The Importance of Social Entrepreneurship in the Middle East

The Middle East has some of the most innovative technology companies today. The region has placed an emphasis on social entrepreneurship alongside its major strides in technology. Social entrepreneurship aims to address social issues and forge a better future. Countries throughout the Middle East continue to struggle with a wide range of social challenges. Through a number of notable social entrepreneurship projects, these countries have begun to push for a brighter future for their children.

A Look at Innovative Social Entrepreneurship Projects

Last year, the Enriching the Middle East’s Economic Future conference, held in Doha, Qatar, recognized the value of supporting social entrepreneurs from around the region. During the conference, five organizations were recognized and given cash prizes for their innovative solutions to social problems. The top prize went to Univenture, a company that translates academic research into products for everyday people. The company seeks to increase collaboration among governments, private sector business leaders, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). While universities create a number of exciting ideas, they often fall by the wayside instead of undergoing further business development.

Another company honored at the conference, ennota, provides cloud-based financial management services for small businesses in the Middle East and North Africa. Through cash-flow management capabilities, accounting tools, and resource planning guidance, the organization hopes to make innovative companies more viable in the long run. Many companies fail because entrepreneurs do not have adequate experience with or an understanding of financial management. Through ennota, companies have access to an affordable and effective solution that they can access from anywhere in the world. The company plans to capitalize on the increasing popularity of entrepreneurship in the Middle East by removing one of the major obstacles.

In addition, Yomken.com received recognition. The company produces a nonprofit platform that fuels grassroots innovation through crowdfunding and the open-innovation model. Specifically, the company matches entrepreneurs with skilled university students to allow them to collaboratively develop a product. The built-in crowdfunding resource can remove some of the financial barriers to starting a company. In addition, the platform allows everyone ranging from students to investors to claim a stake in a good idea.

Support for Middle Eastern Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship has the potential to address and alleviate many of the issues faced by the Middle East and drive development in the coming years. Understanding the impressive potential of social entrepreneurship, many organizations have stepped forward to help people with aspirations of social innovation. One of the most prominent organizations is Synergos, which operates in countries around the world. In the Middle East, Synergos focuses primarily on fueling social entrepreneurship through three programs. All of them leverage the collective knowledge of people in these regions to provide the best strategic support possible.

The Alliance for Social Entrepreneurship, one of the flagship Synergos programs, provides a forum for collaboration among social entrepreneurs in the Middle East. The alliance also stretches to countries in Africa and Asia, providing a large network for individuals to call on for help or support in order to launch their own ventures. The alliance has facilitated the creation of Country Social Entrepreneurship Networks, which aim to create a clear sense of the social entrepreneurship landscape in each country and identify the primary constraints. By utilizing this knowledge, the networks will create a more supportive ecosystem for social innovators.

Specific to the Middle East is Synergos’ Arab World Social Innovators program, which seeks out individuals with the most promising ideas to help them launch their own companies. Dozens of individuals from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Lebanon, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries have received support from the program. These individuals have developed revolutionary projects in the fields of education, environmental preservation, employment, technology, and community development. The program provides support that includes two years of technical assistance, funding, and workshops. In addition, participants gain access to the Synergos global network, which connects them with key mentors as they expand their companies.

Synergos also operates a program designed specifically for Egypt called Mobaderoon Masr (The Pioneers of Egypt). The program seeks to identify young Egyptian leaders and provide them with the necessary tools to forge a better future for the country. In an effort to train young people, the program connects them with internships where they can develop new skill sets. In addition, the program emphasizes the importance of developing leadership skills and bringing social entrepreneurship into the public domain.

Mobaderoon Masr has had a major impact on the development of social entrepreneurship in Egypt. The creation of similar programs in other countries in the Middle East could foster a stronger link between entrepreneurship and social change. Much of the program’s success derives from its emphasis on developing leadership skills in youth and introducing them to entrepreneurship and business from a young age. The ultimate goal is to help brilliant young minds become invested in the future of their country and provide them with the support they need to make their innovative ideas a reality.

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