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Tatawwar - Recognising the Potential of underprivileged children


"The challenges faced by young people today cannot be ignored" - is the opening sentence of the awe-inspiring, award-winning initiative submitted by Potential Fz LLC.

Making this statement and acknowledging this problem is one thing, but trying to provide a viable solution is something else. Something worth recognising and honouring.

Potential have been creating practical learning solutions since 2005. With such extensive experience in delivering blended learning, it wasn't too hard to join forces with HSBC to develop a youth education programme helping the underprivileged children in the MENA region. However, bringing that idea to life was not as easy. But with great devotion and resolution, they managed to lay the path for those stuck in the mud.

What exactly is Tatawwar?

The name of the project was carefully chosen. Translated from Arabic, it means "to develop". With the core idea set into the name itself, Potential and HSBC never forgot what they wanted to achieve.

An uneasy global economy, coupled with increasing climate anxiety, painted an unpleasant picture for future generations. Through Tatawwar, they wanted to equip their target audience with skills beyond just those necessary for getting a job. As they noted in their entry form, the core learning objective was to help 5000 students per cohort master various useful skills, such as:

▪️ Business: Problem solving, delivering presentations/pitches, business planning and price modelling
▪️ Practical: App and hardware development
▪️ Sustainability: Building awareness around SDGs, centring on climate action, water scarcity and health and wellbeing issues.

So, now it was time to put the plan into motion. First, they needed to reach their audience. The COVID-19 pandemic made this task very complicated indeed. They chose to start a digital campaign, hoping to reach 5000 children aged 15-18 across the MENA region.

Starting with social media, they advertised to thousands of young potential applicants, granting them bite-sized learning modules based around core employment skills combined with with SDG (Sustainable Development Goals) awareness. Their aim was to motivate them to register.

Once registered, the students would enter the world of possibilities that Tatawwar provides:

▪️ Self-directed learning modules via their unique "empowerment" platform. This included gamified courses and tools to help them understand Tatawwar better, plus voluntary resources for those looking to enhance their learning experience.
▪️ Webinars from keynote speakers from various businesses.
▪️ In-person coaching and development, including classroom-based learning resources presented by participating teachers.
▪️ In-person innovation workshops, in partnership with FabLabs, where participants can learn practical development skills and begin building prototype innovations, focused on sustainability.
▪️ The winners were given the once-in-a-lifetime chance to showcase their innovative ideas at a digital EXPO.

Finalists from each cohort will have their innovations turned into tangible products.

With HSBC as their core sponsor, Potential's team of around 30 experts designed the programme content and promotional material to give young learners a taste of Tatawwar. Volunteers from participating communities and local businesses also played a significant role in facilitating practical activities. People from HSBC and representatives of other leading compaines offered their time and expertise as guest speakers, mentors and judges.

Finally, Potential's aim was to make Tatawwar's significance evergreen. Their vision went further than just the current generation, so they decided to tackle other significant challenges in the region as well. By using the UN Sustainable Development Goals as a springboard, they started focusing on clean water and sanitation and incorporated climate action, as well as health and wellbeing actions.

Tatawwar is more than a learning programme - it's an empowerment programme.

For many of its participants, this programme helped them take their first steps towards a sustainable future. It brought together students, schools, parents and the business community to help innovate for a healthier world. Next to significant business skills, the participants also garnered a deeper understanding of sustainability commitments.

Out of 20 incredible 2021 finalists, three talented individuals will have their innovations developed into working products. The achievements of the project at the time of submission were massive:

▪️ 5,051 students enrolled, many coming from underprivileged regions.
▪️ Their videos were viewed over 9 million times with 26,000+ hours of blended learning accrued
▪️ 245 hardware and software prototypes - with the SDGs in mind - were developed and pitched across ten FabLabs, all following strict social rules imposed by the pandemic
▪️ More than 1800 schools participated and 70+ teachers were trained to roll the program out to their classes
▪️ More than 300 volunteers took part, including 45 judges
▪️ Over 91 million impressions were made across various media outlets
▪️ A 38% improvement in learning throughout the programme
▪️ 152% uplift in awareness of SDGs

Positive feedback has been incredible, with 94% of surveyed participants saying they'd recommend Tatawwar to others!

Our independent judging panel was highly impressed by Tatawwar, making Potential.com & HCBS the Gold Winners in our Best Community Development at our GSA '21. We wanted to catch up with them, so we contacted Daria from Potential and she agreed to inform us on where Potential, HSBC and the project are now!

What prompted you to do Tatawwar? How is the project going now?

In the next 20 years 300 million jobs need to be created across the Middle East and North Africa according to the World Bank where 60% of the population is under 25. To compound the challenge, the region is one of the most affected globally regarding the climate change and water scarcity in particular. Young people need the skills to not just gain employment, but to actively create opportunities within their communities to generate sustainable income. There are also wider social, community and global challenges to tackle.

We developed and designed Tatawwar - which runs on the Potential.com empowerment platform and is funded by HSBC - for 15-18-year-olds from Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar or the United Arab Emirates. Using a blended approach, to empower the youth we help them to take the challenges and turn them into innovation opportunities. Tatawwar is the first step into a sustainable future for participants, building the skills needed for further education and employment, while promoting understanding of the UN Sustainability Goals and their impact on communities.

Over the past 4 years, the program's video-based learning content reached over 120,000 youth on the various social media channels and the main website. We had over 15,500 applicants from 3,000 schools across 7 countries in the MENA region. More than 30,000 students watched the online webinars and 900 took part in the semifinal workshops in various Fabrication Labs in their cities. Having an online and mobile-first strategy, helps Tatawwar reach remote regions and makes it accessible to all the students. And the programme does not stop there, several of the Tatawwar previous winners have progressed with their projects and became social entrepreneurs.

Why did you decide to apply for the Gulf Sustainability Awards?

Given the positive feedback from the stakeholders and impact that Tatawwar has had on the communities across MENA, we decided to benchmark its achievements entering several prestigious regional and international awards. Gulf Sustainability Awards recognise, reward and promote outstanding sustainability initiatives across the Middle East in different categories, so they were the perfect fit.

How would you describe your experience at our awards? Did you learn or gain something from it?

From the start, we had support from the side of the organizers. They organized a virtual introductory meeting where we could hear the experiences from previous participants and winners and also interact with the other participants. The guidelines were clear and so was the entry process, however we could always reach their consultant (Milan Nikolic) in case of any queries.

The organization of the finals and awards ceremony was professional and interesting at a luxury and hospitable venue with possibilities to network with the other participants. We got constructive feedback from the judges and applied it entering the other awards.

How's Potential.com doing now? What are your plans for the future? Will there be any new partnerships with HSBC?

Regarding Tatawwar, HSBC has agreed to be the headline sponsor for four years, until 2022, to give a chance for the programme stakeholders to customize the program to their needs. We have several government bodies, schools and other partners doing just that.

Our partnership with HSBC has been ongoing for nearly 10 years during which we identify the most pressing challenges in our communities and work together to flagship initiatives that are sustainable and which create lasting impact. Potential.com is a global EdTech social enterprise that works with individuals, governments and corporates to support key social projects focused on supporting the development of future job skills, innovation and entrepreneurship.

Governments and leading brands around the world, rely on Potential.com’s innovative empowerment platform to launch customized initiatives for their citizens and customers by helping them; startup, expand their businesses or enhance their corporate career. The use of Potential.com’s online empowerment platform makes the initiatives scalable and applicable to different contexts. The online empowerment platform allows the project to reach, onboard, and educate unlimited number of target audiences around the world as long as they have a laptop or mobile phone where they easily access, apply and learn anywhere, anytime. In addition, the empowerment platform used allows all stakeholders to come together at one place.

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