Employees of the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development participated in an Abu Dhabi-based workshop run by Ashoka to learn how to design and run social projects that create sustainable solutions to pressing social needs.
During the workshop, employees discussed the concept of social enterprises, what makes them successful, and how to grow and sustain one. They learned the business skills to create, budget for, and measure the impact of social entrepreneurship programs.
“The foundation is adopting the social enterprise model as part of its new strategy to create long term sustainable programmes that address youth related challenges,” said H.E. Khuloud Al Nowais, Chief Sustainability Officer at Emirates Foundation for Youth Development. “This training is instrumental to upgrading the local talents and skill set of the organization who is now adopting a business model that will allow them to achieve greater more measurable impact.”
What she means is that the foundation will be moving from a previous grant giving strategy to one that surrounds venture philanthropy – a business results-oriented approach that uses the techniques from venture capital finance to meet philanthropic goals, and recognizes that there are no quick fixes to create tangible, developmental results.
“Instead of giving money on a short-term reactive basis it looks at investing in programs and initiatives that earn social returns. This increases the measurable impact and opens the way for foundations like ours to play an even greater role in advancing the nation’s socio-economic progress.”
The foundation’s aim is to go beyond merely providing finance. It will form relationships with partners to test new ideas, scale them up, and spin them off once they achieve self-sustainability.
“I’m very excited about this initial step of collaboration between Ashoka Arab World and the Emirates Foundation. Social entrepreneurship is vital for fostering innovation and sustainable growth within the region,” says Iman Bibars, Regional Director and Vice President at Ashoka Global.
“Furthermore, we are confident that the United Arab Emirates is a fertile land of innovation and entrepreneurship. Our aim is to uncover its great potential and enable local ideas to be known worldwide. We do believe that now is the right time for working on increasing the scale and the impact of social entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates, and supporting top-notch local innovation and solutions.”
The Emirates Foundation was launched in April 2005 as an initiative from His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. It is chaired by HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
In 2012, the Emirates Foundation was re-launched under the name “Emirates Foundation for Youth Development” as an integrated national initiative that seeks to invest in UAE youth. The new strategy adopts venture philanthropy which aims to impact the lives of UAE youth positively and permanently through measurable projects. The Foundation is funded through contributions from the Abu Dhabi government and private sector companies channeled to support its endowment fund.
Photo from Emirates Foundation for Youth Development.