Technology-driven entrepreneurship pushes youth to think beyond limits: The Case of Tunisia’s EVOCRAFT

Arab Development Portal Team, 17 Oct 2019


Young people around the globe are powerful catalysts for positive change, committed to driving growth, achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and changing the world. Today, 16 percent of the world population are aged between 15 and 24, accounting for 1.2 billion young people in 2019, of which 73.8 million originate from the Arab region.[1] Therefore, empowering youth in the Arab states to become drivers of change and unlocking their potential is central to establishing regional collaboration and promoting more inclusive and stable societies. However, more often than not, youth are frequently associated with crisis and their vulnerability to risks – be it risk to unemployment, poverty, inequality and indecent work or lack education, which are the key dimensions of exclusion.[2] The Arab region is one of the most youthful regions in the world, with almost 60 percent of the population below the age of 30.[1] However, today’s youth face tremendous obstacles in their personal development, which results in them suffering from economic, political and social exclusion. For instance, youth unemployment in the Arab region is at 26 percent, exceeding twice the global average of 13 percent.[3] While the continued challenges faced by youth are of a global nature, young people insist on making a difference and fight to overcome the existing barriers. Nonetheless, change is largely contingent on prioritizing youth participation and granting them the opportunity to address development challenges.

 

Youth are a vast source of ideas and solutions and have boundless aspirations that need to be valued and supported. For their potential not to go unnoticed, a space has been provided to youth in the Arab States by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) through the Arab Development Portal’s (ADP) initiative: Visualize 2030.  This initiative calls upon youth in the Arab region to use official statistics with the aim of visualizing a data-driven story that highlights their concerns, hopes or ambitions regarding a development topic within the framework of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The UNDP/ADP initiative believes in youth potential and the capacity they have to shape the social and economic future of their countries, aiming to help people see a sustainable future through the usage of data.[4]



While Arab youth suffer from many bottlenecks, this did not stop Visualizers from crafting impressive visual and audio data products throughout four intense days (and nights) of work, and this did not stop Evocraft team –2017 Visualize 2030 alumni— from taking their innovative idea forward, trying to make a change in their communities and beyond.


Evocraft is a technological startup based in Tunisia and founded by three active youth, Haitham Dabbabi, Imen Hajji and Ali Zahi. Evocraft aims to advance youth familiarity of scientific knowledge and technology. From assembling and disassembling electronics, a hobby picked up during childhood, co-founder of Evocraft and 2017 Visualize 2030 alumni, Haitham Dabbabi was great at pulling the pieces of electronic devices apart, but incompetent at gathering them back together. This energy inspired Dabbabi to create something of value for children after having been introduced to robotics and STEAM education for young children. This is when Evokit came to being, a set of mechanical and electronic parts which enables children to assemble, program and bring the robotic platform to life. This allows children to make mistakes and learn through trial and error, which helps create a knowledge base that is consistent with real life application, along with encouraging self-exploration via non-traditional means of learning.[5]


Evocraft’s motto, Think Beyond Limits, is revealed through Evokit’s product identity, which enriches the user’s learning experience through a manual that serves as a guide and a mobile application that controls the robotic platform once built. This motto was also reflected during Visualize 2030, where the team was encouraged to make use of national official statistics and address the challenges and development priorities they deem important in their region through enhancing their analytical, technical and innovative capacity.


Consistent with Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), quality education,[6] and inspired by guiding student dialogue, critical thinking and inquiry, Evocraft aims to integrate the learn through practice model into the product, targeting children above the age of 8. Digital transformation and data literacy are becoming a necessary means for survival in the face of the fourth industrial revolution. As the educational sector is becoming more competitive, the Tunisian entrepreneurs felt the need to address the vitality of embracing technology in primary schools and scientific organizations during Visualize 2030 camp to visualize a data driven story.
 

Across the Arab world, youth are devising out-of-the-box ideas to tackle the Fourth Industrial Revolution and global and regional issues through the use of technology. The ambitious team Evocraft represent an energy that strives to use innovation to build resilient communities. For them, what qualifies for good education standards is empowering children and youth to understand and value the importance of big data, digital literacy and acquiring tech skills against the rapid evolution of digital transformation.
 

Every year, Visualize 2030 addresses a development theme within the framework of the 2030 Agenda which helps youth think more creatively and answer vital questions on the importance of data revolution and how it will change the status-quo. The 2019 edition of Visualize 2030 will address inequalities in the Arab region, directly covered by Goal 10: Reduced Inequalities, but also cross-cutting other SDGs, and how big data can be used to tackle inequalities and promote strong and inclusive growth.
 

Visualize 2030 is one of many youth-led programs that empower and encourage youth to maximize their full potential and contribute to the success of the 2030 Agenda.[4] That being said, it is essential for youth to be at the center, engaged and involved in their communities, collecting, using and transforming data to inform their future and transform the world into a better place.[7]

 

 

Sources:

[1] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). 2019. World Population Prospects. [ONLINE] Available at: https://population.un.org/wpp/ [Accessed 17 June 2019].
[2] United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA). 2018. 2018 Report on the World Social Situation. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.un.org/development/desa/dspd/report-on-the-world-social-situation-rwss-social-policy-and-development-division/2018-2.html [Accessed 17 June 2019].         
[3] ILOSTAT. 2019. International Labour Organization. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.ilo.org/global/lang--en/index.htm [Accessed 17 June 2019].
[4] Arab Development Portal. 2019. The Visualize 2030 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.arabdevelopmentportal.com/viz2030/2018 [Accessed 3 May 2019].
[5] YouTube. 2018. Evocraft – Startup Istanbul Finals 2018. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yGlU0s6yroQ [Accessed 3 May 2019].
[6] Sustainable Development Goals Fund (SDGF). 2019. Goals 4: Quality Education. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.sdgfund.org/goal-4-quality-education [Accessed 2 May 2019].
[7] United Nations Chronicle. 2018. Youth lead the way to a more connected and sustainable world. [ONLINE] Available at: https://unchronicle.un.org/article/youth-lead-way-more-connected-and-sustainable-world [Accessed 20 May 2019].


 
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