Thursday, August 22, 2019 | ePaper

BRAC tech contest for social change

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Campus Report :

Israt, Zahid and two of their friends have been developing an android app and a website for the past 36 hours. When fully complete, their work is supposed to give microfinance companies a tech-based solution to bring more poor people in their financial inclusion, says a press release of BRAC.
They, students of the Institute of Information Technology (IIT) of Dhaka University, were participants of a two-day competition titled BRACathon 3.0.
The event concluded at the GP House in the capital's Bashundhara Residential Area on Saturday.
BRACathon is a contest designed to encourage and engage young technology students and professionals of Bangladesh in solving problems associated with social issues such as financial inclusion, healthcare, education, and so on.
BRAC, one of the largest non-governmental organisations in the world, has been organising the competition since 2017.
This year, a total of 20 teams from public and private universities took part in the contest.
The teams were from DU, Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (BUET) and North South University, among others. Moreover, this year's BRACathon also brought in tech enthusiasts from five startups including Pathao.
The 40 finalists this year were selected from over 300 initial applications.
Five winning teams will receive a prize money of Tk 400,000 and incubation facilities from Grameenphone and technical assistance from BRAC.
"Our app has a geo-tagging option. This will allow the programme organisers of microfinance companies to cover more areas than they usually do. In that way, they will be able to bring more poor people in the financial inclusion," said Israt.
Asked what she expected from the organisers, Israt said, "During field visits, we have seen how BRAC uses technology for its microfinance operations. We are trying to address some of the gaps that we have seen in that app. So, we hope that we would receive BRAC's help in taking this forward from the current prototype stage."
The finalists chose the problems they wanted to solve and BRAC arranged field visits to its project areas for the finalists so that the participants could get a clear idea about the social problem they are addressing.
Tamanna Islam Urmi, an engineer at Pathao, is a participant of a four-member team from the startup worked to find a solution to "knowledge repository to generate word map".
"For us, it's not just about developing the solution for one particular problem. What we are looking to do is to develop a general solution that could work on cross-functional settings," said Urmi.
Shahriar Hoque, associate director of BRAC's technology division, said, "More than 50 per cent of Bangladesh's population is youth and many of them are students or enthusiasts of technology. We want to tell them that all of you don't need to go abroad to design chips. If you go out to the fields, you will be able to develop tech-based solutions to these problems." 

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