An IB Diploma student focused on Economics and Math, Ahad Khot has taken home several accolades in the Tiger Global Case Competition (an annual business, entrepreneurship and consulting case competition open to high school students). The knowledge he gained from the contests and from his studies in the subjects helped him design content to create the Financial Freedom Program, an international non-profit focused on democratising finance and business knowledge for high schoolers. In the future, Ahad hopes to work in venture capital or social impact investing as ‘these sectors are ripe for innovation in the region and abroad’.

Excerpts from an interview:

Tell us about the FFP.

FFP is an online non-profit platform that has a reach in five countries where clubs have been set up. The platform is also available online. The online community has generated more than 200 hours of content in the form of videos, handbooks and guides taught in branches around the globe. Through the platform’s events, competitions and content, students can learn important skills and compete on a global stage. Our crown jewel is the Young Investors Competition, our yearly investment competition that has garnered over 1200 participants and $10,000 in prizes in this year’s edition set to end in December.

What led you to set up this project?

The motivation was the lack of life skills I observed among youth in the UAE. Moreover, I also saw some of my relatives suffer due to a lack of financial literacy and debt handling skills. These motivated me to offer an unconventional solution.

Whom is it aimed at, and why?

Our target demographic is high schoolers in the MENA region. This is reflected in our content design focusing on things that Gen Z would care about like investing, crypto and marketing. However, as we expand globally and our demographic widens, we aim to expand our content and event offerings to fit the countries better.

What kind of responses have you been getting for this project?

Extremely positive. In fact, here is a testimonial we received that is on our site: "FFP taught me what school doesn’t. It is the perfect community for students willing to go above and beyond their curriculum. Through FFP, learning about business, entrepreneurship, finance and many more has never been more reliable and easy!"

How do you juggle academics with working on such projects?

This is something I struggled with for a long time. However, it’s all about letting the perfectionist in you go. Often, when it comes to assignments, it’s about thinking and studying smart. This includes building a consistent bank of knowledge and practising active recall, the art of testing yourself constantly. Brick by brick these tiny pieces of information coalesce come exam time, and then you don’t have to worry about the last-minute stress and all-nighters. Ignoring the short-term urge of bingeing hours of a Netflix marathon is a part of the solution, though I am still sometimes guilty of this myself.

What tips can you suggest to students who want to work on similar projects?

Build that foundation early, try new things and do something you will enjoy working on even until 3am.

Any plans to scale it up?

We hope to expand to more schools by partnering with established non-profits. Moreover, we are trying to achieve recognition in the form of awards to make the pitch to schools easier. We target reaching 100 schools by August 2022.

Anything else you are working on?

Now, I’m hyper-focused on accelerating FFP to expand into more countries and gain more traction. I also manage Gen Z Consulting– our social impact startup that focuses on providing pro-bono consulting to startups across the globe.

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