The Aha moment evolved from 2005. I saw Bono's campaign for Live 8, and inspired by it, i dropped out of school at Grade 10 and started my organization. At first, it was a non profit donor driven organization. And it worked - I had projects funded by the UN and MTV, but by 2010, having been exposed to rural Bangladesh and meeting countless farmers and having tea with them, I realized that Bangladesh needs to get back to its basics. Agriculture is in our blood - we have been endowed with fertile land for a reason, and while I am proud of Bangladesh's growth through garments, we must infuse modern technology into agriculture so that it can drive our economy and feed itself.
1. Farzeen Ferdous Alam - Founder and Chairman, Bachelor in Social Science in Economics, University of Dhaka, Award Winning (UN and MTV) Serial Entrepreneur, Full Time
2. Dr. Ferdousi Begum - Co Founder, Managing Director and Chief Scientist, Bachelor in Science in Botany, University of Dhaka, Masters in Science, University of Dhaka, PhD in Genetic Engineering (Thesis on Tissue Culture), Bose Institute, University of Calcutta, One of the leading scientists in Bangladesh, winner of National Science Book Award, Proud Farmer, Full Time
3. Richard Catherall - Strategic Director, MBA, Founding Director of Katarsis Venture (Partner of Ferdous Biotech), Expertise on International Development with strong association with the UN, World Vision and other reputed organizations, Part Time
4. Moniruzzuman Khokhon - General Manager, BBA and MBA, National University, substantial experience in administration with prior experience in working with farmers in the local level, Full Time
5. Obaydul Islam - Deputy General Manager, BBA and MBA, National University, born and raised in a potato growing region, understands the market and works directly with our farmers, Full TIme
This is the core team, while Richard joined us recently, the rest of us have seen this grow from the white board to the field and our strongest collective qualification is that we all have each other's back. As we expand, the most urgent matter at hand is finding a successor for Dr. Ferdousi as she is the most senior in terms of age and also because her function as Chief Scientist is at the heart of our work. This is why the International Farmers' Academy is so crucial as through it we plan to develop international standard scientists through partnership with the likes of the International Potato Center in Peru.
The second aspect we need to consider as we expand is that we need to increase our field level staff as ensuring quality at every cycle of the seed production is crucial.
The current average age of the core team is 33 and we plan to keep it around that range as we expand. We have to be young, we have to be crazy to be able to continue to innovate. At present, 45% of our full team (laboratory to field) is women, and we plan to expand that to at least 60%.