Sightsavers and BBDN launch Futuremakers financed by Standard Chartered Foundation

Dr Md Mahfizur Rahman, managing director of SME Foundation, graced the national launching of Futuremakers as the chief guest

Sightsavers and Bangladesh Business and Disability Network (BBDN) in association with three local organizations of people with disabilities launched the 18-month long Futuremakers project from July 2022 in three districts - Manikganj, Narayanganj, and Tangail. 

The other three local organizations are-Manikganj Disabled People's Organization to Development, Narayanganj Sadar Upazila Protibondhi Unnayan Parishad and Tangail Disabled People's Organization to Development, said a press release issued on Monday. 

Futuremakers will assist young people with disabilities in the workforce by offering technical training, employability coaching, career counseling, and job placements.

Additionally, it will help 720 disabled women and men gain new skills and increase their prospects of finding employment or starting their own businesses without requiring them to leave their homes.

Dr Md Mahfizur Rahman, managing director of SME Foundation, graced the national launching of Futuremakers as the chief guest while Ardashir Kabir, president of Bangladesh Employer's Federation, was present as special guest. 

Dr Md Ziauddin, member, National Skills Development Authority, Begum Morsheda Akter, deputy secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Md Kamrul Islam Chowdhury, deputy secretary of the Department of Social Services, Kakoli Jahan Ahmed, director, Bangladesh Bank Training Academy, Mariane Oehlers from UNICEF, and the representatives from the chambers of commerce of Manikganj, Narayanganj, and Tangail districts and OPDs took part in two panel discussions around disability inclusion in the relevant policies and strengthening disability inclusive development. 

Sightsavers Bangladesh Country Director Amrita Rejina Rozario in her opening remarks said: “When compared to their peers, youths with disabilities are much less likely to be employed or working in appropriate conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic has made them even more helpless.”  

Speaking as the chief guest Dr Md Mahfizur Rahman said: “SME Foundation prioritizes women and youth entrepreneurs in our programming, and we will tie up with the Futuremakers project to identify areas of joint collaboration especially identifying and providing training to youth with disabilities in the project districts.”

Ardashir Kabir said that this project is a part of Standard Chartered Bank's global initiative to tackle inequality by promoting economic inclusion for young people and has been anchored in light of the UN global initiative for decent jobs for youth.

Mahbub Zaman, managing director of Datasoft and former chairman of BASIS said: “Even before the Covid-19 crisis, young people in Bangladesh were vulnerable in the labour market and faced barriers in their transition from education to employment. Despite increased access to education for youth, there remains a mismatch between the skills that the youth possess and the talents the businesses need.” 

Utpal Mallick, project manager at Sightsavers, presented the keynote in the event whereas Ayon Debnath from Sightsavers made a presentation on Labour Market Assessment study report published by Sightsavers. Golam Kibria from BBDN moderated a panel discussion on creating employment opportunities for persons with disabilities. 

Aziza Ahmed, head of Operations at BBDN, concluded the event with the vote of thanks.