Arab World Social Innovators at 2009 Skoll World Forum

The Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship kicked off Wednesday at Oxford University with nearly 800 delegates in attendance, coming from 60 countries on six continents.

Synergos was selected by the Skoll World Forum to present at the “Innovators in Action” session, which featured three members of the new Arab World Social Innovators program: Aref Husseini of Palestine, Kamal Mouzawak of Lebanon, and Raghda el-Ebrashi of Egypt. George Khalaf, Synergos’ Director of the Middle East and North Africa Region, moderated a panel with our three Social Innovators to discuss new approaches to entrepreneurship in the Arab world. Also in attendance is Anna Ginn, Senior Director of Development and Communications at Synergos.

In addition to the induction of nine new Skoll awardees, the conference has featured a host of impressive speakers, including the Honorable Mary Robinson, Kailash Satyarthi, Daniel Lubetzky, Ray Suarez, Roger Martin, Jeff Skoll, Dr. R.K. Pachauri and Kenneth Brecher.

Several friends of Synergos are among the participants, including Middle East advisor Fadi Ghandour, Synergos Board member Sabina Alkire, GPC friend Sedge Thomson, and Synergos Senior Fellows Peter Hero, David Bonbright, Catherine Hartnell, and Martin Burt.

Kamal Mouzawak, founder of Souk El Tayeb in Lebanon and a Synergos Arab World Social Innovator, observed that a very positive aspect of the Forum has been the participation of people from the financial and business world who are seeking deeper ways to be socially and environmentally responsible, not just through CSR, but through the core of their work. Private enterprises know how to make things work and are applying their expertise to the world of social enterprise. “At Skoll, I felt like this economic crisis is bringing us together more and this will benefit all,” said Mouzawak.

The Synergos Social Innovators also had opportunities to promote their work, gain visibility for their ideas and discuss their participation in our program to global media outlets. They conducted interviews for the BBC World Service Global Business radio show and will be featured in a 30-minute segment to be aired in the coming weeks. In addition, they were also interviewed by Monocle and Social Enterprise Magazine, two industry-specific publications.

Armed with a new network of contacts and a renewed sense of purpose, our three Social Innovators return home to continue their fight against poverty and inequality. According to Arab World Social Innovator Aref Husseini, “Skoll was a very enriching and energizing experience. It provided a global platform to showcase my work and a new network of contacts. I return to Palestine energized and inspired to continue to advance my work.”