Change Magazine September 2017 Issue - Page 30

pay $ 14/month for international payment charges. The mother of the scholarship recipient is provided a mobile phone and a bank account. The donor profile is connected with the student’s profile, the parent’s profile and the respective school’s profile having direct access to each. Every month the scholarships are transferred from user’s bank to the mother’s bank. The user receives the bank statements every month as well as the report card of the scholarship recipient in their profile inbox every quarter to be in the loop. This continues until the student completes grade five, getting a primary school certificate. The donor has now successfully prevented a child from dropping out and ensured a literate citizen for Bangladesh, paving the way towards its 100% literacy target. This also ensures a step towards reducing poverty because achieving literacy will open doors to new possibilities for these children. the channel to eradicate poverty was empowering the population through education. This called for effective measures towards reduction of dropouts. The model for AlterYouth was thus derived as a solution for preventing dropouts in the country. The underlying reason for dropouts was the children who dropped out could be engaged into vocational opportunities to earn an income for their families. The parents being illiterate themselves, failed to recognize the long-term benefits of education and the incentives of free amenities was not enough to deter them. The only incentive that seemed to be able to strike a chord was providing monetary incentive greater than or equal to what the dropouts earned. The whole model for AlterYouth was based 26 on this insight. After speaking to locals from his own village, Nabi found that the average dropout earned Tk800 ($10). It seemed rather dismal that so many youth were deprived of basic education because of what was a meager sum of money to many of us. He realized to make a greater impact, people like him had to come forward. And what better way to create awareness for this cause than leveraging on the prowess of the internet. A beta website was soon launched and the hypothesis that providing monetary incentive greater than the income the dropouts would potentially make can turn the scenario around was tested out in twenty different Government Primary Schools. After a successful run for 2 years, the official website was launched. Change Magazine September 2017 The website would host profiles of rural schools along with a database of its most vulnerable and poverty-stricken students. The students were nominated based on objective criteria provided by AlterYouth, such as having a single mother, landless families and having a disabled parent. A potential donor would be able to log into the website and select a student to give a Literacy Scholarship. The scholarships were valued at Tk800/month contingent upon 65% attendance and marks in class, continuing until completion of grade five, after which the recipient has achieved literacy. AlterYouth added a scholarship management fee of Tk200, amounting to $ 12.5/ month, although users from outside Bangladesh have to AlterYouth only goes to show that all it takes is grit and genuine passion to make your dreams into a reality. Asifun Nabi didn’t just make his own dream of someday seeing Bangladesh parallel to countries such as America a reality. He also made dreams of many unfortunate children of achieving literacy such as Sufia, a reality. To be a part of the change, visit AlterYouth at: As of now, AlterYouth has ensured scholarships for 212 students and plans to make this number grow exponentially. AlterYouth has targeted 900,000 scholarships per month and is working tirelessly towards that goal. The perseverance of the AlterYouth team has led it to become one of the four startups to receive recognition from Grameenphone Accelerators, an accelerator program designed to support early-stage, home-grown tech startups. The journey so far for About the Author Farhana Shahnaz is currently doing her bachelors in Economics and Marketing. She always had a penchant in being involved with initiatives that help drive changes for the betterment of our society. She is a feminist and a freethinker. Change Magazine 27