Local ?Bridge-Maker? Turns Up at Davos
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Shawn Ahmed is tweeting gleefully about the white all-access badge he’s been handed at the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where politicians and CEOs are meeting this week to try to solve some of the world’s biggest problems.
The 29-year-old Canadian landed a coveted seat representing the YouTube community after winning an international online competition called the Davos Debates.
It’s a coup for a guy from Richmond Hill who ditched a graduate program at Indiana’s Notre Dame University about four years ago, then grabbed a laptop and a camcorder and flew to Bangladesh to help the poor. Along the way, he launched The Uncultured Project, using YouTube and Twitter to connect web-savvy friends and donors with people in need.
Ahmed’s parents were born and raised in Bangladesh and survived the liberation war that turned East Pakistan into Bangladesh before immigrating to Canada. As a child, Ahmed visited his grandfather in Bangladesh, where he saw children begging in the streets and vowed to help them one day.
That day didn’t come until an inspirational meeting about four years ago with the economist Jeffrey Sachs, who made Ahmed realize it was his generation’s responsibility to end world poverty.
Since then, he has been working independently but alongside established organizations such as Save the Children USA. But Ahmed isn’t a registered charity. He’s just a guy with some video equipment, an Internet connection and a lot of fans, who lives in his parents’ Richmond Hill home when he isn’t sleeping in spare rooms in Bangladesh.