Fellows from Ashoka Arab World and Ashoka Africa Convene for Storytelling Training

In May 2018, Ashoka Arab World convened 11 Fellows from the Arab World and Africa for a training on how to tell their stories of social change.

The path to social impact and systems change depends on triggering others to action, to join the movement. From branding, to community engagement, media campaigns, and fundraising, the most successful social entrepreneurs are those that understand and utilize the power of narrative to establish their message and engage diverse audiences. Storytelling is one of the most powerful, and yet neglected, tools in a social entrepreneur’s arsenal. In fulfillment of our mission to build the capacities of our Fellows, Ashoka Arab World recently designed and convened a dedicated three-day storytelling training for our community of Fellows and their peers in Africa, acknowledging storytelling as a signature strength among leaders in the social sector.

From May 3rd to May 5th, 2018, Ashoka Arab World convened 11 leading social entrepreneurs (Ashoka Fellows) from Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Morocco, Jordan, Palestine and Ghana to discover new perspectives and strategies for telling their stories of social change. Ashoka Arab World was proud to host and engage two Fellows from Ashoka Africa. Since its inception, Ashoka Arab World has strived to trigger a south-south movement for social entrepreneurs to exchange experience and know-how, and build cross-country initiatives.

After two days of tailored capacity building, exercises, and peer learning around communication and connection, participating Ashoka Fellows shared their curated stories to an audience of Ashoka Arab World’s community partners and peers in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.





Here’s what our Fellows had to say about the experience.

“Looking into peoples’ eyes will never be the same to me ever. Thank you so much, Ashoka. Thank you to all of the Fellows.”

Nada Dhaif, Bahrain





“When I received this invitation to participate in a storytelling training with Fellows from Ashoka Arab World, I was thinking, ‘What will I expect? I haven’t engaged this part of the world much. Will they be able to relate to us?’ I got here and I just felt the positive energy around all the people here… I learned a lot. I’m more grounded because I can tell my story without losing my breath. I can tell my story more confidently. I am so grateful for this experience, and I’m going away not only with the learning, but with new friends. I’m looking forward to the future together with Fellows from Ashoka Arab World.” 
Jennifer Brock, Ghana

“If you want to create your own story, don’t give someone your pen. Hold your pen and write your own story.”

Balsam Al Alyoub, Kuwait

I learned how to tell my story in a unique way and to be true to the story.  I’m going to take back all the lessons I learned and teach the girls and the children in my program how to be able to find their voice and tell their own stories.”

Regina Agyare, Ghana

“As social entrepreneurs, we have been often talked about as inspiring people, or successful, but it is very hard sometimes to be able to find the inner motivation or the inner story that drives each one of us. I think this workshop was very enlightening for me in order to understand other people’s stories and to reflect on my own story, and to know how these stories, if woven together, can create a better map for ourselves.”

Adnane Addioui, Morocco

This retreat was facilitated by trainers and coaches Ien Vanduijnhoven and Valentijn Ouwens, who travelled from Amsterdam to deliver this unique experience.

Ien van Duijnhoven has been working as a trainer, facilitator and coach for over 20 years. During her professional life as an actor, Ien became very interested in business development and personal development and the dynamics between the two. With her roots in theater, she stimulates organizations and people to take their role, their position, and their stature, and play with it. From her Gestalt background she invites people to be aware of their energy: when they are sparkling and when they are feeling empty. She is connected to THNK International School of Creative Leadership as a Leadership Coach.

Valentijn Ouwens studied at the Drama Academy and worked as an actor for years. Beyond this, he studied Law and has been busy with Psychology and Philosophy. He has worked as a trainer, coach and consultant in the areas of personal and leadership development. Valentijn has been connected to de Baak, a well-known center for programs in leadership and entrepreneurship in the Netherlands. He is also connected to THNK as a Leadership Coach. As a trainer and coach, he works with individuals, groups and organizations to leverage people’s capacities within their organizations and enable them to efficiently and effectively apply their talents. His work methods integrate a strong focus on forming a clear view of one’s own qualities and possibilities – both the strong and the weak elements, and one’s own behavioral patterns that support or hinder one’s efforts.