It is often said that Bangladesh, today, does not have, heroes and leaders, the young can look up to. But it’s a myth now, and some people are proving the concept wrong. Osama Bin Noor is one of those exceptional who manages to impress the world with his ideas and work. Osama won the Queen’s Young Leaders Award (2016) – an award which is granted to young people in the Common Wealth countries, working in the fields of development, human rights, environment, etc. Osama was honored with the prestigious award for his website youthop.com – which aims to bring together global opportunities for the young.
Osama was also in the list of Forbes 30 Under 30 – Asia – Social Entrepreneurs 2016. Note mindfully, Youth Opportunity is a global platform that connects young people to valuable skill-enhancing and career-building opportunities such as scholarships, conferences, competitions, and exchange programs. Osama has been running the website since 2012. One name must have to mention – Makshud Manik, he is the co-founder of Youth Opportunities.
The InCAP:We are delighted to have someone who meets exemplary success at a very young age. Osama Bin Noor, you have an exceptional career peregrination, which is pretty unconventional. Many people are very interested to know how Youth Opportunities actually works.
Osama Bin Noor: I started volunteering at a young age for various youth based non-profit organizations. These experiences helped me a lot in self-development. I got to meet like-minded people and was able to share ideas and learn more. In 2011, I realized that if other youths also start participating in skill-development programs, then they will be benefited as well, and these opportunities can have a lasting impact on improving the community. Thus, the idea of Youth Opportunities (YO) began, and we started our journey in 2012.
Today, YO is a global platform disseminating information on conferences, scholarships, internships, etc., to more than 100,000 youths across 200 countries and territories. In the beginning, we had to search the internet a lot in order to collect news. But as we become more popular, many organizations and our fans now recognize us, and they post such opportunity news by themselves. Many inform us by different social media. Also, we have an option named ‘post an opportunity’ on our website, where people can submit the information of various opportunities they come across.
The InCAP:Where do you want to see you and your organization in the next five years?
Osama: In the next five years, Youth Opportunities will not only be an opportunity discovery platform for youth, but also we will be able to help them to develop their skills in various other ways.
The InCAP:What YO-Experience do you want to write in your biography?
Osama: I and Makshud Manik, the co-founders of Youth Opportunities, started our journey with a Facebook page. We were really focused on the content of our page, and promoting the page so that more and more people can be benefitted. Nobody was aware who was behind this Facebook page.
I and Manik both were very involved with various social organization and youth development projects. When we used to meet people in different occasion, there were people who advised us to visit Youth Opportunities and get informed about different national and international programs. This used to happen very often before people got to know we were all along behind this cause.
The InCAP: Now let ask you a typical question – Was there a turning point in your life? There must have been some trigger behind all of this.
Osama: As I told you earlier, Youth Opportunities started as just a Facebook page. Since I was working on different projects, I knew of various events/workshops/competitions, so I shared those on the page. I told one of my foreigner friends about my page, and he agreed to inform me about international events so that I could share it on the page.
We got a massive amount of followers in a short time, some of which were international. We realized it was time for a website, and with the help of a senior, we launched youthop.com. But the website got shut down after 2 days because of huge traffic. We had to buy a domain and re-launch. Currently, we are working on adding new features, developing a mobile app, and redeveloping the website.
As for the challenges, the minor ones were that I didn’t have much to invest; neither did I have an internet connection or a laptop. As for the major one, it was will power. I was my biggest challenge. Only through firm belief in myself was I able to overcome all the obstacles along the way.
The InCAP: Osama, how do you keep your team members keen and motivated?
Osama: Youth Opportunities family is getting bigger by the day. We have full-timers, part-timers, interns, campus ambassadors, and global ambassadors. While recruiting any of our team members, we don’t only look for skills. We mainly look for people who believe in our cause and want to contribute towards society.
We have a very casual work environment. We try to encourage our members to lead a project where they get to explore their potential. We try not to limit them in just one work, we are to open to their suggestions. Moreover, if they want to lead any project, they are highly appreciated for that.
The InCAP: What is Your Greatest Accomplishment till today?
Osama: The journey from a Facebook page to a platform which is visited by thousands of global youth from more than 200 countries and territories – this is our greatest achievement. Reaching out to so many people and being able to help them in such a short period of time.
In addition to that, the national and international recognition we got for our work, has always been a booster. For example, National Mobile Application Award from the ICT Division, Government of Bangladesh, BRAC-Manthan award as one of the most promising youth initiatives of Bangladesh, recognition by Forbes and not to mention the 2016 Queen’s Young Leaders Award.
Most importantly we feel accomplished, when our users from different part of the world, tell us that they have been received a scholarship or won a completion, which they applied through us. Each of our user’s accomplishment is our accomplishment.
The InCAP: We want to know your specific action about youth empowerment.
Osama: Since the operation of Youth Opportunities is run from Bangladesh, we are currently working on developing different projects that will help the Bangladeshi youth to be more empowered.
The InCAP: You have seen the world with your very talented eyes. You are an idol to the youth. An enormous amount of people around the world follow you as an icon of leadership. Say something to them.
Osama: Our surroundings have an enormous impact on how we see the world. Growing up in a very conservative family, I had very little knowledge of the opportunities that await us. However, one single step outside of my comfort zone pushed me to a world filled with possibilities. Whatever you think, is possible and has probably been already tried out at least once. Your job is to get into the dirt NOW. Not tomorrow, not later. A lot can change later, nothing is changing now. Use this moment to shape your future. And in doing so, find someone who can always encourage you and guide you forward.
Life taught me that it is not the dream itself that matters, but the journey that you go through to reach your dream. If you sit doing nothing, waiting someday that someone will raise you up, that is the memory you will visit. But if you do something, go the extra mile, and make the world a better place, that is the memory that you will visit. You are the writer of your life – either you lift the pen and make a conscious effort to write it or you leave it for others to write your life for you.