E3 YouthSpark Hackathon Launch: Introduction to entrepreneurship for rural youth

boy and women discussing

In April 2017, Tag International Development launched a pilot project – E3: Education, Employment, Entrepreneurship – aimed at unlocking the employability prospects for underserved rural youth in Southern Shan State. The project proposed a combined Train of Training ﴾TOT﴿ implementation model focused on selection and training of rural Youth Ambassador Tech Leaders and Female Youth Leaders in target villages integrating ICT, leadership, and basic coding alongside existing business skills and entrepreneurship training.

The project has provided an exciting foundation for a scalable approach towards identifying and developing Microsoft Youth Ambassadors based in carefully selected computer and technological rural universities that will be empowered to create innovative solutions to social challenges through integrated solutions. The overall aim of the expanded project in 2018 is to stimulate innovative thinking to address Myanmar’s social challenges, through providing rural youth customized entrepreneurship, business and leadership training and development, offered via workshops, expert mentorship and a dedicated online learning management system.

On August 11 an event was held in Taunggyi, Southern Shan among 121 students from the Technological University, Arts and Science University and Computer University as well as rural youth. The aim was to introduce youth in rural areas to entrepreneurship knowledge, resources and opportunities through a Panel and Workshop. The panel: Education x Entrepreneurship x Innovation in Rural Myanmar included young entrepreneurial leaders from Yangon and Taunggyi, thus providing highly relevant and interesting discussion.

“A weekend well spent in my hometown, Taunggyi. It was great to be part of a panel discussion and run a workshop on ‘How to start a tech-startup’. To our surprise, the youths from different universities in Taunggyi were exceptional and they came up with 15 awesome pitches, which put us in an extreme condition to select 5 so we selected 8 teams instead to go through a 2 months online training with Tag Myanmar. It’s proven that we need more activities like these in other areas of the country.”
– Htun Khaing Lin, Tech Community Manager – Phandeeyar

Afternoon workshops led by experts from Phandeeyar, Myanmar’s first innovation lab, and Myanmar Youth Empowerment Opportunities (MYEO) guided self-organized groups through the stages of starting a tech startup and design thinking. The groups pitched their mini business solutions at the end for a chance to participate in the testing of a new digital Hackathon training platform designed to provide entrepreneurship training for rural youth. Eight groups were selected and will be guided through a 2-month process of developing innovative business ideas. Tag International and Microsoft Philanthropies have developed a customized digital platform that is accessible to the public and provides valuable localized educational content and resources, with key strategic support from MYEO, a local organization dedicated to enabling an environment for promising youth to learn skills relevant to a new era, including entrepreneurship and digital literacy.

“It was really contagious and encouraging to see such enthusiasm and eagerness to learn about innovation and entrepreneurship from Taunggyi Youth. With inclusive youth empowerment in our heart, MYEO is very excited to be part of creating this scalable solution of an online entrepreneurship program for youths with our expertise in digital literacy and youth.”
– Htet Thiri Shwe, Founder & Director – MYEO

A ‘Hackathon’ will be run through a special learning management platform on the website and tested among the groups, whom will be guided through the stages of building a mini business and practicing a pitch. A culminating event will be held later this year in partnership with Microsoft Philanthropies, MYEO and Phandeeyar where the groups will pitch their ideas to a panel of judges for the chance to win $1,000, donated by the Embassy of Israel, and access to additional opportunities.

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