From Friday 14 May, to Saturday 15 May, Cairo witnessed a flurry of activity dedicated to social entrepreneurship in the Arab World. The Arab World Social Innovation Forum hosted over 250 delegates hailing from over 20 countries.
On AWSIF’s second day, delegates attended one of three Roundtables: Developing a Social Investment Framework; Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship; and Market-Based Solutions. They concluded the roundtable sessions by offering pledges of support to Ashoka and social entrepreneurship in the Arab World.
We were deeply moved by the enthusiasm and dedication of our guests, among whom counted tens of Directors and CEOs from the private sector, scholars and policy makers, public figures, and up-and-coming social entrepreneurs of the Arab region!
Round Table 1: Developing a Social Investment Framework
Discussion addressed the concept of social investment and the necessity of constructing a mutually beneficial framework for engagement and investment between the social and private sectors. The round table sought to develop such a framework that yields both social and economic gains.
The following pledges of support were made by Round Table participants:
- Hibaaq Osman (Founder & CEO, Karama) & Maha Helali (Ashoka Fellow) will seek to hold a regional forum on social investment, in cooperation with a regional body, such as the Arab League.
- Mohamed El Sawy will establish a company to invest in financially-sustainable, profitable social ventures.
- Adam Said (Founder & Director ACE & Co., Ashoka Support Network Member) will give consulting services to Ashoka and Ashoka Fellows. He will identify and structure for-profit social enterprises, where donations will roll into profit, as well as guarantee social return.
- Nayim Khmaies (Ashoka Support Network Member) will promote hybrid definitions for concepts relevant to social investment, in cooperation with the social and private sectors.
- Omar Sodoudi (General Manager, Souq.com) will facilitate awareness and activation of social investment via internet-based platforms.
Round table 2: Youth Innovation and Entrepreneurship
Entrepreneurship is essential for promoting youth inclusion, especially as the need for private sector development and job creation is at an all-time high. There is no universally accepted definition for youth entrepreneurship, which affects the relevant policies. There is also no general understanding of youth entrepreneurship’s long-term goals or short-term risks.
The following pledges of support were made by Round Table participants:
- Ahmed Younis (Silatech) will sponsor a female Ashoka Fellow working on innovation in job creation.
- Shahinaz Ahmed (CEO, Education for Employment Foundation) will coordinate college-graduate volunteers who can provide in-kind services to Ashoka Fellows that need specific types of support.
- Henriette Kolb (Director, Cherie Blair Foundation for Women) will work to improve the access rural farmers have to technology in Jordan, and will bring financial payment services, using mobile-phone applications, in cooperation with Ashoka Fellow Zeinab Momany (Jordan)
- Matthew Stephenson (US State Department Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative) will push for a new award to support youth entrepreneurship in the MENA region, following State Department support for youth entrepreneurship.
- Rama Chakaki (Founder & CEO, Baraka Ventures) will partner to support 1Ashoka-Baraka Fellow in the UAE. This partnership will work on producing an open social community platform for social entrepreneurship to feature projects that attract donor consultancy and financial services.
- Baraka will also work on an online platform to serve as a community for social entrepreneurs that will be launched and called Bidayat.
- Abdelfattah Abusrour (Ashoka Fellow, Founder of Al Rowwad) pledges to help AAW with in-kind consultancy to help scale up Ashoka as an institution.
- Karim Kasim (UNDP Egypt) will connect 1,000 young leaders within his UNDP Young Social Innovation Program with Ashoka. These young leaders are fostering information sharing through ICT-based ventures and can use this online portal to help promote Ashoka and social entrepreneurship.
- Nader Kabbani (The Syria Trust for Development) would like to invite 2 Ashoka Fellows to a Syrian development conference in May 2011 to announce their success stories.
- He has also committed to do his best to bring Ashoka to Syria.
- Deema Bibi (CEO, INJAZ Jordan) will connect Ashoka to her networks in Jordan. INJAZ can furthermore add a leaflet in its publications introducing Ashoka. With 45 CEOs the on INJAZ Board, Ms. Bibi can help Ashoka scale up its operations. She will also provide consultancy services to Jordan Fellows.
- Jacqueline Sfeir (Ashoka Fellow, Founder MaDAD) will capacity build for participatory practices, through a partnership with Ashoka Fellow Abdelfattah.
- Simel Esim (International Labor Organization) will invite an Ashoka Fellow to his workshop in Beirut on entrepreneurship and development for women.
- Nairy Abd El Shafy (Ashoka Arab World Staff) will promote the concept of social entrepreneurship amongst friends and youth within her network. She will promote idea of volunteerism for as long as she lives.
- Ziad Mokhtar (Principal, Ideavelopers) will mentor 2 Ashoka Fellows on making their organizations viable from a financial perspective.
- Fairouz Omar (Ashoka Fellow) will develop student curricula to have a greater focus on social innovation.
Round table 3: Market-Based Solutions
Discussion focused on how to conceptualize and how to implement market-based initiatives for the social and economic development of consumers at the Bottom of the Pyramid. The round table considered Ashoka’s Housing For All Initiative, a market-based initiative to provide affordable, structurally-sound housing to the inhabitants of informal urban areas through the microfinance institutions (MFIs) of 4 Ashoka Fellows.
- Nick Sullivan (Fellow at the Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy) will encourage Tufts University Fletcher School graduate students to develop a thesis or make a research project on Ashoka’s Housing For All Initiative (HFA).
- The journal Innovations will publish 1-2 case studies about HFA within the next 12-18 months.
- Omar Hallaj (CEO, The Syria Trust for Development) will connect Ashoka with his organization’s think-tank, an upcoming platform for sharing knowledge, research and information on social entrepreneurship. He also will advocate for AAW in Syria.
- Steve Podmore (Founder, The Global Sustainability Challenge) will look into the possibility of funding the Ashoka Housing For All Initiative from his foundation. He will also share contacts, knowledge and best practices with Ashoka.
- Egbert Appell (Managing Director, The Hilti Foundation) hails from Ashoka Arab World’s long-time supporter, the Hilti Foundation. Mr. Appel hopes to see positive market-based results from HFA.
- Kareem Ibrahim (Founding Member & Former President, Egyptian Earth Construction Association) will coordinate and provide consultancy and technical services in low- income areas in support of HFA.
- Ahmed Fattouh (Founder & CEO, Baron Group Holdings) will join the Ashoka Arab World Advisory Board. In doing so, he will share his network, knowledge, and talent in order to scale up Ashoka Arab World and Ashoka Fellows in the region. He will furthermore consider investing in HFA through his firm.
- Hany El-Miniawy (Founder, ADAPT Egypt, Ashoka Fellow) will formalize ties with other groups and organizations to strengthen the HFA Initiative.
- Sherif Kamel (American University in Cairo Dean of the School of Business) will oversee case studies on HFA, and coordinate the involvement of Business Society and Entrepreneurship Society students can get involved and help out.
- Stephen Everhart (AUC Associate Dean of the School of Business) will support graduate-student research on HFA Initiative.
- Salah Arafa (AUC Professor, Senior Ashoka Fellow) will give a fast start-up to HFA by giving 100,000 LE with 6% interest, in addition to the funding Ashoka has already secured. Through his organization, he will train people to build their own houses. Furthermore, the Forum for Dialogue and Conservation for Development will hold a series of seminars for HFA.