'We work to empower young people to be change makers'

Korvi Rakshand Dhrubo, founder and executive director of Jaago Foundation, spoke to Dhaka Tribune's Zisan Bin Liaquat about how corporations are supporting underprivileged children and how the private sector can come forward in this regard

How are corporations or businesses and the education of underprivileged children linked as the core constituents of economic development?

Corporates and businesses have been contributing in Bangladesh for a long time.

They are one of the pillars that help our economy grow.

The way Bangladesh is going ahead, these corporations and businesses need an educated, efficient and skilled workforce.

Today, one of the biggest problems that the corporate section is facing is getting high-skilled employees.

And I believe that if the corporations and the businesses give back to the society, and especially in the education sectors, at the end of the day they will be benefitted as they will be creating a skilled and educated workforce.

Hence, it is highly linked to their business.

How important is it for the private sector to actively engage in bringing inclusivity in quality education?

Well, the fact is that the private sector does business and they need customers.

And, if you look at the whole Bangladesh market, maybe 5% of people are educated and are going ahead to earn more money.

So, if the businesses and private sectors want to increase their business, they also need to bring people from the bottom of the pyramid to the middle or at the top so that their business horizon can grow more and they have more and more customers.  

What are your expectations from the private sector? How can they help in the long term?

The private sector can help both in the short and long term. 

Corporations and the private sector are business entities.

If they could support the community as much as they can, these business entities would be more recognized and welcomed by members of the community.

Particularly, if I talk about Jaago Foundation, we do not want a lot of funds and assistance from the private sectors, rather we believe that supporting a few children can help the community in the long run.

It can be teaching a few children, supporting their education, helping to build a classroom, buying books or stationery for the children etc.

So, there are plenty of ways, one does not have to contribute a lot of money to be a part of this process.

How does education affect business and industry?

Our society and country cannot move ahead with the 5% of the population who has reached the top of the ladder.

So, if one thinks about inclusivity and wants to bring everyone under the same roof, education is the only way.

And, the underprivileged children are the ones who need that most.

For instance, if we think about the bad things that are happening around us like mugging, stealing, or killing, all these things are happening due to poverty.

No one is born as a thief.

Those people are committing crime perhaps because of hunger and poverty.

So, we too are the ones who are "responsible" for those crimes.

Thus, it is our duty rather than just complaining about others.

As the founder of one of the most recognized charitable organizations in Bangladesh, share your observation on the need for charity with respect to the recent issues (including- inflation and rapidly changing market) of our country.

Bangladesh is growing.

The economy is rapidly moving forward and we are going in a place where we are aspiring to call ourselves a middle-income country.

So, definitely this means that the private sectors have more to contribute to society.

It is very important for companies to collaborate with the relevant change makers to leave a mark for the betterment of the society.

The current economic crisis will be weighing heavily on the major segments of the society.

We are really glad that during these hard times, imo has come forward to support the education needs of the underprivileged children.

Such initiatives from imo will leave a deep impact on the society and should be put forward as an exemplary action for others to follow.

Our team thanks imo for their support and contribution.

Considering the challenge of shrinking donor funds that Bangladesh used to receive, and rocketing inflation, it is important for companies to practice their social responsibilities and find appropriate approaches caring about the communities and society, especially at the current stage.

What are the challenges you’re currently facing while serving the under-privileged community?

There are several challenges.

Particularly If I talk about the private sector, we see a lot of space where they could contribute more to society.

So, I believe that the more the private sector steps in, the more there will be non-profit organizations.

As the nonprofit organizations need resources to do work as they don’t make any profit on their own.

It is high time that the private sector comes forward in a small way or big way.

There can be associations who can come forward as well. Or else all of these homegrown organizations will shrink.

At the same time, we are seeing that the international NGOs are also shrinking as the donor money is decreasing.

So, these are the current challenges I think we are facing.

Other than that, there are policy challenges.

There are challenges related to not getting a skilled workforce even in the non-profit sector.

How are you managing those challenges?

Particularly at Jaago, we always try to raise our funds from multiple sources rather than depending on one, because a lot of time if you're depending on one source, it is hard to collect funds.

Even after that, we will say that the funding crisis is the biggest crisis that we face.

So, I won’t say we are managing our challenges, but we are just merely surviving.

But it is high time that the private sectors move ahead whether it is a local or a multinational organization.

How can the partnership between corporate and non-profit sectors drive the inclusion of the under-privileged community in mainstream education?

There are many ways that corporations can move forward.

For example, our recent partnership that we had with imo, we all know imo as an instant messaging platform.

In Bangladesh, they have a big customer base and thought of contributing to the society.

Recently, imo in collaboration with us decided to support around 1,200 underprivileged children with educational stationeries for the whole year.

This is a huge contribution and a good example of an international corporate standing beside an organization like us.

Through this kind of partnership between a corporate and a non-profit organization, people are getting to know more about the impact that imo is directly creating upon the lives of the underprivileged communities.  

What are your organization’s commitments/plans for developing the ecosystem for generations to come?

We believe in quality rather than quantity.

As an organization, we are always focused on creating more impact than just telling numbers.

And to make our belief come true, we’re trying to make quality education accessible in the remotest corners of Bangladesh.

Our two focus areas are - youth and children.

When it comes to children, it’s about quality education, and when it's youth, we work to empower young people to be the change makers.

We have been doing that for many years now.

Currently we’re supporting around 4,500 underprivileged children and every year the number increases by 500.

Our youth wing, Volunteer for Bangladesh, with more than 50,000 young people is present in every district of the country providing community services.