Arab World Social Innovators Program

About the Program

Launched in 2008, the Synergos Arab World Social Innovators (AWSI) program supports nearly 50 social entrepreneurs serving poor and marginalized communities in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and Palestine.

photo of Ziad Abichaker with recycled glass
Ziad Abichaker, a Social Innovator leading several for-profit recycling initiatives in Lebanon as part of his quest to create a zero-waste society.

Social Innovators are pioneers of change in their communities and offer original approaches, methods, and solutions to address social and economic problems. Their entrepreneurial ventures represent a diverse array of fields ranging from education to microenterprise, which impact the lives of tens of thousands of women, children, youth, and people with special needs.

These grassroots leaders challenge the existing systems that perpetuate poverty and inequality in their communities in search of a more equitable outcome for society’s most underserved. Through the AWSI program, Synergos enables Social Innovators to reach more people, expand or replicate their projects, and increase their capacity as local leaders to bridge economic and social divides.

Over a period of two years Innovators receive an integrated set of offerings, including a financial award, technical assistance and capacity-building workshops, access to Synergos’ global network, mentorships, and peer network exchanges.

photo of women working in field
Maysoun Odeh Gangat (left), with staff of 96 NISAA FM in Palestine, which she founded; NISAA is the first women’s radio station in the Middle East.

Program Impact

With Synergos’ support, the inaugural class of Social Innovators reached new levels of success, expanding existing programs or launching new ones, hiring new staff, entering into new collaborations and partnerships and increasing the total number of beneficiaries served by their initiatives. The first group of 22 Social Innovators increased the number of people they serve by over 20%, and over 60% of the Innovators are serving a new segment of the population since entering the program.

Highlights from the inaugural class include:

  • The training of 420 Jordanian female storytellers and the establishment of 80 libraries reaching more than 4,000 children with community-based literacy and educational programs.
  • A school with integrated education for visually-impaired Palestinian students has secured facilities to more than double its student base to 300 students. The model is being adopted broadly by the Palestinian Authority.
  • An organization serving Egypt’s long-neglected garbage collectors expanded vocational training to over 3,200 youth and is working toward formal government recognition of the community.

Synergos recruited a second class of Social Innovators in 2011, with initiatives that promote non-violence, uphold the rights of workers in the informal economy, serve children and women with disabilities, provide environmentally friendly waste management, and offer radio programs focused on women in the Middle East.

The third class of Social Innovators has been selected for 2013, with representation from many different sectors including arts and culture, health, women and youth, and recycling.These twelve exceptional Innovators coming from Lebanon, Egypt, Palestine and Jordan join our alumni and the social entrepreneurs in Egypt from the Pioneers of Egypt program to form a network of close to 100 social entrepreneurs in the MENA region.

For More Information

Please Contact:
George Khalaf
Director, Middle East and North Africa
The Synergos Institute
gkhalaf@synergos.org
+1 646-963-2151

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