Marwa El-Daly

Ashoka Fellow
Cairo, Egypt
Fellow Since 2008


This profile was prepared when Marwa El-Daly was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Looking at almost two generations of reliance on external, donor-driven development aid and the collapse of indigenous philanthropy, Marwa concluded that support of Egypt’s deeply rooted, but largely lost tradition of giving provides a way to institutionalize sustainable local resources to meet local priorities. Her analysis of the field of giving led to the insight that broad and deep promotion of the long-neglected history of organized giving is possible by deploying modern business techniques and emphasizing development rather than charity. Marwa’s idea is grounded on a comprehensive and sophisticated appreciation of the social, institutional, and national policy elements necessary for the revival of philanthropy based on the cultural heritage of the waqf, or trust. To work, it must include an informed citizenry at home and abroad, and molding favorable public opinion of the modern waqf model. A second critical component is the actual establishment of the first modern model of the waqf (waqfeya) to demonstrate and examine successful methods of establishing waqfs in local communities. A third component comprises two parts: Exploration in the management of the trust, and gaining the interest and involvement of business partners, citizen organizations (COs), media, and public figures who will be able to replicate the model in other areas.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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