Ashoka Arab World Fellows are transforming society’s systems and improving the lives of millions of people in the region. Through their work and their initiatives, they are contributing to the advancement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Goal 1 - No Poverty
Aicha Ech Channa, Morocco (Ashoka Fellow since 2010)
Unwed mothers have been socially rejected and excluded from legal protection and healthcare access as well as from any chances of education or work opportunities which consequently placed them in need and poverty situations. Aicha has tirelessly advocated for the social inclusion of unwed mothers in Morocco. She works in empowering them through providing shelter options, vocational training opportunities in preparation to enter the job market and medical and psychological support. Aicha’s Association Solidarité Féminine (ASF) has supported thousands of women and changed perceptions on this now recognized population
Usama Ghazali, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2015)
Usama is advancing 11 local communities across 16 governorates in Egypt through the preservation of local indigenous craftsmanship skills, helping individuals leverage these abilities to formally integrate themselves in the modern market and maintain a sustainable income and full economic citizenship. Traditional art of handicrafts has been increasingly neglected and many craftsmen no longer find this option economically viable. Usama also promotes social conscious consumption and is empowering communities to own their development.
Goal 2 - Zero Hunger
Yasser al-Hajj, Palestine (Ashoka Fellow since 2017)
Yasser is helping women and refugee communities in Palestine to achieve food security and improve their nutrition by building and caring for rooftop greenhouses. Refugees are being empowered by owning their food production, creating a local market without depending on foreign aid and employment opportunities and by shifting from a dependency mindset to a sustainable self-empower one. More than 100 families have built over 15 greenhouses, received agricultural and entrepreneurial education and are now participants of the economic ecosystem.
Goal 3 - Health and Wellbeing
Mohamed Zaazoue, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2012)
Dr. Mohamed Zaazoue is introducing a cultural shift in attitudes toward health and healthcare. He created a first of a kind health education system for Egyptian children and their parents to create active health seekers, has also mobilized more than 400 medical school volunteers for health awareness campaigns and has encouraged future doctors to move away from a simply giving medication instructions approach to become health educators.
Yorgui Teyrouz, Lebanon (Ashoka Fellow since 2017)
Yorgui is creating a revolutionary blood-donating voluntary system where individuals can donate for their community to transform the country's existing framework where patients receive donations only from their families and friends. He is transforming the mindsets of people and government with this movement where he highlights the joy of supporting the community voluntarily. Yorgui has engaged over 18,000 blood donors and is now building a powerful network of volunteers across Lebanon.
Goal 4 - Education
Rawan Barakat, Jordan (Ashoka Fellow since 2014)
Rawan is creating an inclusive educational system for visually impaired students by incorporating listening skills, thus increasing interactivity, imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and empathy. She has institutionalized the concept of listening classes to equip teachers with interactive teaching tools. This creative methodology is also paving the path for other innovations on education. Her model is replicated across schools and refugee camps in Levant.
Mustapha Jazar, Lebanon (Ashoka Fellow since 2016)
Mustapha is helping students to explore and solve societal problems to access employment opportunities, he works to alter Lebanese social dynamics, challenging the existing monopoly and centralization of the education system. Mustapha partners with local universities and NGOs to encourage entrepreneurial education for youth. He is offering a wide range of opportunities that are otherwise inaccessible for lower socioeconomic backgrounds and encouraging entrepreneurship to solve societal problems.
Goal 5 - Gender Equality
Zeinab Al-Momani, Jordan (Ashoka Fellow since 2009)
Zeinab is advancing gender equality with the Arab region’s first agricultural union for poor, marginalized women farmers. Through union and cooperatives, Zeinab has organized these women, provided them training, empowered them to raise their needs and concerns and encouraged their active participation in decision-making. This initiative has gradually brought change in culture and perceptions as well as economic collective power to protect their rights and access capital to start their own income-generating activities.
Maysoun Odeh Gangat, Palestine (Ashoka Fellow since 2012)
Maysoun is promoting gender equality through media. She started the first commercial Arabic language women’s radio station and website in the Levant. 96 NISAA FM provides a space for discussing pressing women’s issues, transforming how women see themselves and for inspiring other women to work in top positions in the media field. Maysoun has included women and men as well as stakeholders in her project of advancing women in society by changing perceptions of Arab women and communities.
Goal 6 - Clean Water & Sanitation
Sameh Ghali, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2006)
Sameh has introduced a new system of community participation in sanitation design, creating a sewage system for smaller villages to connect their household septic tanks by gravity-fed pipes to a communal filtering facility. These sewage systems are being promoted in villages who are deprived of hygienic living conditions and will not likely have government programs’ support in the next decade or two. Sameh encourages participation in the local communities for their own sanitation design and implementation, creating a sense of ownership and pride while improving environment and health conditions.
Mohamed Sherif El Ghamrawy, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2004)
Mohamed Sherif has designed an effective and locally managed approach to waste management in Egypt that creates jobs and capitalizes on the collection and resale of recyclable materials. On this approach, neighbours work together and coordinate efforts to rid their streets of trash and build a community investment in environmental conservation. Mohammed Sherif’s organization offers advice and technical expertise to hundreds of prospective waste management initiatives
Goal 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
Raghda El Ebrashi, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2010)
Raghda is creating employment opportunities for marginalized youth through a market-based, sustainable model that caters to the business sector and market needs. Raghda’s organization offers training and mentorship opportunities for employees from marginalized communities, giving them an opportunity to access the labor market. She also creates income-generation opportunities in the informal sector by offering youth training and microcredit to start their own projects.
Tamer Taha, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2017)
Tamer's online platform Yomken.com matches solution seekers with solution providers, overcoming market stagnation in Egypt that is especially present within the innovation sector. He not only focuses on the crowdsolving platform or in online work, Tamer also conducts innovation workshops with NGOs and governmental institutions; provides isolated innovators with outlets for their work; and works with universities’ professors and researchers to evaluate quality and feasibility of solutions. He is scaling his operations and connecting innovation seekers and providers in the Arab region.
Mohammed Al-Kilany, Palestine (Ashoka Fellow since 2011)
Mohammed is making the labor market more accessible for job seekers regardless of their location, gender or socioeconomic background. Through Souktel Inc., an organization developed by Mohammed using basic mobile phone technology such as SMS, job seekers and employers can connect in a more transparent and equitable manner. Thousands of young Palestinians whose circumstances had previously denied them job opportunities have been placed in the market and have now access to information on employees’ rights and other job possibilities.
Goal 9 - Industry Innovation and Infrastructure
Mohamed Abou El Naga, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2007)
Mohamed is developing papermaking centers to tackle high levels of unemployment and address environmental pollution from agricultural waste in a creative and integrated way. He manages a training program in which communities acquire the knowledge and necessary skills to start their own papermaking businesses. Mohamed wants to ensure the sustainability of this profession by creating a niche for producers and by identifying domestic and international markets where this economic activity can expand.
Hany El Miniawy, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2004)
Hany is introducing low-cost housing to low-income communities. By using a participatory approach, simple building techniques and local materials, Hany is addressing low-income housing shortages and inhumane living conditions. Through experimentation with local ingredients, he has been able to create low-cost, government-certified and environmentally friendly construction materials and he is transferring his know-how of materials and techniques to youth in low-income communities.
Goal 10 - Reduced Inequalities
Nawal Mostafa, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2013)
Nawal works to change the perception and treatment of female prisoners with a focus on poverty prisoners. This vulnerable group was before invisible in society but Nawal has been leading change in form of policy reforms, change of perceptions and reintegration programs. She works to ease their rehabilitation into society by altering legal policies and shifting social stigmas that currently make re-entry difficult. She provides them with vocational training and continued psychological rehabilitation. Nawal’s work has been widely replicated in Egypt’s female prisons and has received significant attention in the Arab world.
Mohamed El Sawy, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2009)
Mohamed provides a platform for citizens of different socioeconomic backgrounds to express themselves, debate societal issues of concern, and participate in social campaigns and awareness events. In this community center, Mohammed is providing equal access to all Egyptians to address contemporary issues through cultural, artistic, sports, debates and knowledge sharing events. These activities are encouraging participation, self-expression, social activism and social consciousness in youth of different economic and social backgrounds.
Goal 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
Leila Ben Gacem, Tunisia (Ashoka Fellow since 2016)
Leila engages community members in the renovation of old historical sites in Tunisia and then helps to integrate these spaces into the economy by transforming informal artisanal initiatives into sustainable businesses. Using online tools Leila encourages people to be participants and co-creators of the renewal of their own Medinas. Apart from increasing citizen participation and increasing cultural confidence of Tunisians, this initiative is preserving heritage and creating a touristic competitive edge
Rabee Zureikat, Jordan (Ashoka Fellow since 2009)
Rabee has created a niche for marginalized rural communities in the national economy and introduced a framework for lifting them out of poverty without relying on unsustainable financial aid. A more egalitarian and inclusive tourism model in Jordan which challenges existing social systems and processes, promotes culture heritage and community pride and uses revenue as investment for community economic development.
Goal 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
Dan Driscoll, Morocco (Ashoka Fellow since 2019)
Dan is building a more inclusive and responsible market for artisans by shifting its exploitative nature into an artisan-led and owned cooperative model. Through bottom-up solutions, he is empowering artisans and transforming their roles from exploitation and physical laborers to business owners with agency over the complete value chain. Solutions include accessibility to online sales even for illiterate artisans, access to high-quality non-toxic materials and self-advocacy for policy changes.
Adam Molyneux-Berry, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2014)
Adam is creating a new generation of entrepreneurs with a green mindset which is environmentally and socially friendly. He is shifting the Egyptian business focus towards a sustainable and accessible green economy in urban and rural areas. Adam uses collaborative participatory approaches with the aim of creating independent and self-sufficient communities that are able to overcome their own challenges with green products and services as solutions. Adam has also focused on youth employment and farmers training and involvement as part of the participatory methodology.
Goal 13 – Climate Action
Zaher Redwan, Lebanon (Ashoka Fellow since 2012)
Zaher is working to make biodiversity a strategic national objective. He financially incentivizes individuals and entities whose actions are accelerating the loss of biodiversity – like private landowners who sell farmland to urban developers and herb collectors who crudely harvest plants growing in the wild – to halt their environmentally damaging practices. Zaher is also educating general public and young people on the environment and in ecologically friendly practices for their daily lives.
Goal 15 - Life on Land
Sarah Toumi, Tunisia (Ashoka Fellow since 2014)
Sarah is changing the agricultural industry in the Arab Maghreb sub-region by combating environmental and social challenges such as desertification and rural poverty. She introduces farmers to sustainable income generating farming practices through training and also offers them new opportunities by introducing them to trees that have a positive environmental and economic impact, revitalizing the land, creating a greenbelt to prevent desertification, and consuming much less water than traditional crops
Goal 16 - Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions
Ramzi Jaber, Palestine (Ashoka Fellow since 2013)
Ramzi is systematically changing how people in the Arab region access and process information. Through his work, he seeks out reliable sources of data about pressing social justice issues and then presents this information in visually appealing, easy-to-understand infographics. His goal is to shift consumers’ culture from biased, incomplete and mis-information into informed citizens with the ability to stimulate social opinion and pressure decision-makers to address social injustice.
Yousry El Koumy, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2012)
Yousry is promoting peaceful and inclusive societies through educational experiences in which Egyptian children and youth can become accepting and tolerant towards each other. By promoting tolerance and acceptance, Yousry aims for youth and communities to overcome social, religious and ethnic divisions. He involves and encourages parents, students and community to use the Universal Human Rights Declaration in their daily life and in local initiatives. His initiative is transforming mindsets and creating informed tolerant future leaders.
Achraf Aouadi, Tunisia (Ashoka Fellow since 2019)
Achraf is preserving the victories of the Tunisian revolution by battling micro and macro corruption on multiple fronts and organizing young people around transparency, good governance, and anti-corruption. Through his organization iWatch, he is integrating and engaging every citizen, specially youth, as an empowered and politically active society. Achraf aims to create a regional dynamic against corruption with the grass-root citizen sector organizations and youth at its heart taking into account specific needs rather than imported general programs.
Goal 17 - Partnerships for the Goals
Salem Massalha, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2018)
Salem has revolutionized the world of virtual philanthropy by introducing a new collaborative framework for fundraising, Clickfunding. He has united actors such as social media users from disadvantaged backgrounds and companies that didn’t have CSR agendas before to contribute to positive change within their local communities at no cost. Salem is demonstrating that everyone can take part in social change and also, that through collaboration, social, environmental and developmental impact can be achieved.
Marwa El-Daly, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2008)
Marwa has built a self-sustaining framework for philanthropy through the creation of a community-based foundation that boost giving. Different sectors are involved in Marwa’s initiative such as the waqf or trust dependent of business entrepreneurs’ donations and the encouragement of wealthier communities to donate regularly. She is reviving/creating social responsibility in Egypt for citizens and shifting the emphasis from charity to development of their own communities in an organized manner.
Ahmed El-Hawary, Egypt (Ashoka Fellow since 2015)
Ahmed is breaking the highly centralized Cairo-centric mainstream Egyptian media and introducing a community-based media stream to Egypt and to the Arab region. His organization Bashkatib empowers youth to be active spokespeople of their communities. This network of young people not only produces and distributes free of charge publications in the local area but also publishes multi-media content on an online network which connects the different media outlets around the country with each other. Ahmed is empowering youth in the region to connect in common interest areas.