London-based organization ‘British-Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration’ yesterday revealed in British Parliament Commonwealth room a list of 10 most inspirational Bangladeshis around the world. It was much to my surprise that 3 of the top 10 had significant contribution in technology field. But then again, Bangladeshis were always talented. It was always the lack of opportunities for which most of us can’t shine. By looking at the background of those who made changes in technology sector, it came to me as no surprise that all of them grew up in the United States (not in Bangladesh, which is the point).
Anyway, if I were to create another list of top 3 most inspirational Bangladeshis around the world who worked in technology field, the list will come down to Jawed Karim, Salman Khan, and Sumaya Kazi. Let’s take a look at who they are and what they are famous for.
Jawed Karim — Co-Founder of YouTube
You’d be living under a rock for the past decade if you said you didn’t hear of YouTube. This video-sharing website has grown to enormous popularity not just to share home videos but also for sharing official music videos and movie trailers. Some creative filmmakers choose YouTube as their go to platform to publish their short films.
But this site did start with home videos. Jawed Karim was the one who first appeared in a YouTube video. Not to mention, that was the first YouTube video ever uploaded on YouTube. Jawed appears standing next to an animal in San Diego Zoo.
Jawed Karim is a Bangladeshi. But he was born in Germany and later moved to the United States along with his family. While working at PayPal, he met his other pals, Chad Harley and Steve Chin — and later all three of them founded YouTube in 2005.
Search giant Google later acquired YouTube for a large chunk of money.
Jawed sits on 2nd place in the list of top ten most inspirational Bangladeshis. Further reading on Jawed Karim.
Salman Khan — Founder of Khan Academy
Khan Academy is an educational website. Salman Khan, who is a Bangladeshi but was born in the United States, founded this website in 2006. He graduated from MIT and Harvard Business School.
Khan Academy features thousands of resources for learning. It has millions of exercises as well as micro-lectures in video form hosted on YouTube. The site features lessons in many, many topics ranging from Mathematics, Physics, History, Medicine, Healthcare, Economics, Chemistry, Cosmology, Astronomy, Art History, Computer Science etc.
The most important thing is, all of these educational resources are available for free to anyone in the world. According to a Wikipedia entry, Khan Academy reaches about 10,000,000 students per month and has delivered over 300,000,000 lessons.
Salman Khan’s mother was born in India and father was born in Barishal in Bangladesh. Their son secured fourth place in the list of top ten most inspirational Bangladeshis. Further reading on Salman Khan.
Sumaya Kazi — CEO of Sumazi.com
To grab from Wikipedia, Sumazi is an intelligent social navigation system for personal and professional networks. Its technology delivers personalized routing and recommendations to the people users should know based on his/her social media behavior. This San Francisco-based start-up was founded by Sumaya Kazi, a Bangladeshi born in Hollywood, California who attended the University of California, Barkeley and graduated in 2004.
After graduating, she started working at Sun Microsystems and while working there she founded her first company, The CultureConnect’, a media company for young professionals.
Then in April 2001, she founded Sumazi.com. In ‘TechCrunch Disrupt Start-up Battlefield”, Sumazi managed to be a finalist and had won an Ommidyar Network award for “Startup Most Likely to Change the World”.
Sumaya Kazi sits on the 9th place in the list of top ten most inspirational Bangladeshis created by British-Bangladeshi Power and Inspiration. Further reading on Sumaya Kazi.
Looking at the list, you can say that one thing all of them have in common is that they grew up not in Bangladesh. And I’ve always wondered if they’d get where they are had they been in Bangladesh.
The list, if not anything, should proof that if Bangladeshis are given opportunity, they can do really amazing stuff. We have no short of talents, the only thing we miss is an opportunity to bloom. Unfortunately, we are still far behind. We still don’t have a standard internet connectivity and a stable speed. We still don’t have access to things like PayPal. Electricity situation is better now, but not how it should be.
Let’s hope the government and authorities will realize that there are indeed talented people inside Bangladesh and provide opportunities so that only Bangladeshis raised abroad do not become the one to change the world.