Yalla! Let's Talk.

Mays Alwash

Canada
Promotional URL: http://www.yallaletstalk.com/

Provide a summary of the concept, how it works/could work, and why it could be successful

This is why Yalla! Let’s Talk. was born. We are an educational platform where Arab youth can connect with each other in inclusive spaces to have meaningful conversations on stigmatized issues and we provide content by real people for real people to help them navigate through personal and professional issues. It’s much needed for communities that are struggling to form identities in disasporatic countries, and need space and tools catered to them to help them navigate through social issues.

Explain briefly the specific problem(s) you are trying to solve, and how your solution impacts or will impact the region

Providing an avenue, a channel for Arab youth to learn about social issues from an educational perspective. We have trained facilitators expert in topics like mental health, Arab identity crisis, abusive relationships, LGBTQ issues, who are there to steer the conversation and become an educational resource for Arab youth. We are trying to instil inclusivity and open-mindedness. We are developing emotionally intelligent, inclusive and empowered individuals.

Geographical Scope: where is the innovation currently operating/where would it first be applied and where would it scale?

The events and media operations are currently in Toronto, Canada. As of September of this year, we are expanding to San Francisco and Montreal, with our monthly coffee shop discussions taking place in these cities, and have recently partnered up with researchers from Boston University. The events have been incredibly successful and well received by the Arab youth in Toronto, with 50 tickets events being sold out within two minutes of the tickets going live.

The beauty of this project is that it is scalable to all around the world. Similar to Tedx, we want to create a brand that allows our model to be transferred easily to youth leaders around the world that their community would benefit from such conversations.

At the same time, we are mindful that some communities and people might not have the opportunity to go to these events, and therefore we have strategically complimented our efforts with media content that will be posted on social media outlets (i.e. Youtube, Instagram) as well as a podcast.. Knowing millennials in countries like Saudi Arabia are amongst the most avid Youtube consumers, we plan to reach them through our media outreach where they can hear the conversations, and in turn, help them navigate through their own personal and professional issues that they may be facing and do not have the proper channels to address.

Please state the current status of your initiative

Active initiative

Beneficiaries: Explain who would benefit from this solution and indicate whether you would be working with a local partner or organization to implement (if so,specify)

The primary beneficiary is Arab youth, followed by their families, communities and the Arab society in general. This will nurture the development of emotionally intelligent, openminded individuals that are comfortable with their own differences what is expected from society.
The outcome of this project is to have an inclusive community, a strong network of Arabs that supports one another, and have the appropriate tools to navigate their personal and professional issues. Imagine living in a community that has still preserved our traditions and the values that make us great, and yet we are progressing to have healthy conversations on topics that would otherwise be swept under the rug in our culture. We are making having healthy conversations a habit in our culture.

Describe the scalability and innovation elements of your initiative

Yalla! Let’s Talk. is an educational platform that has a few elements of successful models that we’ve seen in the past, as well as a new model that we are bringing. Our innovation is based on application of existing platform types (i.e. Youtube, Podcasts, social media, and physical space/coffee shops) to bring stories that would otherwise go unheard and conversations that will have an impactful impact on a community.

Furthermore, in 2019, we’ve seen successful social media platforms (i.e. Facebook, Instagram), professional platforms (i.e. Linkedin), but we have yet to see a successful platform based on a cultural network of Arabs coming together. We are working day in and day out to be The Arab platform.

To break down our innovation and scalability at the moment:
Media Outlet – Youtube, Instagram, and Podcast Through our media outlet, we bring you the most authentic voices and perspectives on social issues and cultural trends in the Arab community, at the same time, we create content that provides thought-provoking discussions on stigmatized issues in our culture. Through our original and in-depth interviews of real people, we will challenge you – the global youth- to think critically and challenge various cultural and social issues. We focus
on producing different types of content through a podcast, skits, and interviews that we aim to provide youth a channel to tune in and participate in the conversations by simply listening. We are mainly developing content to address stereotypes within the arabic culture to eliminate misunderstandings and presumptions to increase the feelings of belonging and inclusion.
Yalla! Let’s Talk launch video:

Fight The Odds

The video is about three different characters that are going through different challenges: first generation obstacles, societal pressures, and anxiety. The video is intended to spark dialogue amongst millennials about topics that are often stigmatized. #Yallaletstalk***********************************************Fight YOUR odds. Everyone has a story. Ours continued when we left our homes in the Middle East and came to our new ones in Canada. Many of us struggled, and almost all of us fought through barriers. We faced issues that no one talked about; we still do. Today, we want to face the elephant in the room. Let’s address the issues that we tend to overlook in our community. Let's discuss mental health, gender equity, and first generation challenges. Let’s continue to break stereotypes and glass ceilings. Let’s fight our odds. Yalla! Let’s talk.Note: The stories are inspired from some of the actors' real lives, but it is not necessarily a representation of their actual experiences.************************************************************In partnership with Canadian Arab Institute, we are proud to start the discussion on May 5, 2018. Here's the event link: https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/yalla-lets-talk-ylt-tickets-44638058635Thank you to 3brothers shawarma & poutine for allowing us to film inside their restaurant.Music by NCM Epic Music Ender Guney and can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_nyMMvQSQo&feature=youtu.beThis video was scripted, produced, directed, filmed, and edited by Rasmi with help from the YLT team.

Posted by Yalla Let's Talk. on Wednesday, March 28, 2018

A video skit to address stereotype and presumptions:

View this post on Instagram

Ramadan Kareem to all our YLT Muslims! Which Ramadan millennial are you?? 😂 Comment below and tag your friends! ⬇️ We've teamed up with the awesome Rasmi Official (make sure to follow him ➡️ @hrasmiofficial) for our first skit collab! 🙌🏻Special shoutout to @life.with.anas + @rawanalahmadd + @hanidaj for being a part of this video! #YLT #YallaLetsTalk

A post shared by Yalla! Let’s Talk. (@yallaletstalk) on


Yalla! Let’s Talk (YLT) Cafe and Summit/Symposium:
The YLT Cafe is a space at a coffee shop were Arab youth gather to meet each other, engage in meaningful discussions with a skilled facilitator, and have fun (we end off each event with entertainment). This is all led by youth leaders (most of them are students). The scalability of YLT cafe is simple: We target university/college students to host these
events in their respective region.
YLT Symposium/Summit: This is a large annual event similar to Harvard Arab Conference and Tedx, except the focus is centered around the participants having conversations, as well as speakers on hot topics that are important for the youth (i.e. the impact of Social Media). The scalability for this type of event would follow the same format as Tedx.
The concept of Yalla! Let’s Talk is highly scalable worldwide, wherever Arab youth are present. The concept is also very translatable to other ethnic communities to tackle their own stigmatized/overlooked topics.

Please state your innovation sponsor (if applicable)

The Yalla! Let’s Talk initiative organization was self started by a group of Arab youth professionals and academics living in Toronto. The initiative is supported by the Canadian Arab Institute by providing resources and mentorship to bring the initiative to live and provide Yalla! Let’s Talk members with the network for the initiative to flourish in the
Greater Toronto Area.
Yalla! Let’s Talk was able to obtain governmental funding (TakingITGlobal Rising Youth) as well as sponsor support to support the financial aspect of the initiative’s projects.
With Yalla! Let’s Talk currently expanding to create media content as an avenue to spark conversation to destigmatize taboo topics in the Arabic culture, we have an ongoing collaboration with RasmiOfficial, a video and content creator. With just a couple of videos released so far in this collaboration, the videos have obtained thousands of views. We also have a strong relationship with the videographer and personal branding expert based off Montreal, Ameer Alba, as an advisor and continuous supporter for Yalla! Let’s
Talk.
Another community parter and strong relationship we have created is with Studio89, a local coffee shop in the Greater Toronto Area that helps us provide the right space and environment for a major event based aspect of Yalla! Let’s Talk; the YLT Cafe.

What are your key resources at this stage and what resources would you need to implement/scale?

Available: Network and resources to expand in Canada. Needed: Expert guidance in terms of understanding and controlling the scaling up to global expansion.

What are your key challenges and risks at this stage?

Challenges:
Our main challenge is allocating resources efficiently and aligning our mission in everything we are doing while adapting to what the market wants. We are currently a team of 6 individuals (full time) that are working on developing and expanding the different
segments of the initiative.
Risks: Yalla! Let’s Talk has greatly expanded over the past year since its launch. One main risk is too fast and uncalculated growth could lead to its collapse. Another risk is the physical worldwide expansion of Yalla! Let’s Talk could result in improper execution of the message by the executors at different parts of the world, depending on the hiring and training process.

What are your goals and timeline?

1) Generate 2000 leads and build profile of our consumers by December 2019 in order to
understand our target market and help cater to them.
2) Increase exposure to our media outlet (i.e. Podcast, instagram) and create Youtube
channel with existing and new video content consistently starting September 2019.
3) Expand events to four cities in North America by January 2020.

Why should this innovation be selected?

Let’s face it. We put a lot of emphasis on formal education: Science, Math, Language, and so on. Why not focus on personal development, cultivate skills and form insights into issues that impact us? Why not learn the art of having conversations and become stronger as individuals and as a community? And why not making a positive impact from a community care point of view?
At Yalla! Let’s Talk., we are building a new type of educational startup, while bringing people together, and building a stronger, more inclusive, and supportive cultural network. Just come to our events, watch our videos, listen to our podcasts…and talk! — Yalla! Let’s Talk.

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