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30

Nov

The Arab World’s own “CrowdVoice” Selected as a winner of the #CitizenMedia Changemakers Competition!

CrowdVoice.org has been selected as one of 4 winners of the Citizen Media Changemakers Competition! You can read more about their project here. Congrats to all participants in this project, and thank you to everyone who voted!  

14

Nov

Check out this inspiring video from Citizen Media Changemakers Competition finalists CrowdVoice.Org ! 

Like it?  Then vote to determine the winner of the Citizen Media competition here!  

09

Oct

Supporting the Free Press

Is journalism getting better or worse in the new media landscape? And what does that mean for democracy? During the Arab Spring earlier this year, new media seemed to not only generate unusually multi-faceted news coverage, but also play a role catalyzing the revolutions themselves.

26

Jun

Is post-revolution the time for entrepreneurship? @WamdaMe

10

May

Check out Ashoka Fellow Ranwa Yehia speaking at TEDxCMUQatar!!!

31

Mar

Egypt's Demographic Gift

Great article by Ashoka Fellow Hisham El Rouby on Egypt’s “Demographic Gift”

09

Mar

Ashoka Arab World Regional Director Iman Bibars featured in this fantastic video and article on the role of Women in Egypt both during and after the Egyptian Revolution

07

Mar

Mideast Uprisings Will Spark an Entrepreneurship Boom


Just as 1960s counterculture was responsible for the ’80s high-tech explosion, the revolutionary wave sweeping the Middle East will trigger a boom in entrepreneurship—but this time the change will be measured in months, not decades.

Like many people, I have been watching the events unfolding in the Middle East with a jaw hovering somewhere near the floor. And curiously enough, many of the thoughts the revolutionary wave has inspired in me involve 1960s counterculture and the birth of ’80s high tech in the United States.

Let me explain. A couple of decades back, I received a bit of notoriety for one widely quoted comment, “Money is the long hair of the ’80s.” I had intended to show that at least some of the seeds of entrepreneurship in the ’80s—the flowering of personal computers, gaming, digital media, and so much more—had been sown in the counterculture of the ’60s. I was convinced that much of the ’60s experience of living according to social values, creating nontraditional organizations, the power of networks, grassroots organizing, and the general antiestablishment flavor of what I called the “corporate new wave” had been translated into the startups of the ’80s. When the young reject the establishment, develop confidence in different ways of doing things, and, most important, find cultural and communications bridges to link them together, the stage is set for large scale social change.

Article - Kao Mideast Digital RevolutionEgyptian anti-government protesters hold a sign referencing Facebook in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on February 4. (Photo: Chris Hondros / Getty Images)

What we have seen in the recent Middle East “awakening” is the power of shared experience, primarily among the young, and the use of new social media tools to organize, coordinate, generate content, and affirm a shared culture of protest. The jungle drums of the ’60s that brought people together came from rock ‘n’ roll. The cultural catalysts of 2011 in the Middle East are popular songs of protest posted on YouTube.

Time will tell, but I believe these events have set the stage for an explosion of entrepreneurial energy in the Middle East, especially in the Internet and related tech sectors. I see the emergence of a new socially minded entrepreneur in this part of the world—one willing to challenge the status quo, speak out, eschew the trappings of establishment career paths for something new, and take risks. Little of this has been possible, except with difficulty, in most of the Middle East until now. When repressive forces—direct or subtle—guide the young in the direction of conformity, compliance and conservatism, entrepreneurship may be thwarted. But it doesn’t die; it only sleeps.

Now we see a massive outpouring of self-organized social entrepreneurship and activism, using technology as the medium of exchange. What will follow almost inevitably, I believe, is a similar tidal wave of business entrepreneurship and innovation as those radicalized by recent events and exposed to the power of new technologies quickly find ways to adopt them in every niche of a newly fluid society. The freedom that is on everyone’s mind in that part of the world is the freedom to be one’s own person—and also the freedom to be entrepreneurial in challenging conventional wisdom and established ways of doing things.

(via Daily Beast)

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Egypt’s Twin Forces for Change: Tech-Saavy Youth and the Region’s Entrepreneurs

“The government didn’t understand the change that had come to Egypt in the form of new technology: internet, satellite, mobile devices, and social media,” says Dr. Iman Bibars, Vice President at Ashoka, a global organization of social entrepreneurs, and founding director of the Ashoka Arab World program. Ashoka has supported over 2000 leading social entrepreneurs, known as Ashoka Fellows, who address critical problems in areas such as economic development, health, and education in over 70 countries. Since its founding in 2003, Ashoka Arab World has supported 55 social entrepreneurs and spread to 7 nations.

Dr. Bibars, based in Ashoka’s Cairo office, witnessed and participated in the recent events in Egypt. She says, “Facebook helped the youth become a united generation. Over the last five years, they learned and trained on how to organize and how to go to the street without violence. They waited until this year, when what happened in Tunisia triggered them. The government didn’t see this coming. Most government officials were over 70 – they might not have known what Facebook even looks like!”

Shortly after the country’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, stepped down from power, we took the opportunity to speak with Dr. Bibars about the Egyptian youth movement and its implications for entrepreneurship in Egypt and the region.

MITER: Dr. Bibars, thank you for joining the MIT Entrepreneurship Review today.

Given your unique vantage point, I want to get your perspective on the recent changes in Egypt. First, I’d like to take a step back and talk a little about how we got here. What in the context of the last 30 years shaped the aspirations of the Egyptian people, particularly the youth, in the protests?

IMAN BIBARS: There were several factors that led to the protests. First, the regime had become corrupt and conceited in their attitude towards the people. Mubarak and his regime stopped even pretending to cultivate public opinion, and took a blatant, oppressive, disrespectful attitude towards dealing with the Egyptian people. The fact that the last elections were rigged was widely reported – but Mubarak and his protégés simply continued to rule without a care. Now, elections have been rigged all my life, but before, the manipulation of elections wasn’t as visible as it is now.

In addition, the last cabinet, in place for the last five years, showed arrogance and condescension in how it explained why the government continued to withhold public services from the people. The cabinet members were Western-educated, successful people who were supposed to come to upgrade the government. Instead, they became corrupt as well. They began hiring other elites into the government. They generally had very little regard for the Egyptian people, regarding them as the uneducated masses. They never tried to understand why the masses were uneducated, unhealthy, and impoverished, due to the legacy of the regime. People had become very poor. In the 1960s and 70s, people were also poor, but back then people at least had food to eat. Violence also spread under the regime. The police apparatus became its own oppressive force.

Finally, the government and even the public underestimated the “waiting generation.” 40% of the Egyptian population is between the ages of 15-30. This is a group that was called apathetic or fundamentalist or other names. Apparently, they were not. They were united by their use of social media, not by class, gender, or religion. The majority of these kids were middle class or upper middle class. These were clean-shaven, nice kids.

(via MIT Entrepreneurship Review)

continued after the jump.

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24

Feb

The Egyptian revolution & Social Entrepreneurship

23

Feb

Ashoka Arab World Fellows and The Egyptian Revolution

22

Feb

What can social entrepreneurs learn from the recent revolution in Egypt?

15

Feb

A Perspective from Egypt - Iman Bibars of Ashoka Arab World

Great interview by Next Billion with Ashoka Arab World’s Regional Director Dr. Iman Bibars on the Egyptian Revolution and what it could mean for NGO’s/Social Entrepreneurs! 

———— From NextBillion.net

The events in Egypt have been unfolding quickly and it is hard to tell what the outcomes will be, particularly judging from afar. I had the opportunity to talk to Iman Bibars, founder and head of Ashoka Arab World about her perspectives. Next to promoting social entrepreneurship through Ashoka since 2003, Iman has co-founded and now chairs the Association for the Development and Enhancement of Women(ADEW) in Egypt. Native Egyptian, Iman is enduring in Cairo that has been scene to historic uprisings.

NextBillion.net: In MENA, the state has traditionally played – or was supposed to play – a major role in providing social services and welfare to its people with a trade-off in terms of participation and political freedom. In this context, what were the main challenges you and your team at Ashoka Arab World faced trying to promote social entrepreneurship? Has the situation changed over the past few years?

Iman: The state has long withdrawn from providing even some basic services. Under the claim of economic reforms subsidies were reduced. The last Egyptian government consisted of businessmen who didn’t have to go through the public school system in Egypt but were educated in Western countries. They blamed the Egyptian citizens - particularly the youth - (as) lazy and apathetic. These ministers were hardly aware of the Egyptian education system that penalized free thinking. Youth were often blamed for not wanting to work instead of acknowledging that the education system was weak and not able to equip them with the necessary skills. For instance, in Arabic language classes in primary school, Koran verses were chosen and interpreted as to mean total and blind obedience to one’s father and leader. In ninth grade Arabic classes, students had a chapter on the National Democratic Party in their books including pictures of Hosni MubarakGamal Mubarak and Ahmed Ezz.

For those who dared to express their wish for freedom of expression, state security created and supported an informal network of thugs who terrorized them.

A major challenge NGOs and citizen sector organizations have been facing is the Egyptian NGO law that governs the process and functioning of starting an NGO, funding processes and controls of NGO activities. After a first law put in place in 1964, a new one - law 84 - was implemented in 2002 after extensive NGO lobbying. Although the new law is better than its predecessor in terms of fields of work and activities it still poses restrictions on freedom of association and on fund raising mechanisms. The Ministry of Social Affairs and security have the last say in accepting the formation of any NGO and no NGO can accept foreign funding or even funding from donors within Egypt without written approval from the authorities.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and the Federation for NGOs – of which I am an elected member and a minority in my beliefs – recently wanted to create a new law to further restrict NGOs from getting any funding unless they would approve the recipients to whom the funding would be channeled. The law would tie and control citizen sector organizations - and potentially deny them the only support they get from international donors. Given that local funding is limited to charity or support to political leaders, NGOs would have had no outlet but foreign funding to support human rights initiatives and much needed development projects.

In several instances, NGOs were being harassed and dismantled by governors. In South Sinai, for example, NGOs providing social services to Bedouins were recently hindered in their work. Roughly 30 projects funded by the EU were stopped by the local governor. Cars used by doctors from these NGOs to reach marginalized Bedouins were confiscated and funds provided by the EU were not disbursed for the activites. Unbelievably, there were no repercussions from the EU. Aides of the governor said the NGOs were not Bedouin and therefore not allowed to operate in Sinai. However, these NGOs did have a mandate to work throughout Egypt.

(The rest of the interview can be found on the Next Billion Blog)