MENA Innovates: Innovating Sustainable Impact Across the MENA Region
While MENA’s youth literacy rates increase, the quality of education remains outdated and does not prepare youth with the skills needed to compete for in demand jobs in the digital world and beyond. According to UNICEF, “many of those who receive education, often find themselves unequipped with the skills sought after in the labour market, and unable to engage in meaningful and dignified work.” As such, at 26%, MENA’s youth face some of the highest unemployment rates on a global scale.
The employment sector remains disconnected from the needs of youth and operating in isolation from the growing sustainability challenges further marginalizing the most vulnerable. UNICEF also reports, “those in the region who do make it into the labour market are often ill-equipped, with employers reporting a widespread shortage of crucial life skills such as gain creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving and communication.”
To address this, MENACatalyst’s latest phase of MENA Innovates program virtually targets young innovators across the MENA region, which has since reached over 120 students across the region. MENA Innovates adopts a multiple-disciplinary approach that combines digital skills, problem-solving, with innovation and entrepreneurship learning. This program is one of the few that is working to cultivate a new generation of innovators that are not only in tune with the most in-demand global opportunities, but capable of developing sustainable and collaborative solutions that address the many social, economic, environmental and humanitarian challenges facing the regions youth.
The afterschool program brings together youth between the ages of 12-16 to develop their leadership skills and work in groups to develop innovative solutions to some of the most pressing social, environmental, and humanitarian challenges affecting their society today.
Supported by our Sweden-based partners, and in partnership with UK-based Raspberry Pi Foundation’s Code Club, MENA-Innovates is an inclusive virtual program that is empowering the region’s youth with the 21st century and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) skills needed to become tomorrow’s innovators today. MENA-Innovates takes an innovative approach by combining 21st century skills development, digital development in coding, innovation and entrepreneurship, strategic thinking and creative problem solving. These skills are used to help students approach real-world problems within the scope of humanitarian, environmental, climate change, and social issues, as well as to promote their civic participation.
This approach is designed to not only give youth the background knowledge of the latest in STEAM, but our approach empowers students with the technical skills that ensure their socioeconomic inclusion and ability to pursue graduate degrees and career opportunities within the field of steam on a local, regional, and global level. In addition, to promote civic participation and community engagement, MENA-Innovates always incorporates a themed element which revolves around humanitarian and social justice causes, human rights, environmental awareness, climate change, and others. This approach allows us empower a diverse range of young learners, while helping them learn how to critically address the challenges affecting their communities using their newfound skills.
MENACatalyst is an international organization with official registrations in the United States, Sweden and Palestine. MENACatalyst (MC) is an impact-driven nonprofit with the vision of creating the conditions necessary for the marginalized to rise up and become leaders of positive social impact and effect lasting economic growth across the MENA region. In addition, we are working hard to reduce barriers and foster dynamic cross-border collaborations by enhancing the technical competencies of emerging professionals, innovators, and young changemakers to create a more equitable and resilient socioeconomic future for all across the MENA region.