Ejaj Ahmad; a Social Entrepreneur: Carving a bright future for Bangladesh

Leadership is getting people to do something positive they have never done before or never thought they could. How is  it so?! An Honest, Forward looking, Competent, Inspiring, Intelligent young Leader says it out loud:

“Real leadership is about telling people what they need to hear, not what they want to hear. And when you do that you face resistance. So there is a need for courage to face that resistance, dare to be different and try new things. Real happiness in life comes from helping others.” Ejaj Ahmad, founder and president, Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center.

Check him out on leadership, bringing Obama to Bangladesh:



The beginnings of commitment:

While writing about Ejaj-The -Leader & Change-Maker, the question that popped in our YL Volunteer Payal’s keyboard is, “Are Leaders born or made?”. Well, some people, like Ejaj, are born fearless and awe-inspiring. For example: embarking on his first leadership role in 1991 at the age of 10, Ejaj formed a group of 3 friends and raised Taka 7,000 for his father’s rotary club. This club would in turn support the people affected by floods in Bangladesh. At a young age Ejaj learned that restraint and humility are two variants of leadership while actively participating in student politics and working for health and adult literacy camps, and community service projects. He grew up being passionate about youth development. In the following years, moving on with a devotion and commitment to serve the country, Ejaj began a new journey: “a journey to change the quality of leadership in his country by training the next generation of leaders.” Ejaj set out to work on his project through his non-profit organization called ‘Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center’ (BYLC). Programs known as ‘Building Bridges through Leadership Training’ (BBLT) would teach the young generation leadership, problem solving and team work skills. These skills would be then applied in community services. As Ejaj says, “I am an entrepreneur because I wanted to change my society and for me, social entrepreneurship provided the perfect platform.”

The path:

Beginning his career as an economist, Ejaj started working in several donor funded projects (World Bank/UNDP and Bangladesh government projects). However he was soon exposed to the nuances of socio-economic-political culture of Bangladesh. He realized that to address the cycle of complexities it was not merely sufficient to recommend changes. The changes had to be bought about in reality through leadership across multiple sectors. Ejaj adds, “As social change makers the real change which needs to be brought about is in people’s behavior, values and priorities.” He crafted his vision of Bangladesh as a poverty-free nation through his BYLC initiative. Ivdad A. K. Mojlish, currently the Director of Youth Leadership programs, on his reasons of joining Ejaj in this enterprise says that the concept of BYLC “adhered to his values of uniting a divided young generation and equipping them with leadership skills to empower them and lead social change in the communities.”

The concept:

The model of a youth leadership center was developed at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in January 2008. BBLT (BYLC’s signature month long leadership program) was the brainchild of Ejaj (while pursuing Masters in Public Policy at Harvard) and Shammi S. Quddus (then an undergraduate student at Massachusetts Institute of Technology). The program won the 2008 Kathryn Davis Projects for Peace Prize. ( cool!) With support from MIT Public Service Center, the first pilot program was carried out in 2008(June to mid August) in Chittagong, Bangladesh. The program’s learnings were then encapsulated within the framework of BYLC.




Bangladesh Youth Leadership Center (BYLC):

BYLC was set up in October 2008 and registered as a non profit organization in 2009. Ejaj says, “BYLC was founded with the vision of creating a more inclusive, tolerant and just society by training the next generation of leaders.” The values of BYLC are patriotism, respect for the individual, tolerance, gender equality, team work and transparency.

BYLC’s activities were so impressive that US Embassy and British High Commission in Bangladesh happily financed it at the initial stage. It won awards from the World Bank and World Bank institute and the 2010 Innovation Grant from the  US  State Department. Today BYLC also has several local sponsors for its projects.


Upcoming BIG thing! Leadership Summit:

BYLC is going to host its first ‘Youth Leadership Summit’ in Dhaka from 3rd to 5th March 2011. About 200 delegates will be attending the event along with previous graduates from the BBLT programs. It will include high profile speakers including senior government officials. The theme is ‘The Role of Courage in Leadership.’ Ejaj feels that courage is what Bangladesh needs today. The summit will facilitate networking and knowledge sharing with plenary and concurrent panels on entrepreneurship, politics, media and journalism, health, climate change, education and careers, and leadership.

Any message to youth all over the world via YL Magazine?..Payal asked. Ejaj said smiling: “Often what holds us back is the fact that we don’t give ourselves permission to fail, we always want to succeed. If you just think about success all the time then you play it safe and tend to stay in your own competence zone. But sometimes in life we need to give ourselves permission to fail. This is critical for new social entrepreneurs because for them the future will be uncertain. You don’t know the outcome of a new project before you actually do it. So think BIG and go for your dreams.”

All the best to your dreams…to your courageously beautiful endeavor, Ejaj!  


Go ahead and read about BYLC and its activities here: http://www.asia.youth-leader.org/?p=3222


Payal Bhatnagar

As a freelance writer Payal is passionate about making a positive impact in the society through her work. Her writing expertise lies in various subjects such as travel, education, careers, history, flora and fauna, health etc. With a Masters in Business Administration and corporate sector exposure behind her, she always had the desire to volunteer and help people which led to write for the YL magazine. A busy mother of a beautiful daughter, she likes to read in her free time.



Author: Nusrat Azim

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1 Comment

  1. Good job, Payal! I guess, not just Bangladesh, but the whole of this world needs a leader like Ejaj to make a difference.

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