Osama bin Noor: Growing a project
Osama bin Noor: Growing a project
Osama bin Noor is a student and the founder of two projects that support young people. As a Queen’s Young Leader, he learnt to balance his academic and changemaking ambitions, which has since helped scale up.
Two years ago, on a summer afternoon in Cambridge, UK, Osama bin Noor sat on the grass with a mentor. He told her about his projects – Youth Opportunities and Teen Tekka – and his life as a dental student.
Osama is the Co-founder of Youth Opportunities – the largest opportunity discovery platform for young people around the world. He also ran Teen Tekka, a radio phone-in show that encourages the teenagers of Bangladesh to talk about their fears and concerns.
Add these commitments to studying dentistry, and you understand why Osama was finding it difficult to fit everything in. But talking to the coach in Cambridge helped bring things into perspective.
“We came up with a few tips that enabled me to set my goals for the next three years,” he says.
Over that week, in the smaller group discussions that Osama enjoyed with other Queen’s Young Leaders, he learned about a new concept.
“It was about ‘business model canvas’,” he says, “a simple graphical template describing nine essential components for every startup or company.”
Business model canvas
The ‘business model canvas’ takes the form of a chart, which helps businesses align their activities by illustrating potential trade-offs.
“This canvas helped me in visualising what is important and also forces users involved to address key areas,” says Osama.
He adds that over the last two years Youth Opportunities has continued using the business model canvas with great success, including:
- the launch of a new website with loads of features
- the launch of a mobile application
- winning the National Mobile Application Award from the Government of Bangladesh
- and being given office space by the ICT Ministry in Bangladesh.
“Youth Opportunities has now two projects with Bangladesh Government’s ICT Ministry,” says Osama, adding "It has served more than 4.5 million youth from more than 190 countries since it's inception."
The Youth Opportunities Team. Image credit: Youth Opportunities
Workshops with young people
The first is about increasing diversity.
“Underprivileged youths studying at Madrasa medium, or those physically challenged or those originating from tribal groups are still marginalised from various participants in this society,” Osama explains.
“Acknowledging this gap, we ran multiple workshops through a period of June 2017 to March 2018 – on ‘Empowerment and Skill Development of Underprivileged Young People of Bangladesh through Access to Opportunities’ – to promote and facilitate these three underprivileged groups.”
The workshops, which reached 500 young people, raised awareness of how participants could find out more about opportunities to improve and develop skills.
Opportunity discovery portal
With the Bangladeshi Government’s support, Youth Opportunities has developed an opportunity discovery portal in Bengali – Bangla Youth Opportunities. This was officially launched on 30 January 2018 by State Minister for ICT Affairs, Zunaid Ahmed Palak.
Minister for ICT Affairs, Zunaid Ahmed Palak, poses with Youth Opportunities team.
Image credit: Youth Opportunities
At the launch, Osama told The Dhaka Tribune, “Many Bangladeshi youth are still not comfortable in English, and that discourages them to apply for different opportunities and lag behind.”
Only two months later, he says, “This website has become very famous among the Bangladeshi youth especially those who have language barrier from the remote areas.”
Working with Queen’s Young Leaders
Another important priority for Osama is to reach more young people.
So he has been working with other Queen’s Young Leaders – Calvin Yoong Shen Woo from Malaysia, Safaath Ahmed from the Maldives and Adam Bradford from the UK – to expand Youth Opportunities into new territories.
“All of them are users of Youth Opportunities,” Osama explains. “During our discussions in the residential week, they shared different ideas that might reach more youths.”
Calvin is the Head of Programme for Malaysia, at the social enterprise Strategic Transformation via Education Development (SASTRA). He creates online modules for personal, career, academic and technical programmes. These are used to teach underprivileged students aged between 15 and 17.
Safaath campaigns for women in politics at both a national and international level.
Osama is working with Calvin and Safaath to launch Youth Opportunities in Malaysia and the Maldives respectively. They will also use the platform to promote their projects locally.
Adam works with the National Autistic Society in the UK, and runs a grants programme which he is now promoting through Youth Opportunities.
A Young Commonwealth
Osama points out that the Commonwealth has a young population. “In Commonwealth countries, more than 60% are under 30 years of age,” he says.
“These are the powerhouse of the Commonwealth for present and the future.
"Appreciating the good deeds – and offering educational exchange programmes in between the countries – is actually strengthening the international relations.”
Referring to the internet, he adds, “Youths are now connected without borders and exchanging knowledge to be a part of greater development.”