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Maya’s Bold Plan

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Maya started with a simple mission: empowering women through access to information and a shared community. The idea was: by educating a woman you educate a family and in turn change a society. The platform wanted to be a space for women in Bangladesh to freely come and talk about problems, issues, and experiences in their lives.

Ivy-Huq-Russell, Founder Maya | Click on image for more

Since its launch in 2011, Maya has evolved a lot. Originally started in the English language, it rolled out a Bengali version in no time. From a one-way website, it morphed itself into a community. Today the platform covers a wide range of topics concerning Bangladeshi women.

It is incredibly important for women to have access to useful and trusted information to learn more about their bodies, health, law, and society. It is also very helpful to be able to learn from other women who are going through similar experiences. But in Bangladesh, both of these are very difficult to find. There was and is a huge need for quality information and a community where women can exchange ideas, share problems and seek advice.

For the last couple of years, Maya has been trying to do that and become a go-to place for women in Bangladesh. It has succeeded to some extent.

But in recent times, things have been changing rapidly for Maya. After working for years, the Maya team has come to realize that there is more to do and it is time to evolve.

In their latest iteration, Maya seeks to go further and become a platform that connects service receivers and providers in order to help its users with problems such as medical, psychological, societal, and legal. The platform connects users with doctors, legal advisers, psychologists, and experts in different areas to seek help.

Started in 2011 with a vision to educate and empower through providing them access to information in the areas like health, beauty, law, and society, etc, and connecting them with experts and like-minded people for help, Maya has done a lot.

Anwar Kabir
Anwar Kabir

Maya has served its users through multiple channels of information which includes their website where individuals can submit questions that are answered by a set of experts including doctors, advocates, and psychologists. Their mobile app was an answer to the increasing number of mobile internet users. So far, more than 50,000 questions have been asked and answered through Maya’s platform in the last few years.

Anwar Kabir, the Head of Product at Maya said, Maya has now around 70k users per month. He explained further “About 40% of our users use Internet.org initiative which means a large number of users are living outside Dhaka where access to the internet is difficult, 30% from the mobile app and rest come from website.”
Maya receives around 400 queries a day with an average waiting time of 1 hour, this shows how varied the users are considering the various platform they come from and also it lets outsiders gauge the engagement rate of the Maya users.

screencapture-Maya Apa app
screencapture-Maya Apa app

Once asked about future plans, Anwar Kabir said “we plan to take our 70k monthly users to 500k users by the end of 2016”. Maya is also working on few ambitious projects.

The platform is experimenting with few premium services for its users. It means within a short period of time, users will be able to take extended services for a small fee. Now users can ask any legal question to an advocate online and get an answer but it is limited in nature. But someone may need extended legal consultation or service, Maya plans to offer that too.

It is also experimenting with few B2B service offerings which will be officially launched soon. For instance, if an organization wants to provide psychological counseling to its employees, where finding a psychologist is hard, Maya plans to fill this gap. It aims to do the same for legal and other areas of its services.

Samiul Alam is a recent graduate of International Studies from Monash University, divulging into various global issues pertaining to international politics, economic and social issues. Recently getting into the startup culture in Bangladesh and how it is developing from an insider’s perspective. An avid collector of graphic novels, fantasy coins and EDC gadgets, Samiul works as an Editorial Assistant at Future Startup.

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