Young entrepreneurs to build startup ecosystems for SDGs

December 19, 2019

Youth Co:Lab, co-created by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Citi Foundation, brought together young entrepreneurs and innovators to build startup ecosystems that can help find solutions for achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Youth Co:Lab aims to establish a common agenda for countries in the Asia-Pacific region to empower and invest in youth.

An event titled “Accelerator Bangladesh 2.0: National Dialogue to Foster the Startup Ecosystem in Bangladesh” was organised by UNDP and Citi Foundation in association with the ICT Division on December 17 at a Dhaka hotel to share the ideas of youth accelerating the implementation of SDGs through leadership, social innovation and entre­preneurship. Top three teams,  were awarded in the event for their innovations as startup ecosystems from the 20 social enterprises that participated in a two-day bootcamp on December 11-12, guided by experts from different sectors.

The key idea behind youth entrepreneurship is to encourage young people to think outside the box, to come up with interesting ideas, inventions and solutions to existing problems, and then help them develop these into viable business models, giving them an early start in entrepreneurship. Good ideas do not necessarily have to come out of university courses and work experiences. Young minds have been scientifically proven to be more creative and capable of coming up with unique solutions than older and experienced mindsets.

Speaking at the National Dialogue as the chief guest Zunaid Ahmed Palak. MP, State Minister of ICT Division said, “The government is keen to build a startup ecosystem through incubation, technical support and resources, and idea-sharing platforms. Youth Co:Lab is providing that platform for young entrepreneurs of Bangladesh.” He also thanked UNDP and Citi Foundation for this initiative.

Van Nguyen, Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP Bangladesh in her remarks said, “UNDP always encourages more investment in youth so that they can be active agents of change and partners in SDG implementation, monitoring and accountability.” Van further said, “Platforms like Youth Co:Lab will position young people front and centre, in order to solve the country’s and region’s most pressing challenges. This will enable young people to take the lead in finding and developing new solutions for social and environmental problems in their communities.”

N. Rajashekaran, County Head- Citibank, N.A., Bangladesh explained the role of Citi Foundation in promoting young entrepreneurs. He said, “One of Citi Foundation’s key focus areas is to harness the potential of youth to be entrepreneurs driving sustainable economic growth. Programs such as the Youth Co: Lab work towards this objective providing practical inputs to enable such young entrepreneurs to succeed.”

Around 200 delegates, including government officials, private sector participants, NGOs, academics, social incubators, entrepreneurs, young business leaders, and youth from different walks of life were present at the closing ceremony. The first edition of National Dialogue was held is 2018.

About UNDP Bangladesh

United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with Bangladesh ever since its birth and through its remarkable journey from a war-ravaged economy to a lower middle income and “medium human development” country. It remains a catalyst in Bangladesh’s journey towards graduating to an upper middle-income country, and attain the sustainable development goals (SDGs) by 2030. UNDP assists in building institutions and helps strengthen institutional capacities through people-centric, pro-poor, inclusive and sustainable policy making and development governance. It focuses on unleashing Bangladesh’s vast development potential and boosting resilience, expanding opportunities and strengthening livelihoods of the poor and vulnerable. Simultaneously, it assists in addressing the country’s development challenges in the areas of peace and security, natural disasters and climate change risks, governance deficits and humanitarian emergencies. It works in harmony, engaging all key development actors, including the government, private sector, civil society and the development partners towards realizing the common goal to eradicate poverty and inequality.

Learn more about UNDP Bangladesh at | Twitter: @UNDP_BD | YouTube: | Facebook:     |     Telephone: + 880 2 55667788

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management. Citi is championing progress with its innovative product solutions and services for over 30 years in Bangladesh.

Additional information may be found at | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: | Blog: | Facebook: | LinkedIn:

About Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation works to promote economic progress and improve the lives of people in low-income communities around the world. We invest in efforts that increase financial inclusion, catalyze job opportunities for youth, and reimagine approaches to building economically vibrant cities. The Citi Foundation's "More than Philanthropy" approach leverages the enormous expertise of Citi and its people to fulfill our mission and drive thought leadership and innovation. For more information, visit

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