Applications are now open for Urban Innovation Challenge 2018, a venture-building program from BRAC designed to incubate and support early-stage social enterprises developing innovative solutions to the growing challenges faced by the people living in cities across Bangladesh. Interested social entrepreneurs and aspiring ones can submit their ideas through UIC web platform here.
This year’s Urban Innovation Challenge, which is the second edition of the program, was officially launched at the Brac Inn Auditorium on Tuesday with the theme “ Our cities, our solutions.” This year’s program will select five startups who will receive seed fund, opportunity to pitch to BRAC’s investment committee, mentorship, venture-building training, office space, network, access to BRAC resources, and other facilities from BRAC.
State Minister for Information and Communications Technology Zunaid Ahmed Palak inaugurated the program as the chief guest. Present at the event were Startup Bangladesh Investment Adviser Tina Jabeen, Prothom Alo Youth Program Coordinator Munir Hasan, Inclusive Innovation Toru Institute founder Saif Kamal, and Mohammadi Group Managing Director Rubana Huq, BRAC Senior Director Asif Saleh, and Brac Urban Development Program head Hasina Mushrofa among others. Investors, startup enthusiasts and stakeholders of the ecosystem also attended the event.
The first Urban Innovation Challenge was launched in October 2016. On May 7, 2017, 5 teams, out of 13 finalists, were selected for a six months incubation program. Three teams finally graduated from the program and doing well. One of the three teams also secured an investment from BRAC.
Apart from various facilities, UIC claims to have a powerful and practical curriculum, infinite networking opportunity, a pool of incredible mentors, access to the vast resource pool of BRAC among other things.
Entrepreneurs learn how to refine their ideas and business models, and ultimately learn to take their ideas from embryo to full-fledged business.
Alumni entrepreneurs from the first cohort of the programs refer to the UIC program as a ‘life-changing’ experience for themselves and their ventures.
During the 6-month incubator period startups receive a host of supports including 1) BDT 500,000 seed money 2) Free workspace 3) mentorship and venture building training 4) access to Brac network and resources.
Further down the line, continued growth will be encouraged through access to larger funding and investment as well as connections to impact investors, local and global organizations, and strategic partnership within BRAC’s network.
UIC is now supporting startups like Bloodman – a mobile and web platform that connects blood donors and patients, DD Assistant – a service marketplace based in Rangpur, and Bhumijo.
This is a wonderful opportunity for entrepreneurs and aspiring entrepreneurs who want to solve urban problems in areas like low-cost housing, WASH, renewable energy, healthcare and Climate change and build sustainable social enterprises. You can apply online at UIC Website here. To remind you again, application closes on 30th August 2018.