You can read a fitting introduction to this year's Tech's Person of the Year here.
Often, things are not what we see from the outside. This reality of multidimensionality of most things in the world is what makes life and living interesting as well as complex, all at the same time. Similarly, the ability to see beyond the surface and identify opportunities as well as challenges beyond our common imagination is what separates some people from the rest of us.
While I don’t believe that this ability to see things beyond their normal appearance is an act of genius inaccessible to the rest of the common folk like us, however, it requires significant effort, willingness, and grit to develop and apply this skill.
Our Tech’s Person of the Year 2018 does not go to a single person but rather a group of people, to be exact 04 persons, who have done meaningful work in taking tech to the consciousness of common people in Bangladesh. This is our first attempt at doing this and we have not applied any formal or structured methodology in the selection process.
At FS, one of ways we look at the world is through the lens of a combination of a few things: beyond immediacy, instant gratification, and social approval and popularity. This year’s Tech’s Person of the Year is also a manifestation of that understanding of the world.
The way we look at this year’s selection is that this has been a long overdue recognition for all the people on the list not only for their short or long-term success or popularity, but rather their impact in making tech a thing of common people in Bangladesh. Tech has been a thing of common people in Bangladesh all along, and these people have established it once again.
One has commoditized trust in the financial product. One has built the first successful local internet company and continues to influence the tech ecosystem with his critical and often risky opinion. Two of them have proved that it is possible to build technology services in Bangladesh that people use and that it is possible to dream higher and reach out to that and also have significantly contributed to making tech a part of public conversation.
Again, our criteria for selection were not success or popularity but the impact in the sense of taking tech to the common people, contributing to making tech a part of the public conversation, and making it accessible to the consciousness of the common people.
Taking tech to the common people here is to our Tech’s Person Of The Year 2018:
CEO, bKash, Former Founder, and CEO, Cellbazaar
For making financial technology available to the common people and most importantly, commoditizing trust. As Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali says, “the most important contribution of bKash is not the technology or the scale it has achieved today but the trust it has been able to create among people in technology. At an individual level, people have not interacted with technology in a way that required financial trust. bKash for the first time as a technology wanted ‘trust’ from its users and in most cases, people responded positively. It has created the basic infrastructure for FinTech and that is ‘trust’. That is why I do not see bKash as a delivery channel rather it is something more. It has in a way changed the trust infrastructure of financial services and paved the path for fin-tech products.”
Further reading: you may read our complete coverage of bKash here.
Founder and CEO, BDjobs.com and Ajkerdeal.com
To prove the fact that it is possible to build a successful internet company in Bangladesh and to make employment opportunities available to common people and consistently influence the tech ecosystem in Dhaka with critical and often risky opinions, sometimes opinions that are not popular.
For believing and acting upon the fact that it is possible to build an internet company in Bangladesh and that it is possible to raise investment and follow through. Chaldal is an online grocery startup. The company has raised investment from a host of investors including Y Combinator and IFC.
Hussain M Elius
Founder and CEO, Pathao
For taking on one of the most difficult problems in Dhaka and offering a solution to it and then proving the fact that although it is challenging and difficult, it is possible to try and make a dent. Pathao has created a solution for common people by the common people and it has greatly influenced the tech’s public conversation in 2017.
The first wave of the global technological revolution started with the high hope that tech would liberate humanity, democratize opportunity, reduce inequality, and give power to the common people.
As American intellectual Lawrence Lessig beautifully illustrates in his wonderful book The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World, the tech revolution has failed us.
Over the past years, we have come to see the death of the open internet. Technology has helped a new wave of inequality. It has concentrated the opportunities and power in the hands of a handful of people and corporations and created an environment of winners take it all. Corporations and authoritarian regimes have successfully completed a counter-revolution turning tech into a tool for manipulating and controlling the common people.
Our hope is that in Bangladesh we will experience a different technological revolution that will truly liberate common people and truly empower them. To an inclusive technological revolution.
Notes: 1) We don’t know whether this will be a yearly thing yet, but this year this seems an appropriate thing to do. Thank you for reading.
2) This list originally appeared along with this piece, it has been separated after receiving feedback from our readers.