Maher Bushra

Ashoka Fellow
Fellow Since 2004
Better Life Association for Comprehensive Development


This profile was prepared when Maher Bushra was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
The informal sector is a key segment of the Egyptian economy, currently employing about 40 percent of the labor force and expected to employ fully half of new entrants to the labor force over the next 20 years. By focusing on quarry workers—among the most exploited workers in the informal economy—Maher tackles neglect and abuse in their strongest forms. Through years of work, he has built a model for organization and advocacy among quarry workers that will serve as a tool to secure rights and services for the millions of workers who make their living in the informal sector.
Maher has shown a talent for balancing the interests of all stakeholders in the informal economy. He lobbies the government and reaches out to the general public. He helps quarry workers connect with each other, learn their rights, and organize for safer working conditions, job security, and compensation to their families in case of accidental injury or death. He reaches employers, providing tax and legal advice, along with practical suggestions to improve worker safety. He works on one hand to support the power of employees to articulate their demands, and on the other to educate employers about how reforms and advances can meet their interests. Through this he builds a rapport between employers and employees that drives collaborative development of greater protections.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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