Message from the Regional Director
At the time of Ashoka Arab World’s founding in 2003, social entrepreneurship was unknown in the Arab World. The existing social entrepreneurs were swimming against a harsh tide: unnamed, unacknowledged, and unsupported. The social and business sectors operated in mutually skeptical silos. Now, after Ashoka and our partners’ efforts, the name, place, and power of social entrepreneurs in Arab society is firmly established and ever-growing.
Unprecedented challenges such as the recent global pandemic, environmental degradation, and persistent conflicts as well as the social consequences of these problems including high unemployment rates and weak healthcare systems prove that more than ever, our region and our world need changemakers. Social entrepreneurs are not immune to these challenges, but they have continuously demonstrated the power of social innovation and systems-changing models by pivoting in the face of disaster and transforming challenges into opportunities.
At Ashoka Arab World, we offer support services to our Fellows in the Middle East and North Africa and offer them access to a network of more than 3,800 peers around the world. We have also worked to build an innovation ecosystem in the region, making it more effective at supporting and connecting social entrepreneurs and fostering a culture that celebrates changemaking and innovation. Bill Drayton, Ashoka’s Founder, envisions an Everyone A Changemaker (EACH) world, and through Ashoka, he has led a movement to equip all people with the tools they need to solve challenges and be changemakers. We therefore encourage and work to build the problem-solving and critical-thinking skills of children, youth, and parents in this region.
We are immensely proud to witness the rise and advancement of social entrepreneurship across this region. We will continue working to strengthen this ecosystem regionally and globally, for instance, by leading a global movement to redefine success and elevate the work of women entrepreneurs. Our strategic location in the global South makes us well-placed to advance women and global South-led models for impact.
We have come a long way in the Arab region, but we are always looking forward to ushering in the next great era of change. On behalf of Ashoka Arab World, thank you to our Fellows, our partners, and our public and private champions who have uplifted Ashoka and social entrepreneurship to this point, and a big welcome to all those who want to join and co-lead our quest for realizing systems change and transformative social impact.
Iman Bibars, PhD.
Vice President, Ashoka: Innovators for the Public
Regional Director, Ashoka Arab World
Founder and Team Leader, Women's Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE)