DUBAI: Reading Dogs, an initiative offering children in the United Arab Emirates the opportunity to interact meaningfully with pet dogs by reading to them, took home CHF 10,000 (UAE Dirhams 38,000). The winner came third in the highly coveted piloted project category of the 2020 Purina BetterwithPets Prize, which was announced in a virtual forum streamed live on YouTube.
Organized in collaboration with Ashoka, a pioneer in the field of social entrepreneurship, this year’s second edition of the prize drew more than 150 applicants from across 23 countries in Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, reaping eight finalists stemming from the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Russia, the United Arab Emirates, and Saudi Arabia. Entrants were welcomed across two streams: Early-stage ideas for innovations, and Fully piloted/implemented innovations.
“We are excited to support these social entrepreneurs as they grow their impact and we congratulate the Reading Dogs team on their creativity and ingenuity in promoting the mutual power of the pet-human bond and the importance of working towards a future where solutions override problems,” said Sergej Pracevic, Business Executive Officer, Nestlé Purina for the Middle East and North Africa region.
“We’re very proud to have ranked so highly among a group of so many innovators from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa,” said Karalynn Thomson of Reading Dogs. “The prize will allow us to expand our services across the UAE, delivering more sessions in mainstream and special educational needs schools, building children’s confidence in their reading ability and allowing them to experience first-hand the special bond animals can bring.”
Both the prize winners and finalists will be eligible to access additional programs designed to support further development of their ventures. Select piloted innovators will also be invited to participate in Purina and Ashoka’s Scaling Social Impact Program, while select idea-stage young changemakers will be eligible for a mentoring program.