A willing shoulder often bears more responsibility than one can imagine! Meet Amira Mahmood, Head of Programs at the Youth Pioneer Society, who exemplifies this through her astounding professional experience and dedicated work not only as a Projects Management Expert but also as a big believer in Bahrain’s youth.
Tell us about yourself: where you were born and raised, your educational and professional background, etc.
My name is Amira Mahmood, I was born and raised in Bahrain. I hold a bachelor’s degree in architectural engineering from UOB and an executive MBA from the University of Strathclyde. I am a certified project management professional, USA and value engineering specialist. I was recently selected as Mosaic’s in-country ambassador for Bahrain. I have worked during the past ten years in the field of real estate management, construction and facility management.
Beside my daytime job, I am a volunteer board member and head of programs at Youth Pioneer Society.
Were you interested in the cause for youth right from the beginning?
I have been working through different phases of my life on educating myself and building my personality and career till I met my friend Saud Albuainain who are truly passionate about youth and civil works. Since 2009, he tried to engage me several times in that field but I was not ready. In February 2013 he invited me to attend an introductory session about YPS and since then, I started my Roller coaster journey with them!
Tell us something about the Youth Pioneer Society(YPS)
YPS is a non-profit organization founded by a group of youth who met on Twitter with the aim of improving the quality of life for all Bahraini youth. It was established in August 2012 as the first civil society in Bahrain concerned with youth professional development. We aim to increase knowledge and awareness of issues affecting youth, increase opportunities for youth and to promote trust and co-operation between youth of different backgrounds through dedicated programs in HR development, entrepreneurship, academic advising, and environment’s protection. So far, more than 4000 young Bahraini benefited from our different programs. The chairman is one of the founders; Bashar Fakhro.
What major projects have been undertaken by the Society so far ?
During the past 3 years, the society has succeeded in creating positive change within the Bahraini community through different programs and initiatives. I am proud to say that we have formed the first youth and parliamentarians’ open forum in 2013. Based on the outcomes of that forum, we founded the young parliamentarians program that has completed so far two cycles. Also, we have organized the first youth economic forum in 2014 and based on the forum’s recommendations, we have founded the entrepreneurship development program; Chance. Moreover, we have established Ajyal program, Ambition program, The happiness within program and organized many other events such as the first Gathering for Bahraini Non-Governmental Organizations in 2014 and the Youth Forum for Volunteer Work in 2015.
Any special rewards/recognitions achieved by the Society?
We have been rewarded from Ministry of Youth & Sports Affairs as an active youth society. Also, we received the e-Government Excellence Award for NGOs, Best Application for Smart Devices, and achieved the Third place at HH Shaikh Isa Bin Ali Al-Khalifa Award for Volunteer Work for Ambition program. Moreover, Chance program received a grant from Ministry of Social Development.
Tell us about Chance program.
Chance program which I’m currently managing for the second year is a 4 months training program THAT aims to develop the entrepreneurship skills among ambitious young Bahrainis, and to provide them with an opportunity to get training by a group of experts and young entrepreneurs, and to benefit from their experience. The team behind the program are volunteers who believe in encouraging and supporting Bahraini youth to reach their goals. The group consists of Ali Alsabbagh, Shahad Alzaki, Aalaa Aljar, Talal Buhazaa, Hamza Taleb, Walaa Almalki and Mohamed Alkooheji.
What has been the obstacles that you have faced since the inception of the Chance program and how have you overcome them?
The main obstacle is always getting the required funds to run any program. Without the donations and the support of our partners the valuable work we do in the community would not be possible. Also, the coordination between the different stakeholders is a real challenge. We have around 50 stakeholders varied between entrepreneurs, experts from the private and public sector in Bahrain who participated as speakers and trainers on a volunteer basis. That proofs the essence of the Bahraini people in voluntary work.
What according to you are the major challenges aspiring entrepreneurs face in Bahrain?
In fact the entrepreneurship environment in Bahrain looks to be more accessible today than it was a decade ago. There are a lot of support schemes and mentorship programs that are available for entrepreneurs, from MOIC, Tamkeen, BDB, Zain and others. However, the direction now should be focused on establishing a complete entrepreneurial ecosystem, which help the Bahraini entrepreneur to grow from the local incubation and acceleration system to the international competition.
What qualities does an entrepreneur require to be successful?
I believe that being persistent but flexible, creative and committed to the vision are the keys to success.
What is your message to the budding entrepreneurs of Bahrain?
With all the interconnected political, social and economic challenges that face our nation currently, always think positively, the power of positive thoughts is tremendous, never stop learning and enjoy the journey.