Driving Change: The Rise of Purpose-led Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

In the vibrant nation of Bangladesh, where entrepreneurship has long been a driving force for economic growth and innovation, a new wave of purpose-led businesses is emerging to address pressing societal and environmental challenges. Social and green entrepreneurship, with their explicit focus on creating a positive impact at the heart of their vision and mission, are reshaping the country’s business landscape. As a member of Youth Business International (YBI), the Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice and Helpcentre (BYEAH) is determined to play a pivotal role in nurturing and empowering the country’s young entrepreneurs to embark on this transformative journey. 

In this blog, we’ll delve into the realm of social and green entrepreneurship, exploring why these purpose-led businesses are gaining prominence and how they can make a tangible difference in Bangladesh. By putting their social or environmental purpose front and center, these enterprises don’t just seek profits; they’re on a mission to effect positive change in the lives of communities and the planet. We will also uncover the significance of entrepreneurship, the power of social and green enterprises, and the instrumental role of women, youth, and Bangladesh as the fertile ground for this transformative movement. Let us embark on this journey to explore how the convergence of entrepreneurship and purpose shapes a brighter and more sustainable future for Bangladesh and beyond. 

Understanding Entrepreneurship and its Significance 

At its core, entrepreneurship embodies the spirit of innovation, risk-taking, and the drive to create something meaningful and valuable. It is the process of identifying opportunities, taking calculated risks, and organizing resources to turn ideas into successful ventures. This transformative force has long been recognized as a catalyst for economic development, job creation, and overall prosperity in nations across the globe. 

Traditionally, entrepreneurship has been synonymous with profit-making enterprises that primarily focus on maximizing financial gains. While such businesses undoubtedly contribute to economic growth, a notable shift is underway in the entrepreneurial landscape. A growing number of visionary individuals and organizations are embracing the idea that businesses can do more than just accumulate wealth. They can also be a powerful force for positive change in society and the environment. 

This is where social and green entrepreneurship comes into play. These purpose-led businesses go beyond the traditional profit motive and place social or environmental impact at the heart of their mission. Social entrepreneurship revolves around addressing pressing social issues, such as poverty, education, and healthcare, through innovative business models. On the other hand, green entrepreneurship is dedicated to finding sustainable solutions for environmental challenges, such as climate change, pollution, and resource depletion. 

The concept of social and green entrepreneurship reflects a paradigm shift in how businesses perceive success. It’s no longer solely about the bottom line but also about making a tangible difference in people’s lives and safeguarding the planet for future generations. These purpose-driven enterprises embrace a “triple bottom line” approach, considering not only financial performance but also social and environmental impact. 

In Bangladesh, where the pursuit of sustainable development is paramount, social and green entrepreneurship has gained significant momentum. As the nation grapples with social inequalities and environmental vulnerabilities, purpose-led businesses are stepping up to address these critical issues. By embedding their social or environmental purpose in their vision, mission, and values, these enterprises are demonstrating a deep commitment to driving positive change and leaving a lasting impact on communities and the ecosystem. 

Social and green Entrepreneurship Business

Tanvir Saad (Founder of Nirbaan Jute)

Defining Purpose-led Enterprises 

Globally, Youth Business International (YBI) is one of the leading organizations that champions the cause of social and green entrepreneurship, recognizing their unique characteristics and transformative potential. A social or green enterprise is more than just a profit-making entity; it is driven by a clear and explicit social or environmental purpose. These purpose-led businesses go beyond mere lip service, embedding their mission in every aspect of their operation, from their vision and mission statements to their core values and business models. 

Purpose as a Guiding Light 

What sets social and green enterprises apart is their unwavering commitment to their social or environmental purpose, which becomes a critical factor guiding every decision they make. Unlike traditional businesses that may relegate social or environmental considerations to corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiatives, purpose-led enterprises place their mission at the forefront of their operations. This approach ensures that their actions align with their vision, and any profits generated are reinvested into their social or environmental goals. 

By prioritizing their purpose, these enterprises make decisions that may not always be the most financially lucrative but are in line with their commitment to creating a positive impact. From sourcing sustainable materials to providing fair wages and empowering marginalized communities, every choice is a conscious step towards fulfilling their larger mission. 

Inspiring Impact in Bangladesh 

In Bangladesh, the emergence of purpose-led enterprises has sparked a wave of positive change across various sectors. Let’s take a closer look at some real-life examples of small & growing youth-led social and green enterprises, supported by BYEAH, making a tangible difference in communities and the environment: 

PainTech Valley 

Md Al-Amin, an Electrical and Electronic Engineering graduate, defied the norm in Bangladesh by venturing into entrepreneurship instead of pursuing a research career. Despite the allure of a promising future in research, he sought to make a significant impact on the medical sector through his innovations. Working as a Research Engineer in the Department of Biomedical Physics & Technology, he recognized the untapped opportunities in the healthcare industry, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Social and green Entrepreneurship

Md. Al-Amin (Founder of Paintech Valley)

Motivated to address the prevalent issue of physical pain in his country, Al-Amin founded PainTech Valley. His venture introduced a revolutionary pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) based Electro-Healing device to alleviate pain globally. With over 20 million people suffering from chronic pain in Bangladesh alone, his innovation aimed to enhance national productivity and economic well-being. 

Purnota Craft 

The story is about Sabiha, a Bangladeshi woman who struggled to find employment and was inspired to start her own business, Purnota Craft, in 2017. Despite having no prior knowledge or experience in entrepreneurship, she began producing various Jute items. Her business was growing steadily until the COVID-19 pandemic hit Bangladesh in March 2020. To adapt to the challenges posed by the lockdown, Sabiha attended B’YEAH’s Advanced Digital Skills Training, where she learned how to promote her products online and manage a website. The training helped her business thrive, and she was able to hire more employees, bringing the total to five by mid-2020.

Sabiha Bithi (Founder of Purnota Craft) with her workers

Sabiha also participated in BYEAH’s decent work training, which enabled her to offer her employees benefits like paid holidays, sick leaves, and overtime. She also implemented health and safety measures in her factory. Apart from being a responsible employer, Sabiha takes pride in being a green entrepreneur. She is concerned about global warming and environmental destruction and offers recyclable and biodegradable alternatives to harmful plastic products through her Jute items. The story also mentions the partnership with the IKEA Foundation, which funded the ‘Accelerating Youth-led Businesses in the Digital Era’ program launched in India and Bangladesh in 2019. The program equips young entrepreneurs with skills, training, mentoring, and financial support to build and sustain thriving businesses, create jobs, and boost local economies. The Digital Accelerator component of the program has been particularly helpful during the COVID-19 crisis, assisting many young entrepreneurs like Sabiha. 


Wastech, founded by Sourav and Jabir, is a well-loved recycling store, positioning itself as a comprehensive 360-degree platform that specializes in converting solid waste into personalized products. The company caters to environmentally conscious craft enthusiasts, encouraging them to transform “Trash into Cash” in alignment with their nature and environment preservation values. Catering to both B2B and B2C audiences, Wastech offers an all-encompassing recycling and upcycling platform. Waste generators can now have their waste transformed into valuable crafts or desired items, presenting themselves as environmentally responsible entities. The company also provides a 10% cash back policy for source segregated waste, incentivizing increased waste reuse and enhancing the value of the recycled craft supply chain. Wastech’s commitment to sustainable practices makes it a preferred destination for those seeking eco-friendly solutions. 

Social and Green Entrepreneurship

Jabir Al-Mahdi and Co-founders (Washtech)

The positive impact of social and green enterprises in Bangladesh serves as a testament to the transformative power of purpose-led businesses. By aligning their goals with the betterment of society and the environment, these enterprises are redefining the concept of success in business. As they continue to prioritize their social or environmental mission and inspire change through their actions, they are driving Bangladesh towards a more inclusive, sustainable, and prosperous future. In the next section, we will explore the pivotal role of women in social and green entrepreneurship, underscoring the importance of gender equality in the realm of purpose-led businesses. 

Promoting Gender Diversity in Purpose-led Businesses 

In the realm of social and green entrepreneurship, gender diversity plays a pivotal role in driving innovation and creating a more inclusive society. Unfortunately, women continue to face unique challenges in starting and running businesses, with gender disparities persisting in various parts of the world, including Bangladesh. However, these challenges have not deterred many visionary women from stepping into the world of purpose-led enterprises and making significant contributions to the social and green sectors. 

Inspiring Female Entrepreneurs in Bangladesh 

Bangladesh boasts a wealth of inspirational female entrepreneurs who have shattered stereotypes and broken barriers in pursuit of their social and environmental goals. Let’s celebrate some of these trailblazing women who have left an indelible mark on the world of social and green entrepreneurship, not just locally but also on multiple global platforms: 

Azwa Nayeem, Founder & Chairperson of Alokito Hridoy Foundation and Alokito Teachers  

Azwa Nayeem, a social entrepreneur, whose unwavering dedication is transforming education and empowering communities in Bangladesh. As the Chairperson of Alokito Hridoy Foundation and Alokito Teachers, Azwa leads a remarkable journey of impact, where education becomes a catalyst for change and collaboration knows no bounds. 

At Alokito Hridoy Foundation, Azwa’s visionary leadership has created an education lab that goes beyond conventional teaching methods. With boundless empathy and a focus on collaborative problem-solving, they’ve developed innovative teaching-learning models. These models have touched the lives of over 10,000 students, nurturing them to become compassionate, creative, and resilient individuals. And Alokito Teachers is a data driven teacher development platform that provide personalized services to make teaching effortless and effective. Azwa’s passion for driving transformative change has led her on a journey of continuous growth. Armed with Master’s degrees in Development Studies and International Relations, she has honed her knowledge to make a greater impact on society. Her leadership has been recognized globally, with her invaluable experience at Harvard Kennedy School and her involvement as a World Economic Forum Global Shaper. Her story is an inspiration to aspiring social entrepreneurs, showing that business and compassion can go hand in hand. Through her unwavering commitment to education and community development, she embodies the essence of social entrepreneurship – harnessing innovation, empathy, and collaboration to create lasting, positive change. 

Social and Green Entrepreneurship

Azwa Nayeem (Founder & Chairperson of Alokito Hridoy Foundation and Alokito Teachers

Azwa’s journey reminds us that social entrepreneurship is not just a business model; it’s a powerful force for good. It’s about using one’s skills, passion, and resources to uplift others and build a better world. As we celebrate the remarkable achievements of Azwa Nayeem and Alokito Hridoy Foundation, we are encouraged to follow their footsteps, embracing social entrepreneurship as a means to transform lives, drive sustainable development, and leave a meaningful legacy. 

Sylvana Quader Sinha, the Founder, Managing Director, and CEO of Praava Health 

Sylvana Quader Sinha, the Founder, Managing Director, and CEO of Praava Health, has an inspiring journey as a healthcare entrepreneur. She aimed to rebuild trust in the healthcare system, focusing on family doctors who can address a significant portion of healthcare needs. Sylvana is a visionary leader among the women of today, following in the footsteps of trailblazers like Begum Rokeya, Sufia Kamal, and Zohra Begum Kazi. Inspired by their indomitable spirit, she is actively involved in the corporate world, challenging traditional gender norms. With her expertise in foreign policy, emerging markets, and development, Sylvana envisions a transformation in the healthcare industry of Bangladesh. Through Praava Health, she aims to revolutionize healthcare delivery and make a lasting impact on society. Praava Health seeks to shift the perception of healthcare in Bangladesh by emphasizing outpatient care over a hospital-centric approach.

Social and Green Entrepreneurship

Sylvana Quader Sinha (Founder, Managing Director, and CEO of Praava Health)

In an interview with the Future Startup, Sylvana mentioned –  

“I decided there were 2 major problems that I wanted to fix – 

1) I wanted to improve trust in the healthcare system, and help patients feel that they were being heard and taken seriously, and 

2) I wanted to offer quality diagnostic testing so that people didn’t have to double, triple, and quadruple check their test results for accuracy, even sometimes traveling abroad in order to do so.” 

Support and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs 

While there is a wide array of challenges in unlocking the true potential of women entrepreneurship in Bangladesh, we also need to appreciate the gradual developments that Bangladesh has achieved as a nation. Out of diverse vehicles to support the challenging journey of entrepreneurship, mentorship has played a key role.   

Mentorship plays a crucial role, especially for women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh, as it provides invaluable support, guidance, and empowerment throughout their entrepreneurial journey. In a society where women often face gender-based barriers and traditional roles, mentorship becomes a powerful tool to overcome challenges and pave the way for success. Here are some significant roles that mentorship plays for women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh: 

1. Breaking Gender Stereotypes: Mentorship helps challenge and break gender stereotypes that may discourage women from pursuing entrepreneurship. By connecting with successful female mentors, aspiring women entrepreneurs can see firsthand that they too can thrive in the business world, regardless of societal expectations. 

2. Building Confidence: Female entrepreneurs may face self-doubt and lack of confidence due to societal expectations or past experiences. A mentor provides encouragement, belief, and reassurance, helping women build the self-confidence necessary to take bold steps and overcome obstacles. 

3. Access to Networks: Mentors offer access to a wide network of connections, which can be particularly beneficial for women entrepreneurs who may have limited access to business networks due to traditional gender roles. These connections can open doors to potential partners, clients, investors, and resources. 

4. Skill Development: Mentorship provides opportunities for skill development and capacity-building. Mentors can offer specialized knowledge, insights, and practical expertise to help women entrepreneurs enhance their business acumen, leadership skills, and problem-solving abilities. 

5. Overcoming Obstacles: Women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh may face unique challenges related to funding, market access, and gender biases. A mentor can offer guidance on navigating these obstacles and finding creative solutions to overcome them. 

6. Long-term Support: Mentorship provides ongoing support and a trusted source of advice throughout various stages of the entrepreneurial journey. The relationship between mentor and mentee can grow into a lasting partnership that sustains and motivates the entrepreneur over the long term. 

7. Fostering Resilience: Entrepreneurship can be a rollercoaster of highs and lows. A mentor serves as a source of encouragement during difficult times, helping women entrepreneurs develop resilience and bounce back from setbacks. 

8. Paying it Forward: Successful women entrepreneurs who have benefited from mentorship can become mentors themselves, creating a positive cycle of support and empowerment for the next generation of aspiring women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh.

Social and Green Entrepreneurship

Aklima Akter Akhi (Founder of Healing Tea) and Zarrin Tasnim (Founder of Shonkhochil Kutir) in BYEAH’s mentoring session

Overall, mentorship is a powerful catalyst for women entrepreneurs in Bangladesh to achieve their full potential, break barriers, and create a lasting impact on their communities and the economy. Here, Azwa also reflected on the challenges being a female founder and the crucial role a mentor can play in an entrepreneur’s life. By nurturing talent, fostering empowerment, and providing guidance, mentorship contributes to the growth and success of women-led ventures, fostering a more inclusive and vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem in the country. Recognizing the immense potential of women in driving social and green entrepreneurship, BYEAH with the help of Youth Business International (YBI) has been deploying proactive steps to provide support and mentorship to aspiring female entrepreneurs. They recognize that fostering gender equality in the entrepreneurial landscape is a matter of fairness and an avenue to unlock untapped potential and accelerate sustainable development. 

Preparing Youth As A Force For Good  

The youth represent a powerful force with the potential to drive significant social and environmental change through entrepreneurship. As digital natives and forward-thinkers, young entrepreneurs bring fresh perspectives and innovative approaches to address long-standing challenges. The dynamic nature of youth entrepreneurship lies in its ability to embrace innovation fearlessly. Young minds are unencumbered by traditional norms, making them more likely to explore unconventional solutions to complex problems. Whether it’s harnessing technology to promote sustainable practices or creating social enterprises with inclusive business models, young entrepreneurs in Bangladesh are pioneering groundbreaking ideas that challenge the status quo. The contributions of youth-led social and green entrepreneurs go beyond business success; they inspire a paradigm shift in societal values. These young change-makers are not just creating economic value but also building a more sustainable, inclusive, and compassionate society. Their endeavors align with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and contribute to the betterment of communities and the environment. 

Social and Green Entrepreneurship

BYEAH’s Social and Green Entrepreneurship workshop at University of Liberal Arts, Bangladesh

As youth entrepreneurship continues to thrive in Bangladesh, it is evident that the youth are not just the leaders of tomorrow but also the catalysts for change today. Their innovative spirit, passion for social and environmental causes, and unwavering determination are shaping a brighter future for Bangladesh and demonstrating the immense potential of purpose-led businesses in addressing global challenges. 

The cumulative efforts of purpose-led businesses in Bangladesh have resulted in a profound impact on sustainable development and social progress. By addressing critical issues such as poverty, education, health, and environmental sustainability, these businesses are contributing to the achievement of the country’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Their innovative solutions and inclusive business models are driving positive change and leaving a lasting impact on communities and the environment. 

The journey of social and green entrepreneurship does not end with success stories; it continues through ongoing support and networking opportunities. By facilitating connections with investors, mentors, and like-minded individuals, these collaborative efforts open doors to funding, knowledge sharing, and partnerships that foster continuous growth. 

Building a Sustainable Legacy: The Continued Journey of Social and Green Entrepreneurship in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh’s quest for sustainable development, social and green entrepreneurship has emerged as a potent force for positive change. The growing focus on purpose-led businesses, driven by the efforts of organizations like BYEAH and YBI, exemplifies the nation’s commitment to creating a better, more equitable, and environmentally conscious future. 

The collective impact of social and green entrepreneurship has been profound, touching the lives of individuals and communities across Bangladesh. From providing access to clean energy and sustainable livelihoods to promoting gender equality and environmental conservation, purpose-led businesses are rewriting the narrative of entrepreneurship. 

BYEAH and YBI have played pivotal roles in nurturing youth and women entrepreneurs, empowering them to be agents of change. Their tailored programs, mentorship, and networking opportunities have created a fertile ground for purpose-led businesses to flourish. 

As we celebrate the strides made by social and green entrepreneurs, we encourage young visionaries to embrace this transformative path. By harnessing the power of entrepreneurship and aligning it with a social or environmental purpose, young entrepreneurs can create a positive and lasting impact on society and the environment. 

Together, let us continue to collaborate, innovate, and foster a culture of purpose-led entrepreneurship, shaping a brighter and more sustainable future for Bangladesh and beyond.