Posted on March 18, 2016

The second day of the EMPOWER 2016 conference, organised by Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF), successfully concluded today. The theme of the conference this year is ‘Innovation in Youth Social Entrepreneurship’. The event saw over 450 bright enthusiastic young minds participate in various entrepreneurial workshops and discussions.

The first and second day of the conference included 48 insightful workshops and two panel discussions, which were held for participants to learn about the concepts of crowdfunding, innovation in product creation, entrepreneurship, and the power of social networking, among other topics. The conference will continue tomorrow with an array of off-site visits and panel discussions which will further the knowledge of participants and enrich their experience. The winner of the ROTA Youth Challenge will be announced tomorrow.  

Commenting on the EMPOWER conference, an international participant from Indonesia, Linda Masteti, said: “It is my first time participating in EMPOWER. ROTA volunteers mentioned EMPOWER when they were visiting my school in Indonesia, and this sparked my interest in attending EMPOWER 2016 since I run a small business in my home town. In addition, I organised workshops to children about culture heritage. There is no doubt that I have learned a lot of concepts about how to be a social entrepreneur from the panels and workshops. I look forward to learning new skills that will benefit me and my community.”

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A number of exhibitors had a booth in the dedicated space during the EMPOWER 2016 conference. Hanane Hanzi, from Bedaya Center, which had a booth in the dedicated exhibition space, said: “The theme for EMPOWER 2016, Innovation in Youth Social Entrepreneurship reflects Bedaya’s mission to provide Qatari youth with career development and entrepreneurship services. I am amazed by how passionate the participants are about being social entrepreneurs - by becoming social entrepreneurs they will be contributing to the development of the society and making profits at the same time. The panel discussions have been fantastic with inspirational speakers such as Reem Al Suwaidi, General Manager of Bedaya Center sharing her experience as an entrepreneur. During the Introduction to and Planning to Start a Social Startup by Salma Baghdadi workshop I learned the 13 stages of setting up a business and to achieve my goals. I believe that EMPOWER 2016 plays an important role in educating and empowering youth.”

Tariq Al-Olaimy delivered a workshop titled “Innovation Lessons from the Greatest Social Enterprise in the World” discussing how nature is the greatest social enterprise in the world. The workshop enlightened participants to the practice of Biomimicry, the conscious emulation of nature’s genius in order to solve human challenges.

Tariq Al-Olaimy said: “It is the first time I am participating in EMPOWER but it's not the first time I have interacted with ROTA. It's wonderful to see how they have brought everything together and creatively formed new platforms to further their impact. The topic I talked about was "Wisdom of Nature" and how nature is actually an ultimate social entrepreneur, that God has created this world and all the innovations in it and as human beings we can learn from nature to create new innovations in social entrepreneurship. What's unique in this year's EMPOWER is that, even from the opening speakers there was an understanding that there is a huge shift in the region, the way we need to move away from old models and embrace a new reality. it's fantastic to see so many young people and that this is youth driven conference, facilitated by youth and organised by youth. I have been so inspired by all the ideas that came from young Qatari entrepreneurs in particular, and the movement towards social entrepreneurship. It makes me very hopeful for the future.”

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Top Shabab

The Top Shabab, one of ROTA Youth Service Clubs, held an exhibition booth at EMPOWER 2016 which is made entirely out of recycled materials. The initiative aims to raise general awareness of the issues related to responsible consumption and ways to make smart purchases when shopping to decrease waste. Amal Mohammadi, President of Top Shabab organisation said, “This is the seventh year Top Shabab is exhibiting at EMPOWER. We are honoured to be a part of ROTA and are grateful for all the support and guidance they have given us over the years.” 

“Our new project, Green Use Campaign, was launched earlier this year and aims to spread awareness about the danger of plastic bottles and plastic waste in general. Right now we're in the process of planning the plastic festival, to be held in mid-April where we will display sculptures made 100% of plastic. We like to stay positive, and as for EMPOWER, we are participating in the ROTA Youth Challenge where will present our Green Use Campaign and are hoping to win,” added Mohammadi.