Canon Middle East looks to unleash the UAE’s creative community
AKTASHIF aims to sharpen the focus in young people and provide them with incubator support to help develop skillsets and launch a career that most resonates with them
It is very important for content creators in the region to have a platform for their creative ideas simply because knowledge-sharing and ongoing support can be key differentiators for young people looking to launch a successful idea or business, experts have said.
Speaking to Khaleej Times, Mai Youssef, director of Corporate Communications and Marketing Services at Canon Middle East, Turkey, and Central & North Africa, highlighted how this need led Canon Middle East to create a youth empowerment programme called ‘AKTASHIF’ which aims to discover and develop the next generation of aspiring creatives based in the Middle East.
Now in its second season, the programme is a unique platform for aspiring photographers, videographers, and print creatives to discover their artistic voice. “Working together helps ignite the creative spark and allows budding entrepreneurs to unlock their passions, while getting a better understanding of the direction they want to take with their careers,” Youssef said.
She also looked back on the success of the first season, which proved to be a testament to the vibrant and creative youth community in the UAE and the region. “Even amidst the pandemic, the response we received and the creative ideas that were put forth by the participants, only made us believe further that there is a lot the youth have to offer. It is only a matter of giving them the right tools and a platform that can support them in building their dream careers.”
She explained that Canon’s support for entrepreneurship and incubation extends beyond countries and timelines. “It is written in our DNA, and we see AKTASHIF as an integral piece in addressing the global 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, specifically the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4, which stipulates the importance of quality education and learning opportunities for all. At Canon, we are continuously launching programs to help young people strengthen their creative skills.”
According to reports, the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic saw a sharp increase in the rise of startups. In report published by the Dubai Future Foundation, the startup and SME sectors combined contribute up to 40 per cent to GDP and up to 50 per cent to employment in the Mena region. Research has also shown that most youth are looking to change careers every three years and 60 per cent are not truly engaged in their current jobs and would consider different careers. AKTASHIF aims to sharpen the focus in young people and provide them with incubator support to help develop skillsets and launch a career that most resonates with them.
“We have designed AKTASHIF as a platform to give youth creatives in the region a way to not only explore their creative passions but build it into a viable career option. Creative careers are rewarding, and working for yourself is liberating; however, taking those first steps and setting up your own business can be difficult if you don’t know where to start,” Youssef explained.
She also highlighted how it was important for Canon to target female entrepreneurs in the region with the second edition of the event. “All the Canon initiatives have always been designed on the core value of providing young creatives a platform that encourages their creative passion and help them build a career in a field they are passionate about. Female entrepreneurs are shattering the glass ceiling across industries, and through all the initiatives at Canon we aim to provide them a level playing field and prove their potential.”
“Observing the immense potential displayed by our female participants last season, with AKTASHIF 2.0 we wanted to go an extra mile and create an opportunity for female entrepreneurs that would encourage them,” she noted. “The Female Entrepreneurship Award this season is an exclusive category we have introduced to push them forward to showcase their unique creativity through their submissions. The winner will receive business incubator support, website and hosting packages, and Canon products worth Dh10,000.”
AKTASHIF 2.0 is open to participants aged between 14 and 25 who currently reside in the region. Participants will be guided through the four modules to build and submit their business idea by January 31, 2022. Upon completion and successful submission of all the modules, participants will stand a chance to win a host of prizes across multiple categories. The Grand Winner of the programme will be entitled to win Dh15,000 cash prize and Dh10,000 worth of Canon products. The top 30 participants will be selected at the end of the second module, of which 10 will get a chance to win internships with Canon’s brand partners, while 20 will receive the M50 Canon cameras. In addition, winners will also receive business incubator support, website and hosting packages, along with the best ideas being promoted across Canon’s social media platforms.
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