Environmentalist and social entrepreneur Shah Rafayat Chowdhury has become the first Bangladeshi to get the prestigious AFS Prize for Young Global Citizens, thanks to his outstanding contribution in the development sector.
At the same time, the 24-year-old youth has been the second person in the world to get the prize introduced in the previous year.
Shah was selected from thousands of candidates from around the world for this year's prize for his outstanding contribution in the development sector as Co-Founder and President of Footsteps Bangladesh, a renowned Bangladeshi social enterprise.
Talking to The Business Standard, he said the award has scaled up his responsibility to the people. Now he intends to expand his project activities.
The award is organized and presented by AFS Intercultural Programs- an international NGO which provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.
The organization recognizes one extraordinary young person for their commitment to improving the global community each year for this award.
Shah founded Footsteps Bangladesh in 2013 at the age of 17, with a vision to design social ventures which not only addressed the complex social challenges existing in our communities but to also change community mentality from aid dependency to self-reliance in order to create resilient and sustainable communities across Bangladesh.
Till date, Footsteps has impacted over 100,000 lives in over 16 districts across Bangladesh in the form of safe water access, disaster response, capacity building, waste management schemes and health programs.
The award comes with a cash prize of $10,000, which will be utilized by the organization to expand the reach and impact of Project Trishna, one of Footsteps' key social ventures creating safe water access, across Bangladesh. The recipient of the AFS Prize was announced via a virtual ceremony on the 23rd of October in the presence of officials from AFS, UNESCO and Education Ministries of various countries.
Earlier in July this year, Shah received the prestigious Diana Award for his work on Footsteps. Shah was also recognized as one of the 16 promising global young leaders by the European Commission in 2018. He completed his degree on Environmental Economics and Policy from The Pennsylvania State University in December 2018 and came back to Bangladesh to commit full time to the mission of Footsteps Bangladesh.