WHO IS FARZEEN ALAM?
“I’m not very good at managing things nor micromanaging. I’m very good at opening things, at finding a problem and finding a solution to it“
Farzeen Ferdous Alam is the Founding President of OGGRO, a development organization based in Bangladesh. He started OGGRO while in high school and subsequently dropped out and continued his studies privately in order to dedicate time to OGGRO during its infancy.
His risk paid off when OGGRO won the prestigious Youth Solidarity Fund award of the United Nations Alliance of Civilizations (UNAoC) in 2009. The following year he was honored by MTV Staying Alive Foundation UK for “outstanding achievement in HIV/AIDs awareness”. Farzeen has developed numerous social business models in order to transform OGGRO from a fund-dependent organization to a self-sufficient one.
A graduate in Economics from the University of Dhaka, Farzeen is also the Chairman of Ferdous Biotech Pvt. Ltd, which uses tissue culture to produce various agricultural products for local and foreign markets.
You can connect with Farzeen here:
IN TOR 020 YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
- Farzeen, a young serial entrepreneur, high school dropout, trying to make change through youth organization and action.
- The cultural differences between youth-led entrepreneurship and more formal models and requirements from donors, and the efforts and findings Farzeen has accomplished in bringing both worlds together.
- Farzeen’s ambitions in development, social entrepreneurship education and more; his passions, including youth engagement and economics; and his methods.
OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDES THE FOLLOWING:
- 20015 G8 Summit in Scotland
- Princeton University
- London School of Economics (LSE)
- Youth development
- Serial social entrepreneurship
- Millennium goals
- Schooling and dropouts
- Volunteer networks
- Dhaka, Bangladesh
EPISODE CRIB NOTES
Founded it in high school. About youth development.
Diverse work around the country.
Her family was in development.
’05 G8 Summit in Scotland. Campaign to make poverty history. He read on Sachs, millennium goals. “It was my cup of tea.“
Awareness about our generation, engage.
High school dropout. His brother inspired him. Risk taking.
1,500 volunteers across all 7 Bangladesh divisions. Most of the work is remote, outside Dhaka.
All of them 28 and under, in university or high school. Youth driven.
It’s proven to be a stepping stone for jobs and abroad education, including Princeton and LSE. They remained connected.
Youth action. OGGRO provides funding for youth led projects. A boy got money to fix toilets. Farzeen went and saw students themselves, boys and girls, working on the toilet. School principal tell hims since the start of the project missing days were lower. Toiletries are a school plus.
Projects have multiplier effects “you would never consider in Dhaka city.“
Volunteering network bring lots of schools. Students from technical schools, relations with businesses who provide resources.
An office 20km outside of Dhaka. 6 offices in the divisions. His team often works at his home. Young people prefer more informal relationships.
At the beginning it was difficult to be listened.
’09 was young, low cost. Youth Solidarity Fund funding.
We adjust our identity. We can be informal, but we can be serious and normal in front of donors. But partners have come to enjoy the young vibe.
Refugee problem, Farzeen was 18. But too sensitive an issue. National agencies did not allow them to get into the camp. “But one day we will tackle this issue.“
Moving away from donor dependency. Currently in a transition phase where market ideas gain more relevance. Those have been since the beginning. They started a notebook making enterprise and approached schools close by to become their provider.
Currently testing funding schemes for independence.
Agro packaging enterprise. They train girls to build packages. Not a lot of market survey. Turns out the market was very saturated. They refined the approach, now they have two large contracts.
Quality and efficiency matters. Social enterprise comes second. Competitive products “with a backstory.“
Farzeen is just beginning
Just majored in economics. “It’s like a religion.” Will take a leave of absence to finally give full priority to OGGRO, then later on do a master’s.
He has other business and involvements with organizations. “I also teach.“
To do all of it, he delegates. A deputy supervises all of Farzeen’s endeavors.
Serial entrepreneurship. A vision for a set of entities until an umbrella of development.
He loves Bangladesh. “Efficiency is a concern because everywhere else in the country it is not.” But he would jump if the opportunity is good enough. “It’s all about getting somewhere.“
Time, project, personal management
Some volunteers are software developers, they have created proprietary tools.
Traditional methods are useful. “Every day I call three staff members at random, to stay in the loop about a random village,” and if the answer warrants it, it defines his agenda.
“Have a big dream. Then start small.“
“If you want to start big you will fail and get demotivated.“
“School is not the only path. Street smarts count a lot. It does not mean not learning.“
Please share, participate and leave feedback below!
If you have any feedback you’d like to share for me or Farzeen, please leave your thoughts in the comment section below! I read all of them and will definitely take part in the conversation.
If you have any questions you’d like to ask me directly, head on over to the Ask Stephen section. Don’t be shy! Every question is important and I answer every single one.
And, if you truly enjoyed this episode and want to make sure others know about it, please share it now:
Also, ratings and reviews on iTunes are very helpful. Please take a moment to leave an honest review for The TOR Podcast!