Through its partnership with the King Abdullah II Fund for Development, the International Youth Foundation (IYF) helped lead a three-day capacity and skills building program for the second cycle of finalists of the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement (KAAYIA). The training program, held June 16 to 21 and entitled Youth Leadership, Civil Involvement and the Future of the Middle East, was co-developed by the KAAYIA team, in collaboration with Dr. James Toole and Karen Phillips from IYF, and was based on the results of a needs assessment study of the ten participants conducted prior to the training. Jordanian civil society and private sector experts served as speakers and mentors at the event, sharing their expertise and advice with Award finalists on ways to develop their leadership capacity and strategies for how to scale up their projects.

Over 200 young men and women from across the Arab world applied to the Award in March 2010. Ten final projects from Jordan, Palestine, Lebanon, Egypt, and Yemen were selected based on three selection criteria: leadership and innovation, collaboration and partnership, impact and sustainability. An Assessment Committee of experts from across the region interviewed the ten KAAYIA finalists and selected three final winners for the Award's second cycle, who will be honored in a special ceremony.

The innovative projects being carried out by the award finalists address a range of social challenges and community needs, and are designed to empower young Arab men and women to become active citizens in their communities. Among their projects are programs that promote youth volunteerism, provide micro-credit loans to disadvantaged rural women, enrich the educational opportunities for youth in rural areas with extra-curricular services, offer care and assistance to child laborers, and train youth with special needs.

The mid-June training event covered such issues as social entrepreneurship and its history in the Arab world and the importance of visionary leadership in turbulent times. It also included sessions on strategic planning and implementing social media tools for entrepreneurial projects. Participants also learned about organizational financial sustainability and business planning.  “The strategic planning session will enable me to better plan my own projects based on the tools I learned here,” said Fidaa' Abuturkey, whose organization helps generate small income-generating projects for rural women in Palestine. “Using social media tools to create an online presence in a simple yet effective manner will also help me reach out to a larger pool of beneficiaries and also attract the donor community.”

Hady Nassereddin from Nakhweh.com in Jordan added: “The training helped shed light on some of the major problems that entrepreneurs face, yet they underestimate their importance. Nakhweh's purpose is to create a platform to connect volunteers with civil society organizations. The Award introduced us to a number of creative social entrepreneurs and organizations that became part of our network—giving us access to the countries they work in."

Managed by the King Abdullah II Fund For Development in collaboration with the International Youth Foundation, the MBC Group and Alarabiya as the award's media partners, the award promotes and supports young Arab leaders by enhancing innovation and entrepreneurship as well as encouraging local community development.

For more information on the award please visit www.kaayia.org.