The complete list of all winners in this year’s Digital Marketing Awards

Digital Marketing Award is undoubtedly one of the most anticipated award ceremonies of the year, particularly for the tech-savvy, digital marketers of this Bangladeshi generation.

With the idea and execution of campaigns getting better every year, this congregation organized by Bangladesh Brand Forum witnesses numerous advertising agencies coming together under one roof and battling it out to clinch the prizes for their creative masterpieces.

All the awards this year were given across 16 categories, segmented in four distinctive ranks – Grand Prix, Gold, Silver, Bronze. With more than 500 nominations, the jury panels eventually sifted the best creative works down to 79 – with 1 Grand Prix Award, 12 Gold Awards, 16 Silver Awards and 50 Bronze Awards.

Here’s a detailed list of the advertising agencies who stood out in their respective categories –

  • FCB Bitopi – They have won 2 Silver Awards, one for “Airtel FIFA World Cup Campaign” under the Best Use of Under 10 Seconds Video category and “Dettol out or not out challenge” in the Best Use of Facebook category. Moreover, the highly acclaimed agency has also managed to bag the only Grand Prix of this year for their 16th December Campaign for Airtel under the Best Video Category.
  • D’REACH – Their campaign “Bhul Hok Shuddho, Naritto Hok Shommaner” was given a Bronze Award in the Best Social Campaign category.
  • Beatnik Digital Known for illustrious communication material, Beatnik Digital bagged a Bronze Award in the Best Use of Facebook category for their “Chatime – Make it Large” campaign.
  • Asiatic Marketing Communication Ltd – The agency has won 3 Bronze Awards for the following campaigns – “PRAN Mr Mango Same Shame” (Best Social Campaign), “Parachute Just for Baby – TVC Carousel” (Best Use of Display), “Banglalink #reasontolove” (Best Use of Instagram).
  • Asiatic Experiential Marketing Ltd – This wing of Asiatic has also managed to put up an impressive performance, snatching a Bronze Award for “Skitto – the Totally Cool SIM” in the Best Integrated Digital Campaign category.
  • Analyzen – Analyzen was indeed the show stopper in this year’s award ceremony. Bagging 4 Gold Awards, 2 Silver Awards and 9 Bronze Awards spanning across multiple categories. They have also won a shared award alongside Asiatic Mindshare and Adcomm.
  • ADON Communications Ltd – ADON has managed to win a Bronze Award for its “Mojo Presents Independence Day Sand Art” in the Best Video category.
  • Adcomm Ltd – Adcomm, one of the veteran advertising agencies of the country, has won a Bronze Award for their “Lifebuoy Khelbe Tiger Jitbe Tiger” campaign in the Best Video category.
  • Adcomm Bagher Baccha Digital – Adcomm’s young, digital counterpart has also been able to take home a Bronze Award for “RFL Bijoyer Golpo” in the Best Use of PR in Digital Platform, co-sharing the award with O&Z Solutions.
  • ADA Bangladesh – This agency won a Bronze Award in the Best Use of Data & Analytics for their campaign “Meenaclick – Data to Dollars”.
  • Grey Advertising Bangladesh Ltd – The renowned advertising agency has managed to win 3 Silver Awards and 6 Bronze Awards. The Silver Awards were across multiple categories – Best Content Marketing, Best Integrated Digital Campaign and Best Use of Facebook.
  • Havas Digital Bangladesh Ltd – Havas Digital Bangladesh has won a Gold Award for their “Durex Campaign” in the Best Social Campaign category.
  • I Positive & MBA Bangladesh – I Positive and MBA have jointly won a Silver Award in the Best UGC Category for “Savlon Twinkle Bhasha Sainik”
  • MBA Bangladesh – The agency also had a solo win; a Gold Award for “Fosholi – The Farmer’s App Launch” in the Best Use of Mobile category.
Photo: Bangladesh Brand Forum
  • Lie To Eye – This design-focused digital agency has bagged a Bronze Award for “AKASH Launch AV” in the Best Video category.
  • Magnito Digital Ltd – Magnito Digital has won 2 Bronze Awards this year – “Grameenphone Tribute to AB” (Best Content Marketing) and “UBER Brand Ambassador Reveal” (Best Use of PR in Digital Platform).
  • Mediacom Ltd – Mediacom has been awarded with a Silver Award for their “Bhalobashar Bangladesh” campaign under the Best Social Campaign category.
  • O&Z Solutions – A sister concern company of PRAN-RFL Group, the company has won 2 Bronze Awards; one in the Best Use of Mobile category and the other one in Best Use of PR in Digital Platform category (co-shared with Adcomm Bagher Baccha Digital).
  • Pink Creative Ltd – The agency has won a Bronze Award for in the Best Video category for “Olympic Industries Limited Language Day OVC – Kalo Bhoy”.
  • Salt Creatives – Salt Creatives took home a Bronze Award in the Best Content Marketing category for their campaign “Jersey Koy”
  • Singularity Limited – Singularity won a Bronze Award in the Best Use of Mobile category for their “IDLC Kickstart Campaign”.
  • Starcom Bangladesh – The agency has won two awards – a Gold Award for “Banglalink – Legend of Rock” (Best Use of Display) and “Banglalink – Beshi Beshi Khushi Khushi” (Best Use of Under 10 Seconds Video).
  • Sun Communications Limited – Sun Communications Ltd has won a Bronze Award in the Best Video category for “The Last Bus” campaign.
  • WebAble Digital – WebAble Digital has dominated across three ranks – winning 2 Gold Awards, 4 Silver Awards and 2 Bronze Awards. Some of their award-winning works this year include the WaterAid Public Toilet App, TECNOxKhoka Promotional Campaign and IFAD Road Safety Campaign among many others.
  • X – X has won 1 Silver Award and 2 Bronze Awards in three separate categories – Best Integrated Digital Campaign (Bronze), Best Use of Mobile (Silver), Best Use of Instagram (Bronze).
  • Deligram Technology Ltd – Deligram, an omnichannel eCommerce platform has won the Gold Award in the Best-E Commerce Platform category.

With such a wide array of awards, accolades and creative masterpieces – all we can do is hope to see more amazing digital campaigns streaming across multiple platforms on the internet next year.

How Bangladesh is adopting the Halloween culture

On the 31st of October Halloween was celebrated throughout the world. Even until 10 years ago, it was something we only got to see in movies, cartoons or TV shows. The costumes, stories of trick or treating and everything in between fascinated us. Our generation fed on things like ‘The Addams Family’, ‘Hocus Pocus’, ‘Halloween Town’ and much more. It didn’t come as much of a surprise when we grew up people started embracing and celebrating the culture.

What is Halloween anyway?

This tradition has somehow managed to influence us although it has pagan origins. The tradition goes back to a two thousand years old ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.  People wore costumes to avert ghosts and spirits. After the Romans took over, most of the Celtic regions and some of their traditions got mixed in with this old tradition. Later American people started following their own version of the rituals. Gradually, other cultures around the world mixed, matched and adapted versions of Halloween into their merrymaking. In the same way, Halloween is now celebrated in Bangladesh.

What does Dhaka have to offer

There are tons of things to do in the city of Dhaka. If you are into movies, Cineplex presents the latest horror movies. You can reminisce your childhood by dressing up as your favorite characters. Attend cosplay competitions. Go to the various private Halloween parties that are held throughout the city. Even five years ago these events weren’t as prevalent into our mainstream city culture in such a scale. Almost every well-known hotel has different arrangements for Halloween.

How Bangladesh is adopting the Halloween culture

A recurring event is the Haunted House at Four Seasons. They trap participants into a resort for a horrifying experience. This year the Haunted House will be spooking their guests till the 3rd of November. Some say its like living through a horror movie.  Also, hotels like Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Regency, and Six Season all hosted special events such as Halloween Party 2018, Halloween carnival, Halloween Haul 2018, Halloween Expo etc. In these people participated in cosplays, watched magic shows, storytelling and much more.

Happy Halloween!

Let your inner Morticia Addams come out. Once a year revisit or enact the inner child, bring back your best Scooby Doo, X-File, Pikachu and all. Dhaka’s Halloween craze is something that we millennial and young adult have been craving for a significant while. So we wish you an eerie, spooky, hair-raising, spell-binding Halloween and may you have a bag full of candy, bones, bats and amazing memories.

Japan’s best young scientist is a Bangladeshi. Meet Arif Hossain

For the first time in 61 years, a non-Japanese person was awarded as the best young scientist. The best young scientist award of 2019 went to Dr Arif Hossain, a native Bangladeshi which s a first in the history of Japanese medical science. 

About Arif Hossain

Dr Arif Hossain was born in a very ordinary family of Bhatiapara in Kashiani, Gopalganj. Among 11 siblings, Arif Hossain is the youngest. He completed his SSC from his native village institute and HSC from Mirpur Bangla College.

Later on, he completed his MBBS and post-graduate from Rajshahi Medical College. Dr Arif Hossain obtained a PhD degree from Osaka University, Japan. He later did a clinical fellowship in child neuro-metabolic disease.

Groundbreaking discovery and honour

Arif Hossain received this honour from the Japanese society of inherited metabolic diseases; for his discovery of the mechanism of Lysosomal diseases and their treatment.

On 24th October the Japanese society of inherited metabolic diseases presented him this honour. During the 61st annual seminar. The seminar went on for three consecutive days and ended on 26th October. Dr Arif Hossain received sufficient funding to carry out his research. He is now, instated in a Japanese research facility as a senior researcher.

In his words, He is beyond happy to be able to achieve something this big.

How to turn your passion for art into a career in Bangladesh

It is a difficult question to grapple with if you are a creative person aspiring to make a living out of your passion in arts and culture. Even if you are not directly affected by the issue, much like any other public service arena, the impact will trickle down to your immediate way of living in one way or another in society.

No matter how we go about in finding answers to this question, the reality seems so far removed from what we are used to considering in terms of future job and career prospects.

Every option seems a stretch.

More of a fantastical whim than an actual possibility that can be worked into reality with a little bit of elbow grease, as one might assume about building a career in the mainstream industries.

There are pre-established routes to take. Students and people who want to traverse these paths have arguably reliable models to emulate as they go about aiming to achieve the career they desire. The more conventional careers have been tried and tested more often and are talked about frequently. As a result, there’s more awareness about these industries and people feel that they have more access to the resources required to make themselves qualified for the field.

The elephant in the room

Addressing these issues, a panel discussion was held at EMK Centre on the occasion of their 10th anniversary. Esteemed dancer and founder of a leading dance school Shadhona, Lubna Marium, cartoonist and founder of Cartoon People Imam Rashad Tonmoy and News Presenter Ayesha Mahmud talked about their struggles and challenges as each of them went about pursuing their career.

One aspect remained constant among all of their stories despite each of them belonging to different parts of the art and culture field: It is incredibly difficult to establish a career in the arts and one will have to work hard and persevere only to get the minimal amount of respect and validation and to be taken seriously. 

“Merely saying that I draw cartoons for a living usually makes people laugh. Or they ask, no but what do you do for real?”

Cartoonist Tonmoy talks about society’s expectation of serious-sounding job titles in order to gain importance as a person involved in a real career.

“From a young age, we are taught how important professions in science, engineering, medicine and business are in the world. If we had the same education on the need and significance of art and culture in a society’s development, then we could expect to be treated fairly”.

He traces back the roots of these problems to a lack of awareness and the sheer absence of the importance of art and culture in education.

Lubna Marium told a story about a talented and polished dancer she had met who worked for a well-renowned dance company in the USA, called Spectrum. When asked about how she made a living, she said that she barely made any money working for Spectrum. Her main income was dependent on after hours and weekends when she danced Cabaret at a local bar.

To this Tonmoy added, “Many believe that it is easier to be an artist in the West. To that, I say, even if pay might be better abroad, the expenses are also higher. Moreover, the competition is much stiffer and cutthroat thereby reducing your chances of success even further. However, one thing that may be better in foreign countries is the respect and validation you might achieve for your work.”

What are the alternate options?

It is indeed true that when it comes to earning a living, many talented, hardworking and passionate creatives have relied on other jobs to make money. One common advice is to search for a job that will allow you to earn a decent monetary income to support your lifestyle as well as the requirements for your artistic pursuit eg, studio space, art supplies etc. Most importantly, the job must not drain you of the emotional and mental energy required for you to immerse yourself in your art.

In this case, a trade-off must be made and an aspiring artist may be better off by doing a job that is not engaging and maybe even meaningless if it means they are able to go home at night and paint or wake up early in the morning to rehearse.

It is easy to fall down a rabbit hole of hopelessness when sculpting out a career in the arts. But the youth must be reminded to pay attention to middle grounds and opportunities to become self-sufficient without resorting to throwing themselves into a career far and away from their true desire. Arguably, it might be more difficult to drop out of a successful, established career to finally devote yourself to your true calling than it is to maintain a less than satisfying job for a certain period of time and still being able to actively work or search for work in the field of your choice.

To elaborate on this, someone who dreams of being a writer may take up a job where he or she has to write catalogues for a company or content for their website. If you are an artist without any gallery representation, perhaps you can get a job as a school art teacher or a private art tutor. If films are your dream, a job in advertising may teach you a lot.

What should also be considered is that many of the creative practices and faculties of the brain required for arts and culture may, in fact, be employable and lucrative in corporate culture as well. It is said that often experience in an unrelated field, may lend you a unique perspective which could then further your career in the arts and culture.

Not everybody will have the chance or the privilege to work sustainably in art and culture. It is inevitable that there will be many going down the lines of business, branding, healthcare and teaching only because they have insurmountable bills to pay and families to support. Additionally, the mental angst and pressure of uncertainty in the field can be damaging to many people’s lives.

Finding a way to channel your passion

Even in such cases, I would like to say there is still hope for them to return to the arts at a later point in their career. Over the last year, as I have covered numerous art exhibitions as a reporter, I have come across a painter who gave up her career to be a homemaker, only to be encouraged to exhibit her art by her children twenty years later. I have seen works by people whom I assumed to be full-time artists. Yet, I found out they held down unrelated jobs but made time to dedicate to their art as they grew older.

As Ayesha Mahmud said, “Whoever persists in their career in this line of work, must have an immense amount of courage.” The world of art and culture is not made easy anywhere. However, those that are truly interested in seeing the development and furthering of the arts must take the responsibility of facilitating other artists and be as welcoming as possible to outsiders.

Top 5 reasons why startups fail in Bangladesh

A startup can be undoubtedly called the buzzword of the century. People have started to believe in the thought that building your own startup is their only possible way of becoming a billionaire. However, not all startups succeed like Facebook, Amazon, Snapchat etc. Here are the top 5 reasons why most deshi startups fail.

Not having a proper business model

Top 5 reasons why startups fail in Bangladesh

Having a well-analyzed business plan is the first and foremost thing a startup should have. The business model should include why they are building their startup, what is the product and how they are going to sell and reach to the people. The business model should have a proper revenue model and also how they are implementing the supply chain. 

At times founders assume that because they will build such an interesting web site, product, or service,  customers will beat a path to their door. That may happen with the first few customers, but after that, it rapidly becomes an expensive task to attract and win customers, and in many cases, the cost of acquiring the customer (CAC) is actually higher than the lifetime value of that customer (LTV).

Not understanding your customers

Top 5 reasons why startups fail in Bangladesh

Market research is a crucial thing in building a startup. As a founder, you might think, “I have an idea of a wonderful product, this should work.”

But in reality, not every product will suit everyone.

You have a great concept of starting a service that will allow car owners to rent their cars when they’re not being used. Sure, it may work wonders in the USA. But will it work in Bangladesh?

Without doing proper market research, you may never know whether people would actually pay for the product. It is a futile project to build a product that nobody wants.

Not marketing the product the right way

Top 5 reasons why startups fail in Bangladesh

Marketing your product is the only comprehensive way to make your products known to potential customers. You might have a great product, an amazing team behind it and a product that cater to the right customer group. But without a proper marketing channel, your product will fail to reach your customer. Hire the right marketing team or outsource it to the right agency. Hire consultants who can tell you the best way to market your product. Every little detail is crucial.

Not having a proper team

Many experts consider the startup team is the most crucial part of a startup. If the team members don’t have proper understanding amongst each other, they will not be work with each other for long.

Pathao had been successful because the team members had an amazing sense of understanding amongst each other, which dates over 10 years.

Not being able to adapt

Top 5 reasons why startups fail in Bangladesh

Eric Ries model of Lean Startup is very popular amongst startup founders, which states the importance of having a minimum viable product. But a core concept they miss is that building the minimum viable product is not everything, they need to adapt it with time.

You might have a great concept and you’re ready to jump ship. But in this mercurial market, if you don’t make necessary adaptations, your startup is bound to fail. 

Like our content? Follow us on our Facebook page for regular updates. Take a moment to write to us with your stories, contributions and suggestions. Contact us for advertising and partnership opportunities at [email protected] Thank you!

11 co-working spaces in Dhaka

Co-working spaces are now an option considered by many entrepreneurs and businesses. For many, it is a great way to cut costs and avoid the hassle of renting a full office. Buying furniture, decorating, hiring support staff can become expensive for a startup. Many startups just need a desk and some wifi for their operations; small teams need affordable spaces with a meeting room.

Some freelancers, designers or members of remote teams want to leave the isolation of home offices, but avoid the distraction of cafes. Shared offices also give the opportunity for many to network, to share resources and contacts. 

How to decide on a space?

Location: Take into account the reality of Dhaka traffic, and consider the location when picking a co-working space. Proximity to home can save you many productive hours wasted on the road. 

Cost: Cost is a huge factor, compare different packages before deciding. Packages include space for daily, weekly, hourly, monthly use. Most co-working spaces in Dhaka offer Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, emergency backup power, an in-house multimedia system, office equipment, and kitchen facilities. The spaces significantly vary in price which affects the quality of each of these facilities.  

Does your business need a place to meet for weekly meetings? Will a desk in an open office be sufficient, or do you need to make a lot of phone calls, so a more private room is a priority? 

Decide which features are important to you and are essential for your work–do need a projector, a studio or a training area? Make sure you choose spaces accordingly. When you decide on a package that is best suited for you, make sure you understand what exactly is included in it. 

Work Environment: Another essential part of work-life is the environment. In your first visit, check for the behaviour of the staff and of others who will share the space. You want to decide on a place where you can work comfortably and effectively. If your budget allows, look for places that are spacious, clean and well lit for maximum ease and therefore, maximum productivity.

Co+Lab Dhaka, Baridhara

Moar, Banani 11 & Dhanmondi 27

  • Address 1: Ventura Iconia, Level 3, H. 37, Road 11, Block H Banani, Dhaka, Bangladesh, +880 1733 711 297,
  • Address 2: Moar Dhanmondi 27, MIDAS Center, Level 3 Holding 05, Road 16 (New, Dhaka 1209, Bangladesh)
  • Phone: +880 1714-116110
  • e-Mail: [email protected]
  • Website: http://www.moarbd.com

Bonik coworking, Badda

  • Address: Arma Majeda Malik Tower, House No# 215 (3rd floor), Merul Badda Bir Uttam Rafiqul Islam Ave, Dhaka -1212.
  • Phone: 01811480832
  • Email: [email protected]

Shuru Campus, Badda

Regus, Crystal Palace Gulshan and UTC Centre, Panthapath

  • Address 1: Crystal Palace, Gulshan 2, Dhaka
  • Address 2: UTC Centre, Panthapath, Dhaka
  • Phone: 09611886795
  • regus.com.bd

The Business Center, Gulshan 1

Locus BD, Banani 11

  • Address: Tower 52, Level 6, Road 11, Banani, Block C (8,672.10 mi) Dhaka, Bangladesh 1213
  • Phone: +880 1701-005480
  • Website: www.locusbd.com

Hubdhaka, Mirpur 11

  • Address: Building #7, Road #3, Section #7, Mirpur 11, Dhaka 1216 close to the Dhaka Zoo.
  • Website: http://www.hubdhaka.com/

Open Co-working, Bashundhara

  • Address: Advance Glory, 2nd Floor (South Side), Plot-15, Block-A, Bashundhara Main Road, Bashundhara R/Dhaka, Bangladesh 1229
  • +880 1716-873660
  • www.workatopen.com

JMC Shared Office, Banani 11

Toru Chayya, Banani 11

13 Co-Working Spaces in Dhaka 6

Toru Institute of Innovation has opened up their space for co-working. Contact [email protected] for more details!

Why does ragging exist in our universities? Answers and confessions

Cover art: Nasif Chowdhury

Over the years, ragging has become a tradition in Bangladeshi universities. Behind the facade of welcoming the new students, ragging is a notorious practice where the seniors get an excuse to harass their junior counterparts and often target them to satiate their own sadistic pleasures. For decades, ragging has been discussed and debated, but while we all have been looking for solutions, there is little effort to figure out why it is even being practised in universities to this day.

It is yet to be understood that ragging is not merely a socio-legal problem, it has a certain psychological basis too.

Just like how every crime has some sort of motive, a bully, too, has something to accomplish through the act of ragging.

Let’s take a look at some of the psychological reasons behind ragging and bullying in universities.

A sense of authority

Most bullies seem to constantly fail to establish control over their own lives. So, when they get a freshman or a junior at their command, they nurture a sense of authority that boosts their morale and put them on a high. This is more like an alternative way for them to somehow fill that huge void in their lives.

“I loved being on the campus all day because they would do anything to be on good terms with me. I’d rather stay there all day than go home, things weren’t that easy back home.”

– Anonymous

A ticket into the influential crowd

Often bullies live under the misconception that ragging is a fashion statement these days and that it can help them get into the ‘influential crowd’ in their universities.

Peer pressure

It is also true that not all the seniors involved with ragging do it because they enjoy doing it, or even do it at their own will. What they really want is to not feel left out as they see their friends and batchmates indulge in ragging their juniors. So, due to the fear of isolation, they end up joining the herd in the act.

Means of retaliation

Seniors who have a previous history of getting ragged often rag their juniors as a means of revenge for what they had to go through.

“I was not someone who liked ragging juniors. It’s just that, having gotten ragged as a junior myself. It sometimes felt like a need to give my juniors a subtle taste of what I had to go through. I regret it though”

-Anonymous

The satisfaction of sadistic pleasures

Many bullies in universities see ragging as an opportunity to satiate their sadistic pleasures. People with twisted minds who find pleasure in seeing others suffer, they exist. The reasons can include issues like bad childhood memories, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), bad parenting etc.

No matter what psychology works behind this behaviour, ragging is not okay and there is nothing that can justify this awful act. However, it’s important to identify the reasons for an issue in order to fix it from the core.

Bibi Russell: The designer who put Bangladesh on the global fashion map

Bangladesh may not prominently feature in the global fashion scene. Although the scene has elevated significantly in recent years, the fashion industry is still in nascent stages. However, one of the trailblazers, name that many Bengalis associate with fashion is Bibi Russell. We know of her, but I am not sure we know the extent of her achievements.
I was so surprised when I first found out that Bibi Russell, “that Gamcha Lady” (as my mum refers to her in true Brown mom style), walked the Paris Fashion Week more than 20 years ago. She also worked with prestigious names as Vogue, Harper Baazar, Cosmopolitan, Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Carl Lagarfield among many more.

Even the non fashion-conscious Bengali grew up hearing her name and fame. Be it because of her iconic love for gamcha print, or her rickshaw-painted frames, or her loud statement pieces and accessories. So, how did she turn Bibi Russell into a household name?

The little girl from Kamrunnisa High

Bibi had extensive exposure to culture during here upbringing- primarily because of the influence of her father, Mokhlessur Rahman. Mr Rahman got her a book from Chanel on French Haute Couture when she was 13-14. The book sparked her interest in high fashion. Also, she received her prospectus of the London College of Fashion- where she pursued a degree in Fashion Design later on.

Bibi oftentimes expresses how her early encounters with vendors wearing colourful gamchas and lungis invoked and engrained her love for the deshi, colourful manner of sustainable clothing. As early as 10 years of age, she was gifted with a sewing machine as she was never really satisfied with how her own clothes were made.

From her early teen years, Bibi knew she wanted to do something different despite receiving multiple awards for her arts.

So after she finished school from Kamrunnisa High and Home Economics College, she left for London, where she had to insist the authority for 6months consistently to finally get in.

Her big break

She was finishing her degree with a scholarship when for her last project she had to design 11 outfits and showcase them in a runway. At the insistence of one of her teachers, she sported the first and last one of her designs on the runway herself even though she wasn’t exactly warmed up to the idea of modelling, “my parents were already hearing a lot on how their daughter has gone off to become a tailor”.

After Bibi’s graduation show, she started to get a lot of offers from agencies and magazines. The first one she posed for was Harper Bazaar (so you probably shouldn’t procrastinate on your thesis/ projects so much). Her teachers encouraged her to take up this opportunity to learn about the fashion world as much as she can and that is precisely what she did. Her first show was with Valentino, and Vogue’s admiration for Bibi put her on the map pretty strongly “you could put two teacups on her cheekbones”, Vogue famously said.

Bibi Russell walked the ramp alongside the likes of Naomi Campbell and modelled in prestigious campaigns of Jaguar, BMW and Toyota among many others.

Her bottomless bucket of achievements

After she put her long and glorious modelling career to rest (from 1978- 94), she completely concentrated on putting Bangladeshi rural weavers out for the world to see. Her first collection was displayed in Paris, February ’96 in collaboration with UNESCO, her second one supported by the Queen of Spain in ’98- both of which of course showcased Gamcha, Khadi, Jamdani and other native Bangladeshi fabrics which were praised worldwide for their eco-friendly nature.

Bibi was awarded as Designer of Development in 1998 and Artist for Peace in 2001 from UNESCO. She also received “Cross of Officer of the Order of Queen Isabella” from the Spanish government for her influence on the Spanish Fashion industry and these only started her journey towards a lifetime of achievements and awards- all of which she always dedicated to the people who work for her and help her shape the dreams.

There were questions raised at one point about the child labourers Bibi employed in her production house, but during the making of a documentary she cleared the air up by showing how its more of a learning process of the craft for the children than it is about work. Her more recent work with acid attack survivors and rural Rajsthani weavers has also been the topic of international discussion.

The pull towards her root

Fluent in three (Bengali, English, Italian) and moderate in three more (Spanish, French, German) languages, with an already established career in modelling, Bibi could easily continue on the international platform as she was. She didn’t really have to come back to Bangladesh and try her hardest to revive our almost dying hand-woven textile industry. But she did anyway and after her Paris show, she got almost 30000 orders for the weavers who worked for her, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Now more than 35,000 weavers, excluding the people who work on other sectors of the house, from all over the country work for Bibi Production that produces and makes dresses out of all hand-woven, deshi material. Her production house has put Bangladesh’s best foot forward by exporting the products to Europe and the USA.

With all these success and acclamation, Bibi had every chance to bury her head in the clouds and forget her root, but she seems to be more pulled towards it with time. In fact, when she first came back to Bangladesh she spent month after months travelling all throughout the remote villages, learning different dialects and cultures to get a better understanding of the trade and the people she’s going to be working with. She has always been admirably vocal about getting recognition for the people whose relentless effort makes the wonderful world of glamour more magical. In return, the people she works and stays with has always embraced her with open homes and open hearts.

To sum it up, Bibi Russell has been the epitome of that artistic yet successful cousin who our parents want us to stay away from while we dream to be them someday. If her life is any indication, we should definitely try at the very least.

Challenging the foundations of Bangladeshi parenting with Jomano Kotha

The parent-child relationship is one which is multi-faceted, one that has to be nurtured and where both parties play a pivotal role. In order to understand each other, parents and children need to communicate effectively and be able to identify when they are needed by the other. The intricacies of the various aspects of these relationships were highlighted in the event, “Jomano Kotha”.

An event called Jomano Kotha: Exploring parent-child relationships, organised by Kotha, took place at the EMK Centre on October 12th. The event brought together both demographics – parents and children – in the same space to unpack relationship dynamics in the context of Bangladesh.

A New Approach

The structure of the event was quite unique and was designed around an Interactive Theatre segment. The 2 act play followed the same scenario in which a father reacts to his young daughter returning home past curfew. The two acts depicted contrasting interactions between the two characters and helped initiate conversations regarding healthy parental communication. In the first act, the father’s concern for his daughter’s safety comes off as hostile and aggressive while in the second act, he reacts in a more composed, sensitive manner. Following each act of the skit, the audience posed questions to the actors, who stayed in character while answering them, allowing people to unpack each character’s motivations and the impact they had on the other. The skit allowed parents and children to observe interactions that they have only been directly involved in allowing more objective reflection. Analyzing the situation from both the child and the parent’s perspective helped build more empathy.

Exploring parent-child relationship in Bangladeshi society 1
Auyon (Ace) and Aahir Mrittika played the character of Baba and daughter respectively.

The discussion pushed boundaries but created the space for participants to be vulnerable and honest with each other. Some parents acknowledged that the violence they perpetrate against their children was learned from their own mothers and fathers. In a society like ours, the common perception is that familial relationships do not require work but is to be taken for granted. Participants discussed that it is crucial to nurture relationships between parents and children through building trust and practising healthy communication. One parent mentioned the importance of respecting children’s privacy. “Children have a right to privacy and allowing privacy and respecting their boundaries do not necessarily mean they are involved in wrongdoings.”

Creating the space -A parent’s duty

While parents pushed for children to be more open with them, children asserted that in order for them to openly share their thoughts and feelings, parents have to allow them space to open up. Sharing cannot happen out of obligation or expectations set by parents. One participant speaking from the child’s perspective pointed out that in the pursuit of ensuring a child’s physical safety parents often put their child’s mental health through various forms of intimidation. One key takeaway from the skit for parents was the need to take their children’s mental health into account during any interaction. One mother said, “The words “I’m here for you” is very important for children to hear. Growing up we never heard it. We heard it when we were much older, after marriage. We need to always tell our children, we are on their side.”

Through the discussion, it was concluded that both parents and children have to actively try to preserve their relationship.

The phrase “two-way street” came up in the discussion and it perfectly articulates the fact that both individuals have a role to play in the building of the relationship. It was noted that both parents and children need to work on letting the other party into different aspects of their lives.  

Towards a better culture

“Family is at the heart of South Asian culture. However, a large part of this culture is also unhealthy and toxic to an extent. Communication barriers with parents were one of the most common struggles that the adolescents we work with mentioned and it was also something we noticed in too many of our friends.

Kotha wanted to explore parent-child relationships in Bangladesh to see what it would be like to redefine those relationships and interactions. Our challenge for Jomano Kotha was to frame this issue as a societal and cultural issue. By bringing private, individualized conversations out into the public sphere we were able to do just that.

We did not expect such an big response from both demographics – parents and children and we noticed a real demand from people to engage in these conversations but in a healthy, constructive manner. We were so happy to host a full house and received requests to start a Jomano Kotha series. Our greatest success was to be able to create the space for such honest and genuine conversation between generations.”

Says Umama Zillur, founder of Kotha who organised the event

Kotha is a primary intervention program aiming to address the culture of violence in Bangladesh. Although they work in a few different areas, Kotha’s flagship project is Kotha at School, a school-based interactive curriculum that teaches adolescents about issues of gender, consent, relationships, bullying etc alongside traditional subjects.   

Impacting lives beyond connectivity

Channelling excess energy from edotco sites to improve the quality of life for over 3,500 people 

edotco Group Sdn Bhd (“edotco”), the region’s end-to-end integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company, is improving the lives of over 3,500 people in the rural areas of Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Malaysia through its Tower to Community (T2C) programme. 

Going beyond its core purpose of enabling connectivity, edotco channels excess electricity from its towers to power up homes and services for communities living in nearby areas. This surplus energy is derived from a combination of renewable energy sources and diesel generators equipped at each site.

“edotco believes that it has a purpose beyond being a telecommunications provider. We seek to also improve the lives of communities living close to our towers. We work hand-in-hand with a wide-range of stakeholders as partners in a number of initiatives. The considerable impact from our T2C initiatives are a testament of our commitment to deliver excellence even in areas outside our business priorities. Whether it is to power homes, medical facilities, schools or places of worship, we strive to improve the quality of lives for those living nearby our towers,”

said edotco Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Suresh Sidhu.

While access to electricity for the larger population in Bangladesh and Myanmar have been rising with electrification rates at 88% and 70% respectively in 2017, there are still pockets of communities that are not connected to the national grid. These segments struggle to meet basic needs and comfort as reliable and affordable access to electricity continues to be a challenge. 

Against this backdrop, edotco’s T2C programme was launched in 2016 as one of its key initiatives to address the unmet needs of people living nearby its towers. Today, there are a total of 32 sites across Bangladesh, Myanmar, and Malaysia that are bringing a positive impact in communities.

Since its inception, this initiative has enhanced the lives at home for school children and their families by generating electricity to power 1,020 houses in over 26 locations in Bangladesh.

To improve the living conditions of these communities, edotco has also extended its initiative by installing solar-powered water pumps to ensure over 30 families in villages located in Jadur Haat and Nilphamari have access to clean and safe drinking water. The initiative also powers up one hospital, 30 mosques and 28 schools in Bangladesh. 

Addressing a different need in Myanmar, the T2C initiative tends to the limited healthcare access in remote communities by powering up refrigeration systems to maintain the cold chain to store Hepatitis B, BCG, Measles, and Oral polio vaccination for over 2,000 families in rural hard to reach areas. Similarly, in Malaysia, the T2C project provides a reliable source of energy to power the refrigeration system and bi-monthly operation of an Orang Asli community clinic in the remote areas of Cameron Highlands. 

“We place great emphasis on making a positive impact in the communities in which we operate. At edotco, we believe that you are only as good as what you give back to society. That is why we strive to lead by example and ensure our operations are handled responsibly and sustainably,” added Suresh.

In addition to its community enrichment projects, edotco also focuses on sustainability – a core principle that guides its overall business operations by ensuring its modern-day telecommunications infrastructure solutions are increasingly environmentally friendly. 

About edotco Group

Established in 2012, edotco Group is the first regional and integrated telecommunications infrastructure services company in Asia, providing end-to-end solutions in the tower services sector from tower leasing, co-locations, build-to-suit, energy, transmission and operations and maintenance (O&M).

edotco Group operates and manages a regional portfolio of over 29,300 towers across core markets of Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Philippines and Pakistan with 18,800 towers directly operated by edotco and a further 10,500 towers managed through a range of services provided. edotco strives to deliver outstanding performance in telecommunications infrastructure services and solutions. Its state-of-the-art real-time monitoring service, echo, has driven significant improvements in field operations while maximizing operational efficiencies in terms of battery, energy and fuel consumption for telecommunications infrastructure.

edotco Group was recently awarded the Frost & Sullivan 2019 Asia Pacific Telecoms Tower Company of the Year Award for its demonstrated exemplary business growth and performance in Southeast Asia.