Shaba Amin is the Founder of Poverty Fighter Foundation (PFF)- a non-profit organization based in Dhaka with a vision to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh. PFF also advocates for sustainability of solutions to some of our pressing problems instead of giving some temporary solutions. We spoke to Shaba to know about her initiative PFF and to know about her experience as a young, woman, and non-profit start-up entrepreneur which she told with much thoughtfulness and candor.
Future StartUp: You’ve started quite early, means at a very young age, why? And what was the motivation behind?
Shaba Amin: I was born and grew up in Khulna, a small city in the southern side of the country. When I used to go to school in my childhood I would see lot of children working on the street, garage, where there is no touch of life, instead of going to school. Life falls into a garbage through the journey.
Then a question comes into my mind i.e. “why”. Why they are different from me, why we don’t walk the same path and many more. Afterward I came to realize the truth and practical scenario and a hidden desire started to grow into my mind that “I need to get them in the same path”. A desire that sets my path later on.
But since Khulna is a small city and has lack of resources, I moved to Dhaka and start my own non-profit organization in 2010 known as “Poverty Fighter Foundation”.
The inspiration lies in scarcity and in a desire to make positive changes happen. I want to make a contribution to society, to make the underprivileged an asset, to fulfill a need in the community, to better use the spirit and capacity of youth to bring positive changes to the society.
Q 2: Don’t you think it’s a bit difficult to start at a young age here in Bangladesh?
In a sense it’s little bit difficult to start such kind of organization at an early age in Bangladesh but I find it easy because of our good culture. It’s a society where communication is encouraged and connections are easy to establish (if you try), and everybody knows everybody. Moreover, we have a vibrant youth community. Our youths are so much dedicated that I never knew until I started the organization. They seek a platform to serve the community which I can make for them. So it’s not so tough to get started as I expected before.
Well, I have to accept that there are problems, so many of them exists around us but the situation is not unmanageable. If you are willing to cost some perspiration and do some hard work you can make it happen.
Q 3: How did you get started?
Poverty Fighter Foundation (PFF) started its journey in 2010 with a vision to work to alleviate poverty in the country. We are trying to turn the underprivileged population of society into an asset. The underlying belief is that the spirit and effort of our youth can bring lot more positive changes to our society if they are equipped with right platform and right direction. This is how I started to think about youth participation under one roof and get started with PFF.
Q 4: Please Briefly tell us about PFF.
Poverty Fighter Foundation is a non-profit organization. Our primary goal is to alleviate poverty in Bangladesh by ensuring food, cloth and education to the underprivileged and to provide them with pure water and medications. Our aim is to make some substantial changes instead of giving some temporary solutions. The only reason is we believe in sustainable development. We aim to make the impoverished population self-reliant, so they can free themselves from the curse of poverty.
We believe children are the future of a nation. Poverty Fighter Foundation works to provide English version education followed by National Curriculum to the underprivileged children through a free of cost English Version School in Dhaka. We organize health camp time to time where we give free medical check-up to the slum dwellers. We also equip them with the knowledge of health and sanitation.
Our dream is to open schools in every part of Bangladesh for underprivileged children. We believe a little contribution from us can help someone to a great extent. If we can change the life of a few, we will consider it as a great achievement.
Q 5: How did you manage everything, specially, fund and people at the beginning?
As we have a school of 30 kids, we need money to operate the whole curriculum and facilities. Sometimes we organize fund raising event where lot of young dedicated volunteers work for us.
At the beginning I got to manage all the funds from my family, relatives and well-wishers but as time passes on I develop a structure of raising funds. We ask for donation to the corporate houses and many of them contribute to us.
Q 6: How many people working at PFF now, how do you manage people here?
We have around 30 associates. Some members are doing part time job and they are paid. And others are volunteers for events and they are not paid.
The responsibility is equally distributed among the part time members. So we don’t need to bother much about managing them as we recruit members effectively. And the most pleased thing of our organization is each and every person of PFF is self-motivated. So we have a smooth combination.
Q 7: Are you working full time at PFF? How do you manage all the things together?
Yes, I am working full time at PFF. As we allocate our work load so I don’t need to take much stress on it. I make a routine for my study and work and thus I can manage it efficiently.
Q 8: Please tell us about few of the obstacles you’ve faced to date.
Well, fund is one of the most critical problems we have been facing. However, as we are getting experienced day by day and having new connections I hope we'll be doing much better with this 'fund' thing in coming days. The comes the police problem, often police disturbs in our on the road fund raising programs/events and even sometimes harasses our volunteers. I hope to find a way to deal with this problem.
Q 9: Do you’ve anything to say to FS readers/young start-ups?
Future StartUp is a nice platform to get to know the young entrepreneur and contributor to the society who really keen to make a positive change. So stay with us because we need your help to move fast forward and to make positive changes happen. Check out our activities and contribute us: you can contribute in the form of idea, suggestion, or donation etc.