Published in Nov-Dec 2016
The Telenor Youth Forum (TYF) is an annual CSR initiative run in partnership with the Nobel Peace Centre in Norway. It was established in 2013 and was then known as the Telenor Youth Summit.
The event, which will take place in Oslo from December 8 to 11 (timed to coincide with the Nobel Peace Prize awards) brings together young leaders from the 13 countries where Telenor operates (Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Denmark, Hungary, India, Malaysia, Montenegro, Myanmar, Norway, Pakistan, Serbia, Sweden and Thailand) with the objective of giving them a global platform to work on socioeconomic challenges pertinent to their countries and based on a theme. In Pakistan the initiative was promoted mainly through social media posts, digital ads, radio spots and activation drives in universities.
This year, Telenor Pakistan received over 2,000 applications from all over the country. After shortlisting the applicants, a jury was appointed by Telenor and included Areej Khan, Director, Corporate Communications and Responsibility, Telenor Pakistan; Salma Jafri, Founder, Salma Jafri Media; and Khurram Zafar, ED, LUMS Centre of Excellence. As a result of the process, Mehroze Munawar and Sajawal Waseem were selected to represent Pakistan.
Keeping in mind the scope of technology in improving quality of life and promoting peace, this year’s TYF theme was Digitisation of Peace. Based on this theme, Munawar pitched the concept of an elearning system called Amozgaar (Persian for mentor), whereby online educational content from around the world would be digitally curated and presented to students residing in remote or underprivileged areas. To eliminate language barriers, the content would be translated in the local language. Waseem pitched the idea of using Maati TV, an online video site, as a platform to run a social campaign promoting gender equality at the workplace as well as advocating mindset change at the cultural level.
Both Munawar and Waseem are now set to travel to Oslo in December to meet participants from other countries, where four to five teams (comprising participants from different countries) will be formed and each team will be mentored by an experienced individual from organisations such as the UN and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee. The teams will be given a social challenge for which they will have to develop a solution. The solutions will be presented to their respective mentors at the Telenor Headquarters.
According to Khan, after “soaking in the grand experience” of interacting with some of the world’s most accomplished people, and attending the Nobel Peace Prize Concert, the journey will not end for the participants – in fact, she says “it is only the beginning.”
The participants will take their experiences back to their respective countries, stay in touch with their mentors via online channels and, if needed, have sessions with various experts in their own countries in order to further solidify their ideas and solutions. They will meet again in May 2017 in Bangkok to share their progress. The culmination of their efforts will be unveiled in the form of an exhibition in Oslo in Autumn 2017 and presented at the Nobel Peace Centre. The experience will also give them the opportunity to network with industry experts and even attract potential investors – and according to Khan, although Telenor does not invest in any idea as part of this initiative, this is not entirely out of question.
“Telenor has not invested in any of the ideas, because that is not our aim. Our expertise is technology and we are opening up such opportunities for our participants. However, if an idea is strong enough, and the individual is able to pitch it really well, then we just might invest as well.”