Entrepreneurship: some interesting experiences across the world/5

Mostafa Shahat has been working in entrepreneurship field for 7 years. He founded a training company called G.O.L (Goal Oriented Learners). G.O.L is improving Egyptian youth employment’s skills to be qualified candidates for the job market by offering trainings on entrepreneurship, professional trainings (marketing, sales..ect).Mostafa succeed to deliver G.O.L trainings to 30,000 entrepreneurs & graduates in Egypt.Mostafa interviewed over 80 entrepreneurs from all over the Middle East and published their success stories in international entrepreneurship magazines.Mostafa succeed to build partnerships with several European organizations to organize funded Entrepreneurship programs by National European Agencies in Italy, Bulgaria and Netherlands. Here he gives us a collection of some very interesting stories from international entreneurship.

Young leaders in Tunisia are shaping their country’s future

Tunisia is the first country in the entire Arab world to have a huge youth uprising in the North Africa countries’ history, that ended up with a revolution in 2011, that has not only affected Tunisia, but as well as the other Arabian countries.Arab spring started in 2011, in the same year when entrepreneurship has shown its positive effects on the community development, and was used as a tool by young people to change their life and contribute effectively in their community.There are many social entrepreneurs who succeeded after the Tunisian revolution to found social enterprises to tackle the local community problems, Hamida Louguini a Tunisia social entrepreneur, whose life changed after the revolution because of social entrepreneurship, she has founded Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) organization in Tunisia, where she is supporting young Tunisian women leaders to participate in the political process, and increase their leadership and representation in the Tunisian community as well as to make the voice of underprivileged and isolated women heard.

‘We are linking women with their peers who have been in the similar struggles to provide mentorship from their experiences’ says Hamida ‘as well as we are offering skills-building trainings designed specifically to empower the young Tunisian women leaders’ needs and potentials’.Hamida studied Business English at the University Of Mannouba, and she obtained her master’s degree focused on Business Communication from the same university in 2016. Hamida’s passion along with her strong motivation to support the Tunisian civil society have unleashed her best abilities to join various of international and national NGOs in Tunisia since young age, she has joined the organizing committee at The Arab Institute of Business Managers and European Youth Forum , Community Volunteer at TedxCarthage and Debater at Young Arab Voices.  “Joining at early age many organizations as a volunteer has helped me to increase my network and built my personal brand” says Hamida “I couldn’t reach to where I am right now without being proactive and committed”.Hamida worked at Sawty association means in English my voice as Media Manager, Sawty is an association that is supporting the Tunisian youth during the democratic transition, by raising the awareness of the importance of the civic and political participation, promoting the culture of dialogue, and encouraging networking and collaboration opportunities materialize between the different actors of the civil society on the one hand, and between civil society and government on the other hand.

‘I believe that the Tunisian youth are the potential and future leaders of their country’ says Hamida.Hamida has attended the fourth regional summer course on ‘The Implementation of Human Rights Conventions in the National Systems‘ at the Human Rights Center at Beirut Arab University in Lebanon, where she has attended several trainings and workshops about human rights topics, with participants from all over the Arab countries.  Hamida believed that her efforts and contribution matter, and she will be continuing working and volunteering in the civil society, and supporting others to understand how important their contribution is whether in the political or civic life.

Entrepreneurs in Lebanon: Nibal Farashe

 

Lebanon is one of the North African countries that is most religiously diverse, and it has its unique culture which makes it one of the top destinations in the Middle East for tourists to visit. Lebanon’s community is one of the open-minded and modernize communities in the region, that respects women’s rights, and is not ruled by specific religion.  Despite there are many challenges politically and economically in the Lebanon’s community, but Lebanon is one of the very few countries in the region that has not been affected by the Arab spring in 2011.There are many activists, community leaders and entrepreneurs who positively shaped Lebanon’s community, there are many social enterprises that launched in Lebanon and operating now in each of the Middle East countries.Nibal Farashe, is one of the few women and children’s rights activists in Lebanon, who started working at very early age with the civic organizations in the rural areas to empower women and children, provide ongoing educational programs and defend their rights.

Nibal studied Law and Political Science at the Beirut Arab University in 2015, since she was 14 years old, she used to volunteer with World Vision where she was organizing leadership camps for underprivileged children in rural areas. During these camps children learned many different social skills, as well as understood their role as a citizen and knew their rights and duties.For over than seven years, Nibal was part of World Vision, she was not only providing entertaining and educational activities for the children, but as well as,  participating in conducting evaluation and assessment for other world vision’s projects.‘World Vision empowered myself confidence and independence, and I feel that my role in the community is important, and my contribution and efforts matter’ says Nibal.Nibal used to volunteer as well at UNDP for almost three years, where she was responsible for children and youth educational and development programs, and some other environmental projects.After graduation Nibal served in many international NGOs. She was working as a Caritas Legal Consultant at UNHCR registration center, Protection Department, Human Rights trainer at Shield, Educator at AVSI where she was working on developing programs to empower the children through different educational activities, and finally Social Worker at InterSoS.

Nibal has attended the fourth regional summer course on ‘The Implementation of Human Rights Conventions in the National Systems‘ at the Human Rights Center at Beirut Arab University in Lebanon, where she has attended several trainings and workshops about human rights topics, with participants from all over the Arab countries.

‘Volunteerism plants the seed of change in my soul’ says Nibal ‘that’s why I want each one to live the same experiences that I have been in to be empowered and inspired by many role models, and believe in themselves, trust their abilities, and understand deeply that their role always matters’.  Nibal is using all her previous experiences to launch a new social enterprise that is going to provide trainings’ programs for youth, children and women, and it will be based on volunteering. Nibal believes in her capabilities and skills, and she will do her best to spread her success story between other Lebanese’s women who have been in the same struggles as Nibal was to give them hope and motive to continue fighting for their dreams.

Annunci

Entrepreneurship: some interesting experiences across the world/4

Mostafa Shahat has been working in entrepreneurship field for 7 years. He founded a training company called G.O.L (Goal Oriented Learners). G.O.L is improving Egyptian youth employment’s skills to be qualified candidates for the job market by offering trainings on entrepreneurship, professional trainings (marketing, sales..ect).Mostafa succeed to deliver G.O.L trainings to 30,000 entrepreneurs & graduates in Egypt.Mostafa interviewed over 80 entrepreneurs from all over the Middle East and published their success stories in international entrepreneurship magazines.Mostafa succeed to build partnerships with several European organizations to organize funded Entrepreneurship programs by National European Agencies in Italy, Bulgaria and Netherlands. Here he gives us a collection of some very interesting stories from international entreneurship.

Theater and drama create sustainable communities

 

Theater and drama are tools to change the community and inspire youth and kids to be change-makers, arts in general can be used to build sustainable communities, through empowering young people who can make change and difference in their local communities as they always trying to develop creative and sustainable solutions to their daily lives challenges. One of the very few social enterprises in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region, named Yes Theater has worked exclusively with children and young people using theater and drama as a tool to raise awareness and advocate on community issues.Mohamed Issa, half Palestinian / half Jordanian, studied chemical engineering in 2002, at Najah University in Palestine, obtained his master degree in International Cooperation and Development from Bethlehem University in 2012, worked as program manager at World Bank for 4 years since 2004, where he was responsible for providing quality management systems and curriculum development services for Palestinian universities.  Mohamed co-founded Yes Theater (YT), in 2008 with a group of co-founders who spent eighteen years implementing drama and theater projects and programs with youth inside and outside schools, in cooperation with the Palestine ministry of education.Mohamed says “The Palestinian community is suffering from many different social challenges” adds “we use drama and theater to build sustainable communities and empower youth and kids to be change-makers who can face their daily lives challenges with creative and sustainable solutions”.Yes Theater main tools to build the sustainable communities and empower youth to be change-makers are artistic performances specially speaking to the issues relevant to the Palestine society, drama workshops and theater performances capacity building for teachers in theater based techniques, advocacy plays and activities of culture exchange. Annually they reach to 30,000 youth and kids, and over than 100 teachers.

Mohamed says “When children and youth join Yes Theater, they grow up in many ways” adds “they amplify their voices, and leverage their influence and power as actors of social change and development”.Mohamed has founded a new social enterprise under the umbrella of YT, named Puppets 4 Kids where they are performing different plays with puppets that has social messages, the programs is targeting only school’s kids.  Yes Theater is located in Palestine, has more than 16 theater productions, YT’s activities operate through three main programs; Drama 4 All, Yes 4 Youth and Yes 4 Future, where they either teaching drama for teacher or youth, or creating drama plays with social messages.YT has performed in 15 different countries in three continents (Asia, Europe and Africa), and joined seven international festivals in Europe and Africa, and it’s considered the first theater in the entire Arab world that has been awarded with transparency international certificate.

Charisma Arts is using Arts and social initiatives to empower the community in Egypt

Egypt is rich with handicrafts, and after the Egyptian revolution in 2011, with the political and economical challenges, the field started to vanish. Producers and artisans suffered for years after the revolution to sell their handicrafts products, they depended more on the tourism industry, as their main customers were foreigners, but the tourism industry has dropped down after the revolution, and therefore they are not generating a sustainable living income.This is where the social entrepreneurs should step in and play a role to help the artisans to market and sell their handicrafts products not just to preserve the heritage as some of the handicrafts’ history goes back to thousands of years but as well helping those who were living by selling handicrafts products to have a sustainable living income as they used to.Vivian Labib Noeur, a social entrepreneur who founded Charisma Arts which is a social enterprise that empowers and trains artisans and marginalized communities to leverage the rich inheritance of Egyptian handmade products, and helps them creates sustainable income to enhance their life quality. She actually started this as the first Egyptian female to have an ecommerce site back in 2003, and was keen to promote unique handicrafts that also have a social impact on the producers.Charisma Arts started with marketing artisans’ handicrafts products through different online channels so they can sell their products not just in the local market, but as well in the international market. Currently she sells on charisma arts website unique gifts supporting families and looking for agents abroad to help marketing products of over 175 different groups of artisans products.  After the revolution, as a social entrepreneur who is keen to address the community challenges, Vivian registered Charisma Arts as a nonprofit foundation, and started also having other on-going projects that uses arts and social initiatives to empower the community, like “Box of Colors “that promotes the value of accepting diversity among youth and children, in addition to outreach program, and training program specially on entrepreneurship for the young entrepreneurs in Egypt.

‘Each one of us is representing a color, and a beautiful picture is combined with different colors, that’s why I named the event Box of Colors, as all of us together with our differences can make Egypt beautiful country’ says Vivian.Vivian had a Bachelor of Arts from the Faculty of Fine Arts in 1997, and she worked as graphic designer, translator, interior designer, marketing manager for companies in Egypt, and country manager for foreign companies in Egypt before starting her own social passion and establishing the social enterprise of Charisma Arts. In 2009 Vivian was chosen in cohort one in 10,000 women initiative, “Women entrepreneurship and leadership skills”, and was chosen first 20 entrepreneurs from Euro Mediterranean area by the Catholic university of Milan, Italy in 2010, was also chosen as a delegate to meet President Obama in 2010 in the social entrepreneurship presidential summit, and recently became a fellow in George W. Bush foundation in 2014, besides being chosen to be a speaker in the first TEDx Cairo Women in 2012.“Social entrepreneurship is not an option is an obligation” this is the famous quote Vivian likes to use to emphasis about the importance of social entrepreneurship specially in Egypt and specially in the current critical transforming stage – Vivian admires artistic work, and with her passion to the community development, she reached to orphanages, refugees, prisoners and Upper Egyptians to teach them some handicrafts skills, and provide mentorship, and finally help them to sell their products, by doing so, these people who are living in marginalized and isolated communities, they found source of sustainable living income.Besides providing several training to over 700 women all over Egypt on entrepreneurship and how to start your own business, Vivian also is a volunteer mentor in several women programs like “Aspire women” with Microsoft citizen and like “Women in business” mentorship program with US embassy in Cairo.Ms. Noeur has been a speaker in a number of events, where she is always keep empowering the audience and influencing youth to discover the charisma God has granted each and every one of them, and use it to help others and make an impact on the society, to spread the good will and volunteerism concept.Vivian has joined many local and international fairs where she sold many of the handicrafts products, and she received many international and national awards for her excellent work at Charisma Arts, and she used to have her own gallery in Cairo before the revolution.

 

Entrepreneurship: some interesting experiences across the world/3

Mostafa Shahat has been working in entrepreneurship field for 7 years. He founded a training company called G.O.L (Goal Oriented Learners). G.O.L is improving Egyptian youth employment’s skills to be qualified candidates for the job market by offering trainings on entrepreneurship, professional trainings (marketing, sales..ect).Mostafa succeed to deliver G.O.L trainings to 30,000 entrepreneurs & graduates in Egypt.Mostafa interviewed over 80 entrepreneurs from all over the Middle East and published their success stories in international entrepreneurship magazines.Mostafa succeed to build partnerships with several European organizations to organize funded Entrepreneurship programs by National European Agencies in Italy, Bulgaria and Netherlands. Here he gives us a collection of some very interesting stories from international entreneurship.

Empowering Young African Youth

A story of Dorien Beurskens a Dutch woman who moved to Africa 1995 in Kenya to work as a volunteer at Don Bosco a global organization that empowers young people, at one of its international project which focused on Street Children issue, she used to volunteer at Don Bosco in Holland for long time working with young people, and they have facilitated for her to travel to Kenya, Quoted from Dorien “After two weeks staying in Kenya, I fall in love in Kenya and the development work”, adding to her point “I realized at that time, where I want to be and what work I could do which fits my values and skills”, Dorien stayed in Kenya for 4 months, and then she went back to Holland for a one year to work with Don Bosco to deliver employment training for young girls about computer and secretarial training and then she returned again to Kenya for one year to Don Bosco, Quoted from Dorien “Once I went back to Holland, I felt homesick to Kenya, that’s why I went back again to Kenya after the one year long that I stayed it in Holland”.

Dorien didn’t only fall in love with Kenya and development work but, as well she fall in love with her life and work’s partner Raj Joseph originally from India who later worked together to start one of the most successful, sustainable and influential NGO called Young Africa (YA), YA empowers underprivileged young people with skills of the hands to make them self-reliant, skills of the heart and mind to live with dignity, skills of the soul to live with purpose, Quoted from Dorien “YA wasn’t only my idea, but it was me and Raj’s idea, we built out dream together”, adding to her point “Raj was already working at Don Bosco when I arrived to Kenya, and before he was working at Don Bosco in India, both of us didn’t have degree in development, I had a master degree in Latin and Greek ancient history from Leyden University at Netherlands and Raj had his master in Film & Television from UCLA at USA”.

Dorien  spent 1 years at Kenya working with Raj in the street children project, parallel; they were as well thinking and developing the idea of YA, Quoted from Dorien  “Don Bosco does a great work, but there are few elements that we saw in the work of development that we wanted to change, first; working towards financial self sustainability of the organization, secondly; the technical issues that are usually happening when you’re handing over the management of an international organization to local people’.

YA finally came to life in 1998, Quoted from Dorien  “We wanted a name for the organization, we have been searching for a name that is possible and positive, I thought of YA which means in Dutch – Yes, and then when we searched for the abbreviation that fits to that name, we ended up with Young Africa”, adding to her point “Even after many years, we are still happy with it, because it’s dynamic name which explains extremely what we do, and the word young is usually gives energy”.

They started YA activities in Zimbabwe July 1998, that was the first destination that have targeted as they found that it needs more development especially youth empowerment and they were searching for a place where they can make a big difference, and Kenya had already many international NGOs that were doing a great projects over there, Quoted from Dorien  “Before designing any programs, we have done very informal survey for 6 weeks to see what are the youth’s dreams in Zimbabwe? And what are constrains that block young people to achieve their dreams? And how could YA contribute to that?” they have asked local people, government people, NGOs people, students at schools & universities, the answers were almost the same, young people needs vocational training and income generation projects, and that was the direction that YA ended up following.

Quoted from Dorien  “We felt strongly, if we want to contribute to the development in the society, we need to engage young people in the process, they are very dynamic and big energetic force, with their power they can shape their society” adding to her point “Young people by nature, they want to change, improve, and innovate, and they are the most powerful force for change”.

The First project they have started was entrepreneurship training, they have trained group of young people how to start their projects beside they offered whom succeed to have a good proposal loans, the project lasted for 2 months until they had the opportunity to summit proposal to Dorien’s high school where she used to attend her high school in Holland, and they succeed to receive a grant to start the first vocational school at Chitungwiza the biggest township at Zimbabwe, and they have been rewarded by the mayor who offered them a big space of land where they built their 1st vocational school.

Quoted from Dorien  “At the vocational centres, we succeeded to build different  workshops for technical, commercial or agricultural courses, where the young people can either learn how to be the qualified & perfect employee or how to be successful entrepreneur” adding to her point “We have created a very creative business model that helped us to be sustainable and start YA’s training centers in 3 different countries, starting with Zimbabwe (Chitungwiza and Epworth),then; Mozambique (Beira and Dondo) and finally Namibia (Walvisbay)”.

They have rented workshops, land, equipment and facilities to local entrepreneurs who are working in different fields (restaurants, garages, crèches, hair salons, farms and libraries, etc) so they can make revenues while they are producing goods or services, as well they can train youth in the field of their expertise.

Quoted from Dorien”At YA, all courses are franchised to a local entrepreneur. This franchisee pays rent for the use of YA facilities and equipments. Each department raises their income from the profit they generated through the production of goods or services. A contribution from franchisees covers the operational expenses of a YA centre and guarantees its sustainability”.

YA succeed to train 1000 students in each centre in a yearly basis, and each training is lasting between 6 – 12 months depending on the course, with 35 hours training per week, for only 15 students to make sure that each student has the hands on experience, their target audience is students between 15 – 25 years old with lack of academic performance.

 YA have developed the curriculum for the courses and the local entrepreneurs who were highly selected and interviewed were delivering the training. At the end; students have the freedom to choose between searching for jobs that fit their skills and be employee or start their business and be an entrepreneur.

YA teaches young people skills of the hands to be self-reliant, skills of heart and mind to live with dignity, skills of the soul to live with purpose, moreover; life skills education and entrepreneurship training are integrated in all Young Africa’s courses.

YA succeed since they started to training over 25,000 youngsters, YA has currently 6 model skills training centres’ in 3 countries, 83% of the graduated students find a job, apprenticeship or start a business and 90% of the youngsters makes responsible choices with regard to HIV/AIDS and finally YA model has been replicated by GO’s and NGO’s.

Dorien has been accepted to be Ashoka Fellow, Ashoka  is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in 70 countries putting their system changing ideas into practice on a global scale, and being Ashoka fellow is considered one of the prestige award that Dorien has been awarded with.

Within the next 10 years, YA is planning to reach to half million youths with 15 centers in southern Africa through scaling the organisation and dissemination of the model.

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African Entrepreneurs are always the pioneers

 

We always see the entrepreneurs’ final step which is either creating their NGOs or companies, and start growing up and scaling outside his/her community, but have we ever imagined the entrepreneur’s success story and what was challenging him/her during his/her journey.

I interviewed Susannah Farr from South Africa, who started GOLD to create generations of leaders and to develop social capital in African youth. Susannah grew up in a family who loved and believed her, a dad and mom who were activists, a father in particular who was full of entrepreneurial spirits, he has been always encouraging his daughter to stand up for those who have least.Susannah has proofed that African Entrepreneurs are always the pioneers, African communities are always struggling with their societies’ problems, innovative and creative’s solutions have become more needed, youth is usually the power to implement these solutions, and they need to be involved in the society transformation to ensure the long term sustainability. Development work worth the sacrifices, as its results is always magnificent, and it is changing people’s life, and that’s what Susannah has done, she scarified with her career to build GOLD.

Q: Could you tell about your personal story and what are the challenges that you have faced to help you to become who you’re now?

A: I grew up in a loving yet financially tough home environment. My white friends’ got pocket money from their parents, who had two cars and owned a house. I did not have these luxuries.Yet despite this, I always felt a sense of immense gratitude for how my parents modelled the important values in life to me and exposed me to a world that so many young white South Africans sadly never had the “privilege of experiencing” because of the apartheid legacy and their own fears of embracing diversity.My parents raised three Xhosa children as my foster brothers and sister whose biological father had been murdered and their mom had left them to make money through sex work at the time. I grew up in a simple yet cross-cultural family which was an extraordinary gift that I believe shaped so much of who I am today. Not only have my husband and I adopted two beautiful children whose biological parents died, but I have been actively committed to diversity and building bridges across the cultural and socio-economic gaps that are so prevalent in South Africa because this appreciation in me was shaped.I was encouraged by my Dad to do entrepreneurial ventures to make up for the pocket money my friends got and I ended up being positioned to share with my friends and family too. I was always starting something and selling something. Losing my father to cancer was a painful experience and a huge hole in my life. It has given me a level of compassion I don’t believe I could have had before without having gone through the loss of a parent. Most young people do not have any adult role models and this is a critical lack in our society which GOLD is seeking to address at multiple levels.

Q: Education matters, and its priority in our life to be educated to be able to do change. How could your Education background support you to be successful entrepreneur?

A: I was a hard worker and was given a “no strings attached” bursary to attend a top private school in my high School years which gave me a significant sense of the value of quality education yet also an awareness of the massive gap between rich and poor and its impact on society as a whole. After completing my schooling I studied Advertising and Media. However, in my early 20’s, I felt an increasingly strong sense of purpose to be a part of seeing the next generation come into their full potential and be given opportunities that they would not else have, and my career path was redefined. I turned down a big job offer in an Advertising Agency. This was a big watershed moment for me. I felt that my media and advertising background would come to benefit me later once I had established a strong community development background and furthered my studies in an area that I could better use to serve others significantly in my generation.  My Masters degree helped me give academic validation to my dream of young people empowered to bring change.

Q: International experience is always exposing people to new culture and ideas, and it’s always unleashing their skills, could you share part of your international experience?

In 1999 I spent seven months in Egypt where I lived in an orphanage and then lived and worked with youth in the slums of Cairo. This was a tough experience as a young single woman in many ways (from being sick to experiencing extreme poverty and living within a culture very foreign to anything I had experienced even in my cross-cultural upbringing).This experience taught that although one may be materially poor, they have so much to give and are in fact rich. I later initiated two NGO’s, one which was more of a behind the scenes role with my church at the time in a township called Guguletu where the poor were trained to reach out to those that were destitute. With these experiences it deepened in me a passion to see young Africans that come from the poorest communities know how rich they are and how much they have to share if they respond to their circumstances with a sense of purpose. I also realize that with all the potential in the world, unless there is an enabling environment for young people to flourish, potential will not come into being. These need to be addressed systemically and at policy level. An intervention strategy that hopes to be effective must address root causes, meet young people where they are at in their communities, get to grips with the challenges they face and offer relevant help to confront challenges and make life-affirming choices.

Q: What’s the Social entrepreneur definition from your point of view?

A: I think a true social entrepreneur is an innovator. A person that is committed to discovering solutions for the world’s most pressing issues of the day and the big social challenges which are normally also economic in nature. A social entrepreneur is a unique breed. They are thought leaders that are committed to questioning and challenging the status quo by developing strategies, models and products to change systems and start movements of positive change that can be sustained and scaled. They change things for the better over the long haul.

Q: How did you come up with your GOLD’s idea?

 

A: My idea was birthed out of a dream to see young people provided with the platform to lead and shape their future-politically, economically, socially and culturally. The dream is to see a generation of young African leaders very often labelled as the youth bulge crisis at the bottom of the pyramid – to see them given the platform and the tools to confront and overcome the pressures and desperate circumstances at home that make them do what they do to survive and forget the pain.  And to harness their potential and impart vision and skills so they can mobilise their peers and younger children to be a part of a revolution of hope for the next generation.In South Africa particularly, the legacy of apartheid required an intentional approach to empowering youth in a restitutional manner and providing opportunities without forgetting the need for responsibility to go hand in hand with rights. The lack of leadership as a whole regarding HIV in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s led to a need for strong civil society organizations to address the key drivers of HIV and inadequate education whilst also challenging decision makers and addressing structural changes required for sustained change. Throughout history, key transformation was initiated by individuals, many of whom were young. If young people are given the tools and mentorship, their potential to lead change can be realized as the greatest force for development and improving their quality of life in the future. The stigma around technical skills as opposed to university degrees has perpetuated the skills gap that is fuelling the unemployment crisis amongst school leavers most of whom will never attend university but are the backbone of the economy in taking up potential semi-skilled jobs and internships.

Q: Entrepreneurs are usually struggling and facing problems and challenging all the way long until they succeed, I am sure you have definitely faces some, can you share the most challenge that you’re facing nowadays?

A: I have faced many during my life to start GOLD. I am a great believer in allowing adversity and difficulties to help fuel innovation and make you stronger. I think the biggest challenge has been dealing with donor cycles when you are trying to implement a long term model.  Being committed to quality and scale is a challenge but has been an important part of our DNA. We can only sustain wide if we go deep first.

Q: Give us an overview about GOLD activities, Methodology, vision,…etc? And how could GOLD contribute to South African society? 

A: GOLD Peer Education Development Agency (GOLD Agency) is a dynamic non-profit organization that aims to grow young African leaders with hope, character and integrity to mobilise their generation with the tools and support to complete their education and go on to reach their full potential, despite obstacles such as poverty, apathy, inadequate education, unemployment, orphanhood and HIV. GOLD Consulting is a for-profit social enterprise holding company which is 100% owned by GOLD Agency.  I established GOLD Consulting as a social enterprise to leverage commercial value in GOLD Agency to help towards sustaining the work of GOLD Agency in under-served communities. This is done through unlocking solutions in emerging markets and in doing so, creating jobs for the GOLD Agency youth beneficiaries.At the heart of the GOLD methodology is the belief that the message giver is the strongest message. The GOLD Model harnesses the influence that young people at grassroots have on their peers and younger children. Youth encourage each other to make informed choices and develop health-enhancing and purpose driven socialnorms.In order to createchange in the peer group, personal change needs to beignited. Adolescent Peer Educators from hard-hit communities, who demonstrate leadership potential,are selected from among their communities and peer groups to enter the GOLD programme. They are then equipped, mentored and supported by skilled young adult Facilitator Interns over a three-year period. Their personal change has a ripple effect on their peers, younger children and their communities. The GOLDselection process is well tested and includes volunteering and nomination with an interview process.The GOLD Peer Education Model, using a well-researched curriculum and supporting resources, has been tested and refined over ten years. Peer Educators attend weekly  skills training and mentoring sessions, run by the Facilitator Interns, equipping them to perform the four roles of a GOLD Peer Educator, namely to:

  1. Role model health-enhancing behavior.
  2. Educate their peers and younger children in a structured way.
  3. Recognize peers in need of help and refer them to relevant community resources for assistance.
  4. Uplift their communities through advocacy and volunteerism.

The Peer Educators thus gain valuable skills as well as practical work experience, while uplifting their communities, ultimately leading to an increase in their employability and to a stronger community.GOLD Agency’s future forward initiative connects GOLD Grads (Alumni) to future opportunities in further education, workplace internships, access to entry level jobs and entrepreneurship support.The concept of Peer Education, which harnesses the influence that young people have on their peers, is not new. The new idea that I developed and implemented is the concept of a Peer Education Model that is measurable, replicable and scalable, with clear indicators and expected outcomes which are entrenched in the understanding of character attributes as core to sustain change at an individual, peer group and ultimately at a community level. This new idea is the GOLD Youth Peer Education Model and if rolled out in enough countries, provinces, schools and community sites can effect systemic change and will positively impact the way that the education and health systems interact with and support youth.

Q: GOLD is a very successful and sustainable social enterprise; definitely, you have received some international awards for your magnificent work, could you share some of them?

A: We have been rewarded many times before, the recent one and the most prestige’s award is being Ashoka Fellow in 2014, Ashoka is the largest network of social entrepreneurs worldwide, with nearly 3,000 Ashoka Fellows in seventy countries putting their system-changing ideas into practice on a global scale. GOLD won first prize in the first Commonwealth Good Practice Education awards 2006, for a best practice model in supporting education in difficult circumstances out of applications from across 56 countries. In Dec. 2013 GOLD received the Impumelelo Social Innovation Award. In 2010 GOLD won best health project by the Mpumalanga Provincial AIDS Council.

Q: What’s your vision for South Africa and the green Continent Africa? 

A: I have a vision to see GOLD Peer Education being implemented across Africa so that millions of young people are developed and given hope and are better able to make good decisions for their lives and access future employment and study opportunities or grow their own businesses. Systemically this will strengthen education quality and increase healthy and purpose filled social norms. I think Africa has the potential to show the rest of the world what true community and servant leadership is about. Africa is rich – its full potential is untapped. Its greatest resource is the GOLD at the bottom of the pyramid and I think how we develop the human and social capital of grassroots youth will determine our future.Finally; Africa continent needs each one of us efforts, change happened when we believe it will happen, it doesn’t come by chance, African entrepreneurs & activists will not be in rest until they see our continent flourishing, and we no longer have development countries, long live Africa.

 

Entrepreneurship: some interesting experiences across the world/2

Mostafa Shahat has been working in entrepreneurship field for 7 years. He founded a training company called G.O.L (Goal Oriented Learners). G.O.L is improving Egyptian youth employment’s skills to be qualified candidates for the job market by offering trainings on entrepreneurship, professional trainings (marketing, sales..ect).Mostafa succeed to deliver G.O.L trainings to 30,000 entrepreneurs & graduates in Egypt.Mostafa interviewed over 80 entrepreneurs from all over the Middle East and published their success stories in international entrepreneurship magazines.Mostafa succeed to build partnerships with several European organizations to organize funded Entrepreneurship programs by National European Agencies in Italy, Bulgaria and Netherlands. Here he gives us a collection of some very interesting stories from international entreneurship.

Building a sustainable community by supporting women with micro-credits

Fida Abu Turkey is a Palestine woman, who succeed to support 100 underprivileged women to start their businesses when she was only 18 years old, and started three different organizations when she was studying arts at Al Quds Open University, she is considered one the most influential civil society activist in Palestine.

Fida grew up in Palestine particularly in Hebron city , since young age, she was volunteering in local organizations that support underprivileged women socially and economically. In 1999 when Fida joined the university, she has successfully run a fundraising campaign and gathered $100,000 to support underprivileged women in her city to start their businesses; 100 women received microcredits, Fida has started three organizations when she was studying in the university, Palestine Center for Communication & Development Strategies  (PCCDS) is a Palestinian non-profit NGO founded in Hebron in 2009 by Fida and a group of young female activists working in fields of development, democracy and human rights, in order to empower the most marginalized and disadvantaged families socially, politically and economically, and she also established Mobile Legal clinic for Human Rights and Rural Development Committees, and lately she has joined them with PCCDS.

In 2009; Fida started Irada for comprehensive development, one of the biggest sustainable organization in the entire Arab world that supports underprivileged women with micro-credits, training and marketing consultation to grow and scale their businesses, Irada supported more than 2500 women to receive funds between $1000 – $5000.As Fida is always active, she has joined more than 20 international conferences in Asia, Europe and Africa to represent Palestine entrepreneurs’ women. She was rewarded with the 1st place in King Abdullah II of Excellence and Youth Innovation Award in 2011, and 1st place in Prince Abdulaziz International Prize for Entrepreneurship in 2014, and Ashoka fellowship.Fida has a dream to support women not just in Palestine, but in the whole Arab world countries, she wants to implement Irada model in each of the Middle Eastern countries to help and support women to receive a fund and build their business. Fida believes that women in 21th century are playing a big role not just in the community’s sustainability but as well in the country economic stability.

Sustainable entrepreneurship Ecosystem in Jordan

Entrepreneurship flourished in MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region after the Arab spring in 2011, and with the support of the international donors, each of the Arabian countries succeed to build a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem which has a varieties of main actors; incubators, accelerators, venture capitals and angle investors who invested in social businesses or ventures which have potential to grow up and be sustainable organizations or companies.Jordan is one of the Arabian countries that succeed to create a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem before even the Arab spring, one of the most active entrepreneur and investor in the region his name is Saeed Omar a Jordanian who started the first accelerator in the MENA region in 2009, and have been running different successful businesses inside and outside Jordan.Saeed studied hospitality management in 1999 at Cyprus, he served for 9 years in multinational companies in different positions in many of the Gulf countries, but the company where he stayed longer was Media One as sales manager for 5 years in Dubai.Saeed went back to Jordan in 2009 to help founding the first accelerator in the middle east called Meydan (means in English square) with famous Jordanian social entrepreneur Maher Kaddoura, where they were supporting social ventures with an investment twenty thousands dollars each, and in return they have ten percentage equity of the company, Saeed was responsible for the selection process including receiving application and interviewing entrepreneurs. Saeed succeed in one year to recruit 19 social ventures from 500 who have applied, after the great success of the program in the first year, Saeed has decided to step down and work only as management consultant to Maydan and focus on his new venture.Saeed has founded in 2010 Sitat Byoot (which means in English women’s houses) is E-commerce website that helps women who are producing handmade products to sell it online, in less than 6 years, the website has 750 thousands women from 25 Arabian countries registered, with a revenue sales per month 10 – 15 thousands dollars, as well; they have conducted workshops to teach women who would like to learn how to make handmade products, around 100 workshops have been organized for 1000 women in Jordan, and they used to upload these workshops online so all the women in the region can learn how to make handmade products as well, almost 21 thousands women have access to the online uploaded recorded workshops.Parallel to running Sitat Byoot, Saeed has decided that his passion towards supporting entrepreneurs and creating sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem is endless, that’s why he started in 2015 Startupnow which is a consulting company that helps organizations that support entrepreneurs, their services varies between marketing and management consultation, to training & development, within a year Startupnow has conducted 224 workshops that served 13 thousands entrepreneurs from all over the region.Two of the most incredible achievements that Saeed is proud of, first; he wrote a book named “Company Startup Program’ currently being taught at 20+ universities in Jordan, that helps wantrepreneurs how to start companies or organizations, providing practical solutions for all the marketing and management issues that usually face all the startups when they launch, second; Saeed for one year during 2014 has worked as a consultant for Doha Business Incubation Center (DBIC) which is considered as the biggest incubation center in the world that is built on 22 thousand meter squared, Saeed was supporting the center through the selection process, interviewing entrepreneurs as well giving marketing and managements advices.Saeed has been awarded with many international awards for his great contribution to create entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region and his successful sustainable businesses, one of the most prestigious award is Queen Rania Award for Entrepreneurship.

 

Entrepreneurship: some interesting experiences across the world.

 

Mostafa Shahat has been working in entrepreneurship field for 7 years. He founded a training company called G.O.L (Goal Oriented Learners). G.O.L is improving Egyptian youth employment’s skills to be qualified candidates for the job market by offering trainings on entrepreneurship, professional trainings (marketing, sales..ect).Mostafa succeed to deliver G.O.L trainings to 30,000 entrepreneurs & graduates in Egypt.Mostafa interviewed over 80 entrepreneurs from all over the Middle East and published their success stories in international entrepreneurship magazines.Mostafa succeed to build partnerships with several European organizations to organize funded Entrepreneurship programs by National European Agencies in Italy, Bulgaria and Netherlands. Here he gives us a collection of some very interesting stories from international entreneurship.

 

Entrepreneurs in Egypt: Ahmed Negm

Cairo is the biggest city in Egypt, with over than twenty million people, which makes it the largest city in Africa and the middle East, and the 5th largest metropolitan area on earth.The increase in the population, without a transportation infrastructure, makes the traffic jams in Cairo terrible and unbearable, especially in the rush hour where there are over than two million cars in the street. There are many consequences for the traffic congestion, not only pollution as cars produce different harmful gases, but it blocks ambulances, kills pedestrians and causes horrible pile-ups, and it all leads to either trade insults, smoke cigarettes and waste much of the productive time.Transportation infrastructure, doesn’t only mean building new roads, but maintaining the old ones, creating traffic light system, and ensuring the safety in the streets. Many entrepreneurs have tried to solve the traffic jam problem by using mobile apps, but they are only helping to avoid crowded streets, and the real problem that Cairo is facing in the number of the cars that are moving in 236,000 miles of roads.

Carpooling succeeded to solve the traffic jam problem in many crowded cities all over the world, and it’s the time for Cairo to use carpooling which is the most environmental friendly and sustainable way to travel, It reduces each one travel’s costs, stress of driving and importantly the number of cars in the street.Despite carpooling in Cairo seemed for many of the Egyptian entrepreneurs impossible because of the political instability and the safety issue in the street but Ahmed Negm with his sister Samira Negm succeeded to found in 2014 Raye7 means in English “Going”, the first carpooling mobile app in Egypt.

Ahmed studied at the Faculty of Engineering at The Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport in Egypt (AASTMT), since young age, Ahmed used to travel all over the world for many reasons, between conferences, trainings to internships, he travelled to more than twenty countries.Ahmed lived in Tokyo, Japan for six months as he was a Solar Cells intern at Ulvac Technologies, ‘I used hitchhiking many times in Tokyo and I have travelled over than 2,000 kilometers by carpooling’ says Ahmed.Ahmed with his team faced many challenges to found Raye7 in Egypt, but the most challenging and complicated obstacle they faced was how to ensure safety with the political and economical instability in Egypt.‘We had to try the mobile app in small communities to build trust’ says Ahmed ‘that’s why we built partnerships with companies and universities so their employees and students can use Raye7’s mobile app’.Ahmed with his team usually update Raye7’s mobile app to make it as friendly and easy as possible, during the last year, Ahmed has joined many international competitions inside and outside Egypt, two of the most well known mobile app competitions that Ahmed with his team won the 2nd place in, named Demo Africa  in Egypt, and Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Ahmed is planning to use Raye7 mobile app in big major events in Cairo, where all attendees can come together instead each of them come alone in his/her car, as well they plan to use Raye7 in multinational companies around Egypt, they are very keen to try the app in small communities, where people already trust each other.Ahmed used to worked as Experience Manager at RiseUp Summit, one of the biggest entrepreneurship summit in North Africa countries that is conducted in yearly basis, and he used to organize leadership conferences and exchange programs in many of the African countries with AIESEC.

Entrepreneurs in Egypt: Muhammed Nagi

After the Egyptian revolution in 2011, the co-working space concept started to flourish. Young Egyptian youth started launching different initiatives to tackle many social problems. The revolution increased their ownership over their communities.The co-working spaces have supported many initiatives that allowed organizations and entrepreneurs to connect and work together for a greater impact. AlMaqarr (means The Headquarters) was one of the pioneers that started actively supporting NGOs, initiatives and student organizations by hosting them in their premises and offering mentorship, training and network, so they can operate effectively and grow to tackle community’s problems.Muhammad Nagi, AlMaqarr founder and MD, studied English Languages and Literature at The University of Ain Shams. Mohamed is an entrepreneur since he was a student. He co-founded one of the most active student organizations in his university called React. React focused on changing the students’ mentality and attitude towards their own lives by delivering employment skills training, as well as human development programs.“I believe that each one of us has a hidden treasure that needs to be discovered, that’s why I always wanted to help students not to underestimate their power” says Muhammad.Muhammad with his team faced many issues while running their activities. The lack of mentorship, facilities, networks and premises were the main issues they faced. In 2012, Muhammad with his team had the idea of starting a co-working space, which was designed to suit entrepreneurs and community leaders needs and become a real productive and creative environment where all the community players can interact and collaborate together.

“The idea of the co-working spaces was new. We were very excited to start AlMaqarr and all of us sacrificed to make it happen” says Muhammad.Nagi was a professional Karate player. He was representing Egypt in many global competitions. He used to work with several local organizations that mainly focused on charity projects to support marginalized areas in greater Cairo. Because he is still connected to sports, Muhammad is currently working as a Fitness Coach at Fitiology where he is instructing and coaching groups/individuals through fitness programs.AlMaqaar is supporting over 700 entrepreneurs with more than 300 project ideas. They have been selected as the best co-working space in Egypt and received local and international recognitions for their efforts.Muhammad is a true believer in collaboration and coworking, and how working together can build exceptions. With his team, he launched a great engaging experience that can be delivered to help reinforcing the networking concept. They launched ElRe7la (means The Journey); a social enterprise that provides extraordinary out-of-office experience for change-makers to widen their horizons and change their lifestyle to help them be more productive.They have organized over 6 entrepreneurial camps in different destinations in Egypt, and invited more than 700 change-makers from all over Egypt.Nagi has been selected by Cairosecene as one of the 25 entrepreneurs who are under 25 years old. He is very grateful for the successes that he has made but his passion towards entrepreneurship never ends.

Mohamed believes that entrepreneurship is the only way out for Egypt to solve the major economic and social challenges. Co-working spaces are one of the main tools that could help young Egyptians with the resources and networks that they need to reform their communities and build their ventures.Even though the Co-working spaces concept was just introduced to the Egyptian entrepreneurial ecosystem, but we saw lots of great examples of entrepreneurs who shaped the community with their great entrepreneurial ideas and still willing to sacrifices to make greater impact.