As the year draws to a closure, Pakistan’s entrepreneurial ecosystem rides a high wave. SkillsFirst, a social enterprise with the aim to empower the young through tech and digital skills, has been the wave generator. In collaboration with University of Delaware’s Horn Entrepreneurship on the 2018 Diamond Challenge, SkillsFirst is bringing to Pakistan an entrepreneurship competition for high school students (14-18 years old).
The competition, a part of activities marking Global Entrepreneurship Week, offers a net reward of $100,000 in cash as well as awards to the students. With the significance the rewards have towards supporting their entrepreneurial endeavors and in pursuing higher education, it is indeed a priceless opportunity – both in terms of experience, and benefits. In addition to the overall package, as part of the local pitching competition, the winning team will be awarded $1,000 prize money in acknowledgement of their work.
The deadline set for the students to apply for the competition is January 5, 2018. The application of participation in the 2018 Diamond Challenge could be submitted at: http://skillsfirst.org/diamond-challenge/
This isn’t the first time Diamond Challenge has been offered to high school students in Pakistan. It is the second year in a row that the Horn Entrepreneurship Program’s Diamond Challenge has come to Pakistan. SkillsFirst is offering this global challenge on social innovation with support from the National Incubation Center in Islamabad. NIC, Islamabad will also be holding the final pitching session of the Diamond Challenge, scheduled to take place on February 9, 2018.
In her statement, Rachel Strauss, Horn Entrepreneurship’s Youth Programs Coordinator appreciated the groundwork laid by SkillsFirst in building and promoting a culture of social innovation. She said:
“We are elated to welcome SkillsFirst to the Diamond Challenge Team as they establish the Diamond Challenge Pakistan for the 2018 competition season. SkillsFirst is truly a pioneer in expanding entrepreneurship education around the globe, and we cannot wait to see the hundreds of lives that will be positively impacted and changed for the better as a result of enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Islamabad.”
SkillsFirst, a project of DEMO, offers a novel concept. The social enterprise furthers DEMO’s agenda of ‘Digital For Everyone’. DEMO nurtures ideas in the digital economy by solving problems through technology. Working in the local environment, DEMO has introduced and supported ideas ranging from creating youth-centric digital skills programs to platforms for open innovation, from startup challenges to design thinking workshops, from adaptive leadership trainings to digital transformation experiences.
Be it consultancy or trainings, or services and research, DEMO is the agent of change in all impact driven verticals such as innovation, entrepreneurship, skills development, technology and communications.
The SkillsFirst enterprise revolves around the premise to empower people with a mindset at the intersection of digital thinking, emotional intelligence and social consciousness.
With the Diamond Challenge competition, SkillsFirst brings its A game to establish an ecosystem for the teenagers to learn the ropes that will enable them develop ideas of their own that could one day become sustainable ventures.
The founder of SkillsFirst and CEO of DEMO, Saad Hamid couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about the whole idea. He expressed:
“SkillsFirst is committed to helping young people learn digital skills, creativity, leadership and entrepreneurial innovation and our partnership with Diamond Challenge helps us achieve that impact for the local community.”
The Diamond Challenge, part of the Paul & Linda McConnell Youth Entrepreneurship Initiative, has reached more than 3500 students from 155 schools and 35 countries worldwide since its foundation in 2012. Its purpose is to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurial thinkers. The competition has recently been ranked one of the top 29 best international business plan competitions by Alpha Gamma, a business portal for millennials.