Only optimism and positivity can bring about positive changes in the society. This is why Junior Chamber International (JCI), an international non-profit organization, is solely working with the youth to create a generation of doers, achievers and reformers. JCI operates in 124 countries globally. Operation in Bangladesh started since 1972, relentlessly working to identify and nurture young leaders in the community with youth aged from 18 to 40.
While discussing the scopes and opportunities offered to individuals by JCI, the current National President M Nazrul Islam said, “JCI is a platform for young active citizens where individuals are provided with development opportunities that empower them to initiate positive change. Our members learn how to get to the core of a problem and develop targeted solutions that helps eliminate the cause or reduce the effect. The process allows our members to hone their leadership skills, and ultimately emerge as better leaders.”
With the aim to encourage young leaders to become responsible citizens and participating in social and economic development initiatives, JCI’s program mainly focuses on four core areas: Individual Development, Community Development, Business Development and International Relationship Development.
Photo: In Safety First Campaign, children from Hatirzheel Tejkuni drew different scenarios that they usually saw on the streets of Dhaka. The children's artwork were then returned to be shared with their family and neighbors so that they can receive the valuable massage from their own kids.
Under JCI Bangladesh, 12 local organizations are positioned around the country which work mostly for the sectors of community and individual development. Under these organizations, JCI identifies the root cause of various problems plaguing our community and develop projects that can address these issues. Mr. Islam says, “These projects aim to either eradicate the problem, or at least to reduce it by a considerable margin.”
‘Better Health for Better Life’ is one of the exemplary project of JCI. The initial goal of ‘Better Health for Better Life’ project was to provide more than 1000 expecting mothers and new born babies with proper medication, vaccination and consultation guideline through medical camps in different parts of the country. Sponsored by Eskayef Pharmaceuticals and California Fried Chicken and supported by Uttara Adhunik Medical College, the project was designed to meet MDG#5 and MDG#4 which aim for improving maternal health and reduce child mortality respectively.
Because JCI members range from entrepreneurs to people from technical background, four doctors within JCI was identified to conduct the project. ‘Better Health for Better Life’ began in 2013, and has already surpassed its initial goal. It is now aiming for an additional 2,000 mothers and infants for the following year.
Photo: Snapshots from "Better Health Better Life" campaign
Mr. Islam emphasized the significance of JCI’s various collaborations with other organizations for projects. “Since its inception, JCI has always worked with partners and strongly believes that it will be the organization that will unite all sectors of the society to ensure sustainable impact.”
Mr. Islam has been involved with the JCI for seven years. A few months into JCI Bangladesh, he was designated the Director of International Development. Mr. Islam's passion for JCI only grew with time. In 2010, he was elected as Local President of JCI Dhaka South. After completing a successful year as Local President, he was elected as the National Vice President in 2011. Between 2012 and 2014, Nazrul served in various positions including General Legal Counsel and National Executive Vice President. Finally in the General Assembly of 2014, Mr. Islam was elected the National President for the term of 2015.
As the National President of JCI Bangladesh, Nazrul is tasked with aligning all the activities under JCI Bangladesh so that they reflect the mission and vision of JCI, introduce new strategies to ensure the sustainable growth and stability of the organization and design programs for the JC’s that will enhance their leadership skills among other responsibilities.
Every year JCI hosts Asia Pacific Conference and World Congress where members from all over the world congregate and share promising ideas. Multiple forums, seminars, training programs and workshops held during these events enable members to expand their networks beyond their national boundaries. The exposure gained in the process is crucial to understanding the dynamics of the reining global issues. However, Mr. Islam strongly discourages joining JCI unless one is ready to completely commit to the cause. “I have seen young people joining JCI for the wrong reasons and then eventually leave the organization. You can only expect to get something from JCI if you are equally invested in it.”
To celebrate the endeavours of successful young individuals, JCI Bangladesh organizes a remarkable award ceremony titled 'Ten Outstanding Young Persons (TOYP) of Bangladesh'. These individuals exemplify what the JCI stands for, and what they wish to achieve through their program in the process. Additionally, JCI also organizes the Creative Young Entrepreneurs Award where ten individuals are recognized for their creative entrepreneurial ideas.
Photo: Winners of the JCI-TOYP awards 2015
Unlike many other non-profit organizations trying to save the world and make the world a better place, JCI works to make better human beings. Change begins with individuals and JCI is focused on creating individuals who will ensure positive change.
For someone who is looking for a platform to share their big ideas and ‘Go Big’, JCI just might be the place to start with. It is a place to meet the right people within Bangladesh as well as expand one’s network off-shore.