Shah Rafayat Chowdhury, a 24-year-old environmentalist and social entrepreneur, has become the first Bangladeshi to win the AFS Prize for Young Global Citizens.
He was selected from thousands of candidates from around the world for this year's prize for his outstanding contribution in the development sector as Co-Founder and President of Footsteps Bangladesh, a renowned Bangladeshi social enterprise.
The award, which started in 2019, is organised and presented by AFS Intercultural Programs -- an international NGO which provides intercultural learning opportunities to help people develop knowledge, skills and understanding needed to create a more just and peaceful world.
The organisation recognises an extraordinary young person for their commitment to improving the global community each year for this award.
Rafayat founded Footsteps Bangladesh in 2013 at the age of 17, with a vision to design social ventures which not only addressed the complex social challenges existing in our communities but to also change community mentality from aid dependency to self-reliance in order to create resilient and sustainable communities across Bangladesh.
Till date, Footsteps has impacted over 100,000 lives in over 16 districts across Bangladesh in the form of safe water access, disaster response, capacity building, waste management schemes and health programs, according to a press release from Footsteps Bangladesh.
The award comes with a cash prize of $10,000, which will be utilised by the organisation to expand the reach and impact of Project Trishna, one of Footsteps' key social ventures creating safe water access across Bangladesh. The recipient of the AFS Prize was announced via a virtual ceremony on the 23rd of October in the presence of officials from AFS, UNESCO and Education Ministries of various countries.
Earlier in July this year, Rafayat received the prestigious Diana Award for his work on Footsteps. Shah was also recognised as one of the 16 promising global young leaders by the European Commission in 2018. He completed his degree on Environmental Economics and Policy from the Pennsylvania State University in December 2018 and came back to Bangladesh to commit full time to the mission of Footsteps Bangladesh.