CNN’s Growing Bangladesh spotlights innovators at frontline of the country’s sustainable growth

Published : 29 Mar 2023 08:24 PM

In a brand-new 30-minute program, CNN’s Growing Bangladesh explores how the country is gearing up for sustainable growth – both economically and environmentally. 

The low-lying nation is one of the most climate-vulnerable in the world, and its changemakers are finding localized solutions for Bangladesh’s challenges, from flood-proof homes to solar-powered pay-as-you-go microgrids.

CNN first meets Marina Tabassum, an award-winning architect with landmark designs such as Bangladesh’s Museum of Independence Monument. Tabassum bases most of her projects in her home country of Bangladesh, drawing from the country’s rich history, culture, and needs – with a focus on creating better homes and lives for Bangladeshi people. 

Standing at the frontline of climate change mitigation, she is developing flatpack bamboo homes for those affected by flooding. Her work aims to make a difference and embrace social responsibility, while celebrating the heritage of her home country.

With nearly 50 percent of Bangladesh’s population employed in agriculture, and more than 70 percent of its land used for farming, Fahad Ifaz and his friends knew that this was a core sector worth transforming. 

They founded iFarmer in 2019, which aims to increase farmers' income and productivity by providing bundled services for finance, timely advisories, education, modern farming technology, and access to inputs and the right markets. 

With more than 87,000 farmers registered on the platform, the company has revolutionized the agricultural sector in Bangladesh by facilitating more than $19 million in funding support for farmers across the country and helping to sell nearly 190,000 tons of produce.

CNN then spoke to Salma Islam, head of projects, fundraising and communications at SOLshare, a startup hoping to kickstart the electric vehicle (EV) revolution in Bangladesh, with the country aiming to cut transport emissions by 3.4 million tons CO2eq by 2030 to combat pollution in Dhaka. 

SOLshare is hoping to upgrade Bangladesh’s 2.5 million-strong fleet of three-wheelers, by swapping old lead-acid batteries for more efficient, lighter, lithium-ion ones. The company is bringing clean energy to rural communities, too, by connecting home solar systems to a neighborhood energy network. 

The company is backed by Sonia Bashir Kabir, the founder and managing director of venture capital fund SBK Tech Ventures. With her finger on the pulse of Dhaka’s flourishing startup scene, Kabir focuses on ideas that have the potential to positively impact the masses.