Published:  12:00 AM, 22 October 2021

Iran to Bangladesh: In Search of Super Happiness

Iran to Bangladesh: In Search of Super Happiness

 Yasamin Ahmadieh Bondar

If you have the experience of living in developing countries, especially in the Middle East, you have definitely felt how life is different here. There are countless issues that we face every day, such as the menace of war and unemployment. Here livelihood challenges and many unfulfilled dreams and hopes exist. For me, summer of 2021 was gloomy because of the expansion of the coronavirus and the loss of many lives, drought and water shortage in Iran, the wars in Lebanon and the refugee influx in Syria. Worst of all, the invasion of Afghanistan by the Taliban left us no hope.

This is Yasamin Ahmadieh Bondar from Iran. I am a recent graduate from the Economics Department of Shahid Beheshti University. Since I am one of the board members of a non-governmental organization in Tehran, which provides education and health facilities for every deprived child and refugee, I knew that I must be more creative and open minded to address these issues more effectively. In the midst of the storm I had in my mind, I saw Kian's (one of my colleagues) posts on Instagram about a Virtual International Social Business Summer Program (ISBSP) 2021 organized by Daffodil International University (DIU), Bangladesh supported by Yunus Centre, Dhaka.  My heart burst and I thought maybe this is going to give me the answer that I need. Thus, I texted Kian immediately and asked him to provide me more information about this program. He explained that he had attended this program in last summer and was satisfied with his experience. So, without any hesitation and with the support of my family I enrolled for it. And, I am so sure that it was one of the best decisions I have made in my life.

I could remember the day before the start of Virtual ISBSP-2021, it was the board meeting of our NGO. In that meeting we discussed rising issues such as lack of access to running water, food shortage, unemployment, health problems and also we concluded that due to the influx of Afghan asylum seekers all the mentioned problems would worsen multiple times. So, I became more and more assertive to utilize my learnings from this course in order to bring new solutions for upcoming issues.

When the time came and the program started I was full of thrill and excitement. It was so amusing that my team members were all from different parts of the world; such as Romania, Philippines, China, Russia, etc. They all were very friendly and we easily broke the ice and became friends. In our first group meeting we were told that we will have a group assignment in which we have to present a social business idea that could solve one of the SDGs. To be honest, I felt nervous for this task because we had to present it to the judges so they could choose the top three best business plans. When our classes started I felt so lucky that I could learn many important lessons like how to identify a social problem, bring creative solutions and conduct a business plan, marketing our product, financial plans, creating economic and social development and more. Besides, I learned about Bangladeshi culture and its beautiful places. Also, I learned how to do networking! For me, this part was so important and life changing because I never had the opportunity to build networking with people around the world. I enjoyed the fact that we were communicating on an online platform, and that didn't cause any negative impact on our relationships and networking.

Team meetings were one of the most exciting parts of this course for me. We discussed different social problems in our countries which really helped me to gain a better understanding of global problems, and different approaches to these situations. We concluded that environment, development and sustainability are the main international issues that must be addressed. Therefore, we devised a social business plan that was based on textile waste disposal. We spent complete two days with passion and love to conduct our plan excellently. After we presented our textile waste disposal business plan to judges, they all loved it and elected it as one of the three best plans and at that moment I felt really proud and it boosted my confidence to go for bigger plans.

In our last session, we had Professor Muhammad Yunus who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance. He lectured about the critical situation of our environment, and how important our role is to prevent the catastrophes caused by global warming like unemployment, hunger etc. He was one of the most inspiring and caring people I have ever seen. He gave us courage to stand for deprived people and our environment and build a better future.

To conclude, this program gave me two important insights; one was the business insight that I learned a variety of methods to address social problems and solve them with creative market planning. At this point, I am interested more than ever to initiate my own sustainable and yet profitable business venture. The other lesson was very life changing for me, it was the insight that I gained about the way we should see things and the way we should live in order to maintain a happy life. I learned that it is possible to have a world where there is no carbon emissions, no hunger and no poverty. And our world is no longer a place for personal profits only- we have to have a social entrepreneurship mindset towards every issue to generate our society's profit. As Professor Muhammad Yunus said "Making money brings happiness, but making others happy brings super happiness" and I am so sure that I want to have super happiness.

Yasamin Ahmadieh Bondar is Graduate, Economics Department Shahid Beheshti University, Iran & Participant of Virtual ISBSP 2021, DIU

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