Microsoft in partnership with the US State Department and Al Ahli Holding Group CSR Division hosted the premier event of the U.S. State Department’s Startup Youth Initiative, Innovate for Good, in Dubai. Innovate for Good is a Microsoft YouthSpark program that enables youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to make a difference in their communities and provides the tools and resources needed to bring their ideas to reality. The Startup Youth initiative provides entrepreneurship programs and events in conjunction with the private sector to facilitate opportunities for young entrepreneurs to actualize their ideas, helping promote individual prosperity, job creation and economic growth in communities worldwide.
Innovate for Good brings together youth from around the world in local events and in a global online community to provide support for their ideas on making a difference. To this community, Microsoft brings the knowledge that the company, its employees, and alumni have gained over more than 30 years of innovation, business and technology expertise as well as active engagement in more than 100 countries around the world and shares it to spark and inspire the next generation of good.
The speaker lineup at the Innovate for Good event included US Ambassador to the Emirates, Michael Corbin, who made a special appearance and thanked Microsoft for its leadership in promoting youth opportunity in the Gulf , Dr. Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs and Zeenat Rahman, the US Secretary of State’s Special Advisor on Global Youth Issues , Dr. Azza El Shinnawy, Education and Citizenship Lead, Microsoft Gulf, Sabeen, Malik US State Department senior Advisor for External Engagement, Office of Global Youth Issues and Mohamed Khammas, CEO at Al Ahli Group.
Speaking at the Innovate for Good event, Dr. Akhtar Badshah, Senior Director, Citizenship and Public Affairs Microsoft Corporation, said: “Technology has a role to play in how we can level the playing field and how we can provide access to youth in underprivileged communities. But technology has to be connected with empowering youth by building their skills, by inspiring them to innovate and become change-makers. Finally we have to invest in them through time, talent and treasure so we can support them to realize their potential and that they create a world that they can thrive in.”
Dr. Azza El Shinnawy, Education and Citizenship Lead, Microsoft Gulf said: “We are very excited to be launching the Innnovate4Good initiative in the UAE in partnership with the US State Department and Al Ahli Group in the UAE. The UAE is an active supporter of youth innovation and we are hoping to support the vision of the leaders of the country through this platform, she said”. “Our vision is to build an active community of youth leaders from the United Arab Emirates that are engaging with each other youth to share ideas and exchange of resources as well as training materials through our online platform at Innovate4Good. Technology has a role to play in how we can level the playing field and how we can provide access to youth in underprivileged communities,” she continued.
Over fifty young innovators spent the day learning skills on how to present and pitch ideas and hearing from leading social innovation and entrepreneurship experts. Their ideas the discussions generated during the event ranged from creating mobile applications that contribute to charity purposes, to designing and producing fashionable recycled products through auctions, media and online tools created by women in prison. Students discussed creative solutions through technology innovation around education, to environment, health, women’s empowerment, and poverty alleviation. At the end of the event, two top ideas were selected to receive a one month mentoring and coaching session from the Taking IT Global organization and CSR in Action of Al Ahli Group, which will help the two teams take their ideas forward.
Mohammed Khammas, CEO-Al Ahli Holding Group: “We are very proud to have joined hands with Microsoft and the US State Department once again to help develop a socially responsible generation in the UAE. Social entrepreneurship is becoming increasingly important and is highly needed for economic and social development as it adds both economic and social values helping create new employment opportunities and at the same time providing unconventional products and services that contribute to solving some of the biggest societal problems and confronts them in innovative ways.”
The Innovate for Good events are scheduled to continue in 2013, with stops in Kenya in February, South Africa in March and Morocco in April.