The proud members of Greennovation Technologies with
Dr Mubarak Ahmed Khan (2nd from right),
inventor of Jutin.
Jutin Brings Glory
Promiti Prova Chowdhury
Global Social Venture Competition 2012
"Adding value to the society through Business” - this is the mission for which the four aspiring social-entrepreneurs, Badhan Mazumder, Muhammed Saimum Hossain, Mahadi Hasan Sagor and Hasanul Quader Mirza are working for. They are fresh graduates from the Faculty of Business Studies, University of Dhaka and proud runners up team of this year's Global Social Venture Competition, a competition that has given birth to many milestones in the field of Social Business since 1999. The Global Social Venture Competition (GSVC) provides aspiring entrepreneurs with mentoring, exposure and $50,000 as prize money to transform their ideas into business that will have positive real world impacts.
The proud runners up team at the GSVC 2012.
The means through which these four inspirational students plan on making their positive real world impacts is by using 'Jutin', a housing material produced from a composition of jute (hessian cloth) and resin using a patent-protected innovative technology. In Saimum's words, “Bangladesh is a country of 142.319 million people who live in 32.068 million households, among them only 2% are brick-built houses, locally known as pucca houses and 46% of the population use corrugated-iron (CI) and galvanised-plain (GP) sheets for housing. We know them as 'tin-built' houses, or, semi-pucca houses. Rest of the 52% which means more than 73 million people, either do not have access to basic housing or live in houses built of temporary inferior housing materials like tree leaves and thatch. These inferior materials are both temporary and unsafe in nature. To fight this acute problem, our venture has introduced Jutin, which is cost-effective, and has the potential to reduce the pain of millions of people who do not have a proper house.”
Badhan Mazumder presenting at the grand finale.
Such absolute words uttered with positivity and sheer belief, along with a strong implementation plan, not only impressed the juries but also the whole crowd present at the auditorium of Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley on April 20. The finale of the GSVC 2012 was held there, where 16 regional champions participated. With the tagline 'Technology for a Purpose', Greennovation Technologies, the business initiative taken by these four passionate entrepreneurs, reached the finale after being the Champion in the Africa-Asia region at the regional round held at Hyderabad, India. After eight rounds of screenings and knocking out more than 600 teams from 374 universities round the world, they reached the finals. This is not the first time that they won a competition. They are the winners of HSBC Young Entrepreneurship Award (YEA) 2010, the Al Gore Sustainable Technology Venture Competition 2011 and Global Health Award 2012. But two instincts really drew them into this competition. Firstly, this competition looks for a 'feasible' business plan that has to be in the 'implementation stage' to some extent. Secondly, the prize money!
The winners with the student co-chairpersons of the competition.
“If we had won the first prize of fifty thousand dollars it could have been a great aid in marketing the product. Our aim was to get the prize money and use it for further marketing of Jutin through GreennovationTechs. We didn't go there to gather an experience or gain some fame. Our sole aim was to win and only win. We went there for mainly two reasons: one -- to get the product recognised, two -- to get the prize money, which can work like 'seed funding' for the marketing of the product,” says Badhan. “After winning the YEA, we kept searching for ideas to do a 'real business'. Then through a senior student at university, we came across Dr Mubarak Ahmed Khan who is the Chief Scientific Officer and Director at Institute of Radiation and Polymer Technology under Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission. This wonderful innovation is actually his creation. When he showed us the product, we were utterly amazed' The whole idea just clicked with the demand of GSVC. We started working with Jutin. We prepared a full-fledged business plan for it, which included marketing, financing, measuring the feasibility, commercial value and current status of the business, mentioning the partners, future plan, as in, the vision, back-up plans and everything else,” adds Badhan.
Testing the Jutin at the preliminary stage.
When asked how they plan to market the product now, Sagor said that their primary target market (with the most immediate need) will be the salinity affected coastal areas where rate of poor people are very high. Secondary target market will be non-saline rural areas. This portion will be reached simultaneously but with a lesser frequency at the beginning. Quader added that Jutin has already gone through various rigid local as well as global certification procedures, like, 'Weather Testing', 'Tensile Strength and Thermal Ageing Testing', and DIN (German Testing Method). “Currently we are trying to build partnerships with low cost housing development agencies, both national and international, for reaching the customers. As this product is quite cost effective and takes less time to produce than that of the tin sheets,” said Saimum. The team thanked Hossain Khaled, Managing Director of Anwar Group of Industries and Asif Ibrahim, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industries heartily for their support and sponsorship.
Measuring the Jutin with the existing standard size of corrugated sheets.
Dr Mubarak, the proud inventor of Jutin shares, “I am extremely happy and proud of the achievement of these four young minds. All other members of our Scientist community are equally delighted. This product was not produced in a day. I have been researching with the composites of jute for last 20 years both at home and abroad. While working in Michigan, I was called to make a material for the bodies of aircrafts. Then I thought if I can make this, I should make something from local materials as well which might be helpful for the people of my country. So in 2010, I got the patent for Jutin. Jutin can not only be used for producing corrugated sheets. With the support of UNICEF already 150-200 jutin-made sanitary latrines have been built across the country. Our plan is to commercialise this product in Bangladesh. Already key personnel from Ministry of Science and Technology and Md Nazrul Islam Khan, Private Secretary (one) to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh have visited our sites and appreciated the project. In parliament, I was asked what I want from the government regarding this project. I said that Jutin is in the stage of infancy. I want proper patronisation for taking it to the mass market. If it is done, then our economy will be greatly aided as this is a complete local available technology, cost effective and plausible.”
Members of Greennovation Technologies, (From left) Hasanul Quader Mirza, Badhan Mazumder,
Muhammed Saimun Hossain and Mahadi Hasan Sagor.
Except Hasanul Quader Mirza, who is a Major in Accounting and Information Systems, all the members of GreennovationTechs are Major in Finance. They want to spread the message that, a business student should never confine him or herself within the boundary of a particular wing of Business Studies, like Marketing, Finance, Accounting or HR (Human Resource). To do proper business, one has to have knowledge over every area of the subject. A huge network is something that a smart businessman needs to have in today's world. Both Badhan and Saimum regret that there are many students of MBA (Master in Business Administration) in the country who are not taking any venture and just studying it at institutes. Overseas, they have seen a completely different scenario where students get into an MBA programme after gathering a couple of years of work experience, which they feel is crucial for a business student. Thus, to become a businessperson, one has to dream, explore the world, take risks and try really hard to turn their visions into reality.