Shape South Asia 2018 | The Daily Star
12:10 AM, April 20, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:51 AM, April 20, 2018

Shape South Asia 2018

Shape South Asia 2018, a four-day conference, organised by Dhaka Hub of Global Shapers Community, an initiative of the World Economic Forum, was held from April 11 to 14, 2018. The conference brought together 100 young leaders, known as Global Shapers, from 30 countries reiterating commitments to foster regional collaboration.

Shape South Asia 2018 brought participants to the heart of Bangladesh – Dhaka, one of the most challenging urban spaces in the world, on the most colourful weekend the country has to offer, the Bengali New Year. In the conference, these young leaders discussed inclusive development, financial inclusion, inclusive healthcare, and sustainable manufacturing with professionals across public, private, and NGO sectors.

Star Youth spoke to Harsh Songra and Martha Mwiza Birungi, two of the 100 Global Shapers, about the stories of their success and their experiences in Bangladesh.

Diagnosed with Dyspraxia in childhood, Harsh Songra built the “My Child” mobile app to help parents. Dyspraxia is a neurological disorder that affects motor skills. Harsh says, “The app is able to screen disorders in under a minute. It took my parents more than nine years to figure mine out.” The app was launched in 2015. By feeding a few inputs, parents can now monitor the growth of their child between 11 and 24 months and detect if their child has any neurological, developmental or learning disorder. Harsh aims to raise awareness about different kinds of disabilities and disorders and allow people to screen these health problems easily so that other families do not suffer the same way his did. His content platform, “We, Included” focuses on making people aware about the lives and conditions of the differently abled community with the aim of breaking the stereotype that physical or mental limitations hinder a human being's growth. Harsh also made it to the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia 2017 list.

Speaking about the competition and scope of entrepreneurship, he says, “I prefer seeing my professional competitors as my collaborators. I think it is important to not let any real competition kick in and work together, even if we are in the same field.” For Harsh, Shape South Asia 2018 was a way of learning about how people in Bangladesh tackle their physical, mental, social, and professional challenges.

Martha Mwiza Birungi is an Executive Partner at CollaboWork, a professional services company that uses local talent to provide business support services to enterprises in the form of content development, branding, and digital marketing.

The company aims at becoming a thought-leader by changing the way young people look at work and equipping them with skills relevant to the job market. Martha claims, “Current workplaces value soft skills such as communicating and collaborating, which you do not really learn at school.  Strong soft skill proficiency in employees leads to a more productive work environment.” In addition, Martha is part of a campaign to remove visa requirements for Africans traveling to other African countries and a featured writer at The New York Times.

Speaking about the things the conference has taught her, Martha says, “I have learnt that when a country is developing, it is important to not leave certain groups of people behind. Through the different initiatives that we start, we should provide for the underserved population.” She also says that she had a great time visiting the Liberation War Museum. Throughout the conference, the Global Shapers were able to ask different professionals difficult questions, share their ideas, and work with others to contribute to shaping the global agenda on some of the biggest issues of our time.

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