Baraka Blog

Growing thoughts

Social Entrepreneurship and the Middle East – A Vision

Picture 14

Over the past eight years, I have read, listened to and watched material on Social Entrepreneurship.  The work of Mohamad Younis of Grameen Bank,  Jacqueline Novogratz of the Acumen fund and Bill Drayton of Ashoka inspired me.  I found that like countless others, their work focused on Africa, East Asia, South America, some work in Afghanistan, but the bulk of Arab nations in the Middle East were overlooked!

At first glance I thought perhaps we don’t have the extreme issues that nations face in Africa, India and the rest; no famine, natural disasters and rampant disease.  Social Entrepreneurs work to solve problems of marginalized communities, eradicate social and environmental problem areas, and work in a triple bottom line  model.  It turns out the Middle East, Arab / Non Arab nations, Christians, Muslims and all others have their fair share of  marginalized communities, social and environmental issues that are crying out to be addressed; and there’s a strong and growing population of positive change agents who are devoting their lives to solve them.

Our issues it turns out are of a different variety, maybe more subtle, no less alarming, and with far reaching consequences if left unaddressed.  We have the largest population under the age of 30, with bleak prospects for education and employment opportunities.  We have some of the highest rates of diabetes in the world, especially in children.  Some of our nations rank highest in carbon footprint, yet have the lowest fresh water supplies in the world. Deforestation is a critical problem, over-fishing, eroding coral reefs, use of pesticides in crops, polluted cities and much more. Our children don’t read, don’t interact with nature and when asked, many lack dreams and role models.

The encouraging fact is there are hundreds, if not thousands of social entrepreneurs who have been working and continue to work to address and solve these problems. Yet, until recently, they worked alone, and didn’t have the banner of Social Entrepreneurship to collaborate under. The term is slowly making its way into the media, university discussions, forums and state dialogues.  Organizations are beginning to pop-up to encourage collaboration, dialogue, experience exchanges. Some of the forerunners have received acclaim from international organizations, like Injaz-AlArab. Women, who are often the spotlight of the international media for their low employment rates, are among the leaders in their civic responsibility  and can do more given the training and collaboration tools.

I dream of the day when social entrepreneurship is taught at middle school level. When children are taken on field trips to show them role models in the field, where every university student is asked to give his or her idea of how to solve a problem, save a forest, educate a village, eradicate diabetes; a day when every business has a social bottom line and a community problem to solve.. where the media celebrates the social heroes  and governments write about them in school curricula. I dream of governments collaborating across boarders for cleaner air, higher fresh water tables and much more!

One response to “Social Entrepreneurship and the Middle East – A Vision

  1. Salua Daghay October 14, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    This is very inspiring!! I love the way you dream and wish your dreams will come true!

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