Innovate Education: Encouraging Young Socialpreneurs

Nadine Kahaleh , Apr 12 2017

Social entrepreneurship received a whole lot of attention throughout the past weekend; Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s (FNF) launched its new initiative Innovate Education – a 3-day hackathon employing technology to make education accessible to Syrian teenagers.

The initiative was encircled by a remarkable support from the Lebanese ecosystem; among its partners and sponsors, we mention: Speed, Berytech, AltCity, Wamda, Unicef – with more names on the list!

Held at Beirut Digital District, the competition was launched on the 6th of April, and concluded on the 8th. Its contestants – university students - were required to develop an innovative solution whose ultimate objective is to address predefined challenges related to educating the Syrian teenagers in Lebanon.

Here’s more about what went on!

The Addressed Challenges
Launching the competition, Andre Abi Awad, founder of Entrepreneurgy explained to the participants the main challenges to which they were requested to tailor the suitable fixes -- vocational training, transportation, and quality of education. Abi Awad also clarified that participants have the liberty to decide on tackling another obstacle that obstructs Syrian teenagers’ access to education.

Opening the competition

Founder of Entrepreneurgy, Andre Abi Awad, launching Innovate Education's competition. (Source: Twitter) 

The 3-day Process
Assembled in teams, the participants were given around 2 days to mold their idea; they were procured with the help of savvy coaches, who offered their guidance and professional help. In addition to the aforementioned, the coaches’ mission was also to assist the teams in refining their pitches.

On that note, a brief pitch training lead by Abi Awad was given to the participants; it focused on transforming an idea to a clear business vision, and on developing an elevator pitch that’s faithful to the vision.   

Moreover, Innovate Education’s event comprised a final pitch during which competitors presented their finalized idea to a panel of judges, explained its functionality, and highlighted its revenue sources.

The teams are up and about - Innovate Education

The teams of Innovate Education's Hackathon at work. (Source: FNF Facebook) 

The Judges of Innovate Education

The judges of Innovate Education's competition. (Source: FNF Facebook)

The Winning Teams
The event ended with a closing ceremony during which Sofia Koller, Project Coordinator of FNF for Innovate Education, declared the two winning teams – zibaLAB for the Challenge Track, and Artilla for the Boost Track.

As per their awards, zibaLAB will benefit from a 3-month coaching program and co-working space; its startup will be boosted with smart ESA’s Advanced Program for Entrepreneurship. On the other hand, Artilla will receive 2 coaching sessions, one month of co-working space, and will join Berytech’s community to apply for its Global Social Venture in later stages.

Both winning teams will be shortlisted for interviews into Elevate Impact Accelerator -- a partnership between UNICEF and AltCity.

Here’s a brief word on the winning teams and their idea.

zibaLAB – Educational Camp on Recycling
Team members: Samah Karaki (Lebanon), Youssef Hamieh (Lebanon), Elias Kiwan (Lebanon), Maxim Hermez (Syria), and Nisrine Aljidi (Syria).  

The camp’s mission is to teach teenagers the how-tos of recycling waste, and build awareness around the processes of recycling and composting. Teenagers will also be required to generate videos featuring step-by-step tutorials on creating viable products out of waste. The solution’s source of income is from selling compost and artistic pieces crafted from waste.


Winning Team 2 - ZibaLab, Innovedu

Winners of the Challenge Track - zibaLAB. (Source: FNF Facebook) 

Artilla – Video Tutorials for Skills Building
Team members: Yaman Sadeq (Syria), Rabee Karzoun (Syria), and Dania Ghanayem (Palestinian-Syrian).

The team’s solution leverages digital media tools; its idea revolves around a series of short educational videos touching on a wide spectrum of skills – graphic design, stop-motion videos, animation, visual arts, etc. The solution’s revenues are earned through paid subscriptions to access further – in-depth- video content.

Winning Team 1 - Artilla, Innovedu

Winners of the Boost Track - Artilla. (Source: FNF Facebook) 

The Socialpreneur Talk
The event also included three talks on social entrepreneurship, conducted by Layal Jebran, CEO of Moubarmij, Samer Sfeir, Founder of Mommy Made Lebanon, and Mohammad El Omari of Limitless Lab.

Moubarmij shared her story in the world of social entrepreneurship; she highlighted the difficulties that a socialpreneur can only overcome by dedication and perseverance, “if you’re not passionate about your business idea, don’t do it […] there will be a lot of bumps on the road, at the end of which success awaits.” She also explained that “"a social enterprise shouldn't focus on making profit, instead it should focus its efforts on impact."

Sfeir’s talk was entitled “Social Entrepreneurs: Plan to Scale, or Plan to Fail”; he insisted on the importance of developing a viable business idea, in order to push forward the social impact it is supposed to achieve. 

As per El Omari's talk, it underscored the importance of technology in transforming the education sector; he also spoke of a recenlty launched app called Trikapp -- a smart application that can identify images and objects, and bring them to life through augmented reality technology. 


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