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A world to be won in Bangladesh
Bangladesh is struggling with extreme unemployment and poverty. Fortunately there are people who believe that things can change for the better. BetterStories Limited is aimed specifically at those people. This incubator has set itself the target of training a new generation of entrepreneurs, and PUM is happy to lend a helping hand.
Bangladesh is also badly affected by the consequences of global warming and rising sea levels. Flooding, the salinisation of agricultural land and the lack of drinking water are causing people to migrate to the capital city Dhaka, in huge numbers. “Walking around in Dhaka, you cannot believe your eyes,” commented PUM expert Jan Blok. “The rubbish tips are full to overflowing. There is still so much work to be done here, and a whole world to be won.”
BetterStories is an incubator, established by a group of young entrepreneurs. Supported by the private sector and the World Bank, BetterStories has been helping start-ups to set up their own sustainable business, since 2008. For some time now, the company has also been offering a special accelerator programme for established small businesses with growth ambitions. These so-called scale-ups were the focal point for the first PUM mission. Jan continued, “The idea behind my visit was to advise BetterStories and their clients on sustainability. The main focus is on saving energy, cleaner packaging and recycling.”
‘BetterStories is aimed at entrepreneurs who believe that things can change for the better’
Making a difference
By the end of his visit, Blok had advised a total of 17 entrepreneurs on sustainability and safety. “The entrepreneurs came in all shapes and sizes, from a small business producing compost from organic waste through to a honey producer and a female entrepreneur producing cheap sanitary towels. I was also surprised by an entrepreneur who had developed a ‘taxi’ app for women. Because it is not common practice for women to take a taxi driven by a man, this particular entrepreneur only employs female drivers. Based on what the various entrepreneurs told me and showed me, I drew up advisory reports for each of them, with a range of recommendations including the use of LED lighting, solar energy or biogas. There was also specific attention for safe working practice, as working conditions in some of these small businesses were far below par. I was delighted that the various entrepreneurs seemed to very much appreciate my safety recommendations, too.”