Gollachoot: A New Social Enterprise in Khulna

Published 04/09/2024 in Scholar Travel Stipend
Written by Jahin Rahman | 04/09/2024

Throughout my trip in Bangladesh, I worked for my nonprofit Efforts in Youth Development of Bangladesh (EYDB). We are currently working on a project in Khulna, Bangladesh, related to quality education and sustainable entrepreneurship. We are building a school for 40 slum children who currently do not have acess to quality education.

We are also providing them with entrepreneurship skills and training. We are employing the mothers of these children in our sustainable employment program which teaches them to sew and sell clothing in local stores of Khulna through an intricate employment network. This EYDB project supports the education and entrepreneuship pillars of the Milken Institute and Milken Family Foundation. By providing marginalized populations in Bangladesh with access to quality education and opportunities for entrepreneuship, our work will be providing them with the pathway to prosperity, as the Milken Insitute and Family Foundation advocate for.

Our project is dedicated to addressing the pressing social issues prevalent in the rural village of Khulna, located in Bangladesh. The primary challenges we aim to tackle are poverty, gender inequality, and limited educational opportunities, which collectively affect the entire community and have far-reaching consequences.

In addition to the social challenges, the village also faces an educational crisis. Due to poverty and societal norms, many children are engaged in labor-intensive work from a young age instead of attending school. This limits their potential and denies them the chance to break free from the cycle of poverty through education and skill development.

The scope of these issues is widespread, affecting a considerable portion of the village's population. Poverty and gender inequality can impact the community's health, education, and overall prosperity. Without intervention, this cycle will persist, hindering the progress of Khulna and leaving its inhabitants trapped in a cycle of poverty and limited opportunities.

The idea behind our project is rooted in an unwavering commitment to providing empowering women and children to shatter the barrier of poverty in Khulna once in for all. We have taken various actions to ensure its success. One of the key steps we've taken is actively engaging a diverse range of experts, partners, and community members representing different cultural, religious, ethnic, and national groups. This collaborative approach helps us forge a collective force that propels the project forward. Notably, we have established a valuable partnership with ProjectWe, a respected local grassroots organization deeply embedded within the community. Through this partnership, ProjectWe helps in recruiting school students, teachers, and garment partners who eagerly support our cause by purchasing the finished goods created by the women we employ. Their expertise and extensive network strengthen our outreach efforts, ensuring that the project resonates with the broader community.

In our pursuit of widespread community support, we are also involving local mayors and esteemed community leaders as ambassadors of our projects. Their endorsement brings credibility and instills trust within the community, inspiring greater participation and enthusiasm.

A day at school

ProjectWe plays a vital role in identifying and engaging these influential figures, seamlessly facilitating their collaboration with our initiatives. Their involvement amplifies our impact and fosters a sense of ownership and pride among community members, ensuring the sustainability and long-term success of our endeavors.

The central component of our solution is establishing a garment enterprise specifically designed to uplift impoverished local women. Leveraging this enterprise, we will encourage women to create menstrual hygiene kits, thereby educating girls and women on menstrual health and ensuring access to essential supplies. By fostering partnerships with local, grass-roots organizations, we will create a self-sustaining distribution network within the village, eliminating the need for outsourcing labor and ensuring that profits circulate within the community.

Empowering women through economic opportunities and education unlocks their potential as change agents and leaders. Investing in education for children fosters innovation that can break the enduring cycle of poverty. Furthermore, addressing menstrual hygiene promotes gender equality, empowering girls to pursue their aspirations and contribute to a more inclusive society.

The garment enterprise serves a dual purpose. Firstly, it empowers women economically, creating a positive ripple effect that enhances their financial stability and influence within the community. By fostering economic independence, women can actively participate in decision-making processes, thus contributing to the overall development of the village. Secondly, the enterprise's focus on menstrual hygiene kits will address menstrual health education and ensure supplies for girls and women.

The revenue generated from the enterprise will be channeled directly into establishing a rural school for students from grades 1 to 12. The school rescues children from labor-intensive work by providing a nurturing and safe environment, offering them access to a quality education. Moreover, the school curriculum will encompass vocational training, equipping students with practical skills that will enable them to pursue successful careers. This holistic educational approach empowers children with knowledge and critical thinking abilities, fostering innovation and growth.

Additionally, we have been fortunate to receive overwhelming support from the community, with over 30 individuals already expressing their willingness to participate in our garment industry, and a team of professionals is willing to train them at a low cost. This enthusiasm demonstrates the potential for successful training programs and highlights the motivation and dedication of the women involved. We plan to utilize comprehensive training modules, collaborate with skilled trainers, and provide ongoing mentorship and support to ensure the continuous growth and development of these women.

We have also already forged relationships with local stakeholders committed to supporting our project. Major local garment industries have agreed to buy our local products at a fair cost, which benefits them by not having to outsource from far away. These partnerships will serve as outlets for selling the garments within the village and surrounding areas, ensuring the financial sustainability of the enterprise.

With the aforementioned support from our partners, stakeholders, and the greater village at large, we are laying the foundation to create a community woven by the rich tapestry of perspectives, ideas, and support from everyone involved. As we continue building our pool of support and resources, we envision a sustainable and prosperous future for the rural village of Khulna and its surrounding regions.

School at Khulna