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All about donating time

Three aspiring young entrepreneurs spent 54 hours battling, building and planning their business ideas at Batelco’s first ‘Startup Weekend’ and now their winning idea is already on the way to making the world a better place.


Their brainchild called Charitime is a social enterprise that encourages people to donate their time instead of money to charity.


The online initiative persuades individuals to use their skills and talents to get involved in voluntary work and raise funds for worthy causes. Each volunteer has the option of finding out exactly how their efforts are being put to good use.


Mastermind and CEO Yazin Al Irhayim is supported by fellow co-founders Ebrahim Al Mulla, the dedicated designer, and Khatoon Al Attar, the head of public relations and marketing. They have been joined by Taimoor Ali Dar, a business strategist.


Yazin, 25, from Riffa, said: “The idea came to me when I read a recent volunteering report online that revealed that helping unpaid in the US represented about five per cent of their annual gross domestic product (GDP), which is the market value of all officially recognised final goods and services produced within the country in a given period. This equates to almost $800 billion. That figure was mind-blowing! Imagine what that sum could do to the world!


“I sent a tweet out before Startup Weekend looking for a name for the idea. Ahmed Zainal replied and suggested Charitime, which is a combination of both charity and time! I booked the domain right away. Currently, we are four passionate people, determined to make the world a better place.”


The team has come a long way since winning last year’s challenge, steering the wheel to success earlier this year with a two-part pilot development, the wheelchair project.


Ebrahim’s passion about helping the disabled led him to volunteer and raise funds by using his computer design skills to generate funds close to BD1,000. As a result Charitime was able to provide five wheelchairs for the Bahrain Association for Parents and Friends of the Disabled and five more for the Muharraq Welfare Society. Leftover funds were donated to an international charity.


Ebrahim, 26, from Muharraq, said: “I’ve always dreamed of being an active part of the community. I wanted to give back to a society that has embraced me by helping those who were not as fortunate.”


Newcomer Khatoon originally fought the boys for glory in the final as part of another side but was so inspired she made up her mind to join the winning team.


Khatoon, 25, from Segaiya, said: “I’ll never forget Charitime’s final presentation, it was phenomenal! After that I couldn’t stop talking about it. I am extremely passionate about what Charitime does. The team couldn’t get rid of me. I like to think of it as a hostile takeover but they insist I was adopted into the team.”


Charitime’s main focus is currently on crafting the final touches of its beta website (still in development and only open to a limited number of people) based on feedback they received from the public. The site will soon be the hub for volunteering participants eager to be part of the social platform.


Taimoor, 27, from Riffa, said: “Our vision is to become the most recognised force in the world that tackles the difficult challenges faced by humanity. We aim to give everyone equal opportunity to contribute and make a difference … to be part of a new volunteering culture that takes over.”


Yazin is currently in the process of launching another IT start-up company, and will return to the start-up event this year as a speaker and coach and will be joined by Khatoon and Ebrahim.


l Batelco’s Startup Weekend 2012 is scheduled to take place from November 8-10 at the company’s staff centre in Hamala. Applicants must be over 18. Registration is now open and costs $30 (BD11.300) for early birds. The limit the event can accommodate is 150 people so visit to book your place before 6pm on November 8.

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Mr Hubertus von Drabich
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