Bangladesh and Design, my diva

Bangladesh and Design. My Diva

Last year, when I was in Bangladesh to meet my friend Kallol Naha, I met a lot of great and welcoming people. Take that literally, 168 million people on a wet piece of land little larger than The Netherlands and Belgium combined. Traveling through Bangladesh learned me that this country has totally failed to play any role in the growth all other countries in South-East Asia are seeing. How can this be, and what can be done to improve the lives’ of people in a country where the average national income is USD 480, annually?

Think of Bangladesh. Name the first thing that comes to mind. Floods. Yes. Garment industry (that was my first). The Bengali Tiger eating grandma (that happens, very little, but does).

Shortly after my visit to Bangladesh, I kept reading, and learned about the internal struggles. Religious, political. Night after night, I have been working through skype with excellent technical developers, designers, and all other odd service providers that I have been recruiting through in the last few years. Great, reliable, and hard working people. But something was wrong.

More and more it struck me that Bangladeshi hardly have any direct contact with the western world, or have real interactions on a level basis with contractors. I found out that I was one of the very few clients that they directly communicate with.While half of what you wear is made in Bangladesh, or maybe a quarter of all images being viewed have been post-processed there, the Bangladeshi have next to zero contact with the outer world, as we see it. They always operate in the dusk. Between the curtains.

So somewhere in the midst of 2016 I have started a small mission. I happened to have a very large request for digital work to be done, and thought of some of my contacts in Bangladesh. Previous experiences learned me that they will work hard, and fast, but often have a total different idea about design, aesthetics and colors. So I added a few weeks to the deadline, and decided to refuse all work, until it could compete with work from Europe.

The challenge went on. I decided to coach the team to become more client oriented. Go into long sessions about communication, culture, and effects. Connect them with international designers, examples and technologies. How to aim high, and believe in a change. Be a manager, not just a worker. And little by little we succeeded.

I can proudly say, that after 3 months of coaching, the team is growing. With now 5 people aboard, they are finding a place in the production field of digital media. My role? just a bystander. Someone who gets happy to see people grow and get Bangladeshi on the international map of design. Pay them a virtual visit, and enjoy the warmth of the team and its trainees. shameless promotion: Diva World Wide. In Dhaka.. Bangladesh.

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