Most of us, at some point in our lives believed that we could have achieved so much more only if we had information of the opportunities around us. One such youth took it upon himself to make sure others are not deprived of opportunities by creating an information sharing platform where people can easily get to know of the various activities they can participate in.
To realize this dream of his, Osama Bin Noor, along with his team, launched youthop.com. The main aim of the website was to provide opportunities to young people to help prepare them for the challenges that they would face later on in their careers.
In December 2015 Osama was named the winner of the Queen’s Young Leaders award for his website youthop.com. It should take only a little effort to recall the images of Osama receiving the award from the Queen of England as it was all over social media. What made the pictures more memorable was the fact that he was wearing traditional Bengali clothes during the ceremony.
In an interview with Bangladesh Brand Forum (BBF), Osama talked about his website, childhood, and future plans.
BBF: How did youthop.com come into being? What was your motivation behind it?
Osama Bin Noor: I always thought that we can affect lives by providing opportunities. But information about the different things that young people can indulge in wasn’t readily available. I thought of my own past, how there was a lack of information, how there were others who could have achieved so much more if they knew of the opportunities.
So we thought of creating a platform where people would get to know about all kinds of opportunities. This was our main focus; make sure people have equal access, not gaining recognition.
BBF: Tell us about the early days of youthop. What has changed since then? What challenges did you have to overcome?
Osama Bin Noor: Youthop started off as just a Facebook page. Since I was working in different projects, I knew of different events/workshops/competitions, so I shared those in the page. I told one of my foreigner friends about my page and he agreed to inform me about international events so that I could share it in the page.
We got a huge amount of followers in a short time, some of which were international. We realized it was time for a website and with the help of a senior, we launched youthop.com. But the website got shut down after 2 days because of huge traffic. We had to buy a domain and relaunch. Currently we are working on adding new features, developing a mobile app, and redeveloping the website.
As for the challenges, the minor ones were that I didn’t have much to invest; neither did I have an internet connection or a laptop. As for the major one, it was will power. I was my biggest challenge. Only through firm belief in myself was I able to overcome all the obstacles along the way.
BBF: Tell us about your childhood. What were your goals and dreams growing up?
Osama Bin Noor: I studied in a Madrasa in Narshingdi until class 1, after that I came to Dhaka where I got admitted to another Madrasa and finished my Dakhil (SSC) and Aalim (HSC) in Dhaka as well. While growing up, I wanted to join the scout. Oh, and I also wanted to be a pilot!
As a child, my family had the greatest influence on me. They imparted good manners and teachings to me for which I am thankful. Although I had all types of friends, I could differentiate the good from the bad and was always careful to avoid the bad things.
Toward the end of my school life, I started working on various developmental projects; it was also during this time that I enrolled in a leadership training program at BYLC. Also every Thursdays I used to go to my village to help the school children with their education and homework. It was during this time that I stepped outside my comfort zone and started interacting with people.
BBF: How was the experience of receiving the coveted award from Her Majesty?
Osama Bin Noor: To begin with, I never imagined that I would receive such an award. It made the whole journey worthwhile. As for receiving the award, I would say that I earned a lot of respect. Being flown to England, taken to Buckingham Palace, being presented the award by the queen, I can summarize the whole event by saying that I earned a lot of respect.
But I think respect is a subjective matter. Back in 2010, meeting the then BYLC president was my proudest achievement. Again, I had never thought of such a moment back then.
BBF: You have a radio show where you motivate and encourage teenagers. What does such counseling activity mean to you?
Osama Bin Noor: Teenage is very critical to one’s overall life. Teenagers tend to be emotional, malleable, and often cannot differentiate between right and wrong. In our show they can talk about their feelings, problems, etc. that they cannot share with their parents. Being close to their age, we try to relate to their story and provide advice. I feel it is my duty to guide the youth and show them the way. If i can affect the life of even a single individual, I will feel like I’ve succeeded.
BBF: What comes next for youthop and for you?
Osama Bin Noor: As for youthop is concerned, we will always try to reach more and more people. Apart from that we are developing a mobile application and also planning for a redeveloped website.
As for me, I will continue to serve people by empowering and developing the youth through whatever means I can.