Bangladeshi Diaspora Leaders Programme

For leaders who want to increase their impact in Bangladesh and the UK – and build bridges between the two.

The collaboration between the British Council and Common Purpose began with a diaspora leadership programme in 2015. We are now launching a new programme together which is part of the British Council Bangladesh project called LEAD Bangladesh.

The aim is to support Bangladeshi Diaspora leaders to increase their impact both in Bangladesh and in the UK, and to provide mentorship and expertise to young leaders working on social action projects in Bangladesh. The social action projects will address three key areas of Bangladesh's development linked to the Sustainable Development Goals of Social entrepreneurship, Climate impact and Democratic inclusion.

We will build mentoring relationships between diaspora leaders in the UK and young leaders from the British Council's LEAD Bangladesh project in Bangladesh.

Tom Miscioscia, Director – Bangladesh at British Council

"We are delighted to partner with Common Purpose to bring together leaders from the UK diaspora with young leaders in Bangladesh through the LEAD Bangladesh project, with the goal of exchanging knowledge, ideas and experience. We hope this initiative will be enriching for all involved, and provide the creative spark for exciting social action projects that will benefit local communities and the country as a whole."

Who is it for?

Who takes part?

We invite applications from exceptional leaders from the Bangladeshi diaspora. Applicants can be in the early stage of their careers or more established leaders. We are seeking a participant group that includes people from different generations. They may have experience of leadership from different walks of life and from any sector.


Why take part?

This experience will help participants to:

  • enhance their ability to Lead Beyond Authority – the ability to lead in situations where they have no formal authority, which is key for diaspora leaders
  • develop their thinking on possible futures for Bangladesh – and grow their capacity to translate that thinking into positive action
  • build new networks – by giving them access to participants and contributors they might otherwise never meet
  • develop their Cultural Intelligence – the ability to cross boundaries and thrive in multiple cultures, by throwing them into a difficult task with a diverse group
  • stretch their analytical and creative skills – by exposing them to a new approach to innovation
  • develop their mentoring skills to support young people (aged 18-35) in Bangladesh
Afiya Begum, Strategy, Policy & Performance Officer, Tower Hamlets Borough Council - Participant, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme 2015

"The programme was a fantastic opportunity to meet other diaspora leaders from all across the UK, learn from them and also learn more about ourselves."

How will it work?

The programme focuses on a challenge: "How can we as Bangladeshi diaspora leaders support the young leaders of Bangladesh with information, knowledge and know how to address the country’s development challenges through effective social action towards the SDGs?"

This challenge will provide the framework for the programme. Over three days participants are guided through a process of creativity and innovation, to explore the challenge through every possible angle – visiting organizations and meeting leaders with knowledge of Bangladesh, development challenges and/or diaspora leadership.

Participants work up practical ideas in response to the challenge, which they present to a panel of senior leaders at the end of the programme. They then work on their ideas individually and collectively, building long-lasting connections and developing projects that can be prototyped in the 'real world' beyond the programme.

The programme will also include a session on mentoring in preparation for the work with young leaders in Bangladesh.

Following a three day face-to-face programme and a half day online session, the participants will join the Common Purpose alumni community. Then they will be ‘matched’ with young leader mentees in Bangladesh. Through a structured mentoring programme over six months they will work with their mentees to provide support, ideas and expertise to help the young people with their social action projects.

In 2022, the young people will come to the UK to take part in a leadership programme, and the alumni mentors will be invited to join this programme to meet face to face with their mentees. This will be an opportunity to strengthen their mentoring relationship, and build on what they have worked on together over the previous months.

Shajan Miah, Founder, Teach Skills International

Shajan Miah lost his beloved sister, Khela Begum, when she was only 12 years old. The terrible tragedy has shaped his life’s mission – to inspire a new generation of young people of Bangladesh as a tribute to his sister.

In November 2015, Shajan attended the Pakistani and Bangladeshi Diaspora Leaders Programme. The programme, supported by the British Council, is focused on helping the many Bangladeshi and Pakistani diaspora leaders to build their capacity to contribute to development in their home countries.

The programme provided Shajan with the opportunity to create an inspiring vision and set clear, compelling goals to achieving his mission. He became inspired to take risks and step out of his comfort zone.

Shajan decided to take a six-month career break after the programme ended. He spent that time in Bangladesh to set up the non-profit organization Teach Skills International, an educational agency that provides talks, workshops and full-day activities for schools, colleges and university students. It aims to teach students the skills they need for the jobs of the future. Over the past few years, Teach Skills International has engaged 140 schools in Bangladesh and developed a partnership with other non-profit organizations and the Bangladeshi government.

“I understood that to be a great leader it was vital that I was on the ground using my leadership skills, resources and commitment to drive and deliver the best results for all stakeholders. It was brilliant to explore my own current challenges during the programme. I really appreciated the support from the other diaspora leaders and finding out about their ideas too helped provide me with some new insights.”

Our programmes in 2019:


feel better able to build stronger working relationships


feel better able to have a greater impact in their organization and/or wider community


feel better able to adjust their behaviour in culturally diverse situations

Shajan Miah, Broadcast Digital Journalist, BBC Sport – Participant, Bangladeshi and Pakistani Diaspora Leaders Programme 2015

"I understood that to be a great leader it was vital that I was on the ground using my leadership skills, resources and commitment to drive and deliver the best results for all stakeholders. It was brilliant to explore my own current challenges during the programme. I really appreciated the support from the other diaspora leaders and finding out about their ideas too helped provide me with some new insights."


What are the dates, time commitment and location?

5–7 October 2021, London for the diaspora leadership programme.

17 November 2021, 3 hour online mentoring training.

12 hours of mentor support online in 2022 to young leaders in Bangladesh (dates to be agreed).

1 day (date to be agreed) in 2022 in London to work with the mentees as part of their leadership programme.


How do I apply?

Please click here to apply. The application deadline is 09:00 BST on 13 September 2021.

What will it cost? 

There is no cost to the participants to take part, the programme is funded by the British Council Bangladesh. There may be costs associated with travel and accommodation (as required). Some bursaries are available for those outside London.


Want to find out more? 

If you would like to discuss the programme please contact us


The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language. We help young people to gain the skills, confidence and connections they are looking for to realize their potential and to participate in strong and inclusive communities. We support them to learn English, to get a high-quality education and to gain internationally recognised qualifications. Our work in arts and culture stimulates creative expression and exchange and nurtures creative enterprise. We have been working in Bangladesh since 1951. Every year we connect with thousands of students, educators, policymakers, academics, partners, local government, UK diaspora and civil society in Bangladesh.

LEAD Bangladesh

Leadership for Advancing Development in Bangladesh, also known as LEAD Bangladesh, is a British Council project that aims to support young people in Bangladesh to be empowered and skilled as leaders in their communities.

The primary intervention of LEAD Bangladesh project is to work with 3000 young people across Bangladesh to enhance leadership skills, through identifying key challenges and collaborating with leaders from the Bangladeshi diaspora community in the United Kingdom.

As part of the programme, the participants will aim to affect change in their communities through Social Action Projects (SAPs) in the key areas of Bangladesh’s development, linked to SDGs.

Common Purpose is a leadership development organization that specializes in cross-boundary leadership. A not-for-profit, we run programmes in over 100 cities worldwide. Founded in 1989, we have over 110,000 alumni globally. Our leadership development programmes inspire and equip people to work across boundaries. This enables them to solve complex problems in organizations and in society.