Kazi, Zaki, and Mridul – three team members from Bangladesh TFF Boost Team GEOPOTATO – recently competed in the GIZ Smart Development Hackathon with a concept titled ‘Mobilizing Rural Women Entrepreneurs for COVID-19 Response and Recovery’ to empower poor communities in Bangladesh with the help of female micro-entrepreneurs. Their participation was selected as one of the nine winning proposals of #SmartDevelopmentHack out of more than 1000 individual solutions and 275 team proposals.

Hubs to empower rural communities in Bangladesh

The Women Business Centres (WBCs) that are established under the concept they submitted at the hackathon are community-based hubs for female micro-entrepreneurs who are empowered to collaborate on developing strategies to sell their products directly to local communities and adjust their offerings to stay relevant during the pandemic. 

The solution will use existing connections with women entrepreneurs to reach and support the most vulnerable and at-risk groups in these areas. It will hence link with existing resources to build female entrepreneurs’ capacity for service delivery (e.g. home-made masks, disinfectants and soaps) and to integrate them into community-based partnership development.

Watch the short video below to learn more and be inspired by how we can transform current systems to align them with the concrete needs of local communities.

The WBCs will be able to deliver services in three categories:
  1. COVID Resilience: Produce/sell home-made masks, disinfectants and soaps
  2. Health and Safety: “Coronaye Koronio” smartphone app to triage risks of COVID-19 and other symptoms to provide advisory on next steps. Serve as the medium for consultation with urban-based doctors through mPower’s teleconsultation platform and network of doctors.
  3. Economic Resilience: Sell agricultural inputs and outputs through the online platform and serve as the medium to provide critical agro-advisory services through mPower’s agro and livestock-expert teleconsultation platform, and also through automatically generated advisory based on local weather information.
About the Hackathon

The Hackathon was organized by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with an aim to develop innovative digital solutions to tackle the challenges caused by the Coronavirus outbreak in low- and middle-income countries. The pitches had to be developed in two intensive hackathon days and were judged by a high-ranking expert jury and representatives from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, GIZ, and KfW bank

Kazi, Zaki, and Mridul represented mPower Social as the solutions provider and partnered with United Purpose (a UK-based NGO) to help implement the concept. They will now collaborate with BMZ Digilab over 1-3 months to successfully roll out the proposed concept into a project ready for implementation combating Covid-19. 

What are some of the challenges your region faces due to the global pandemic? What are potential solutions that might help strengthen local communities and build business networks in new and innovative ways?