Mohammed Al-Bakri

Ashoka Fellow
Saudi Arabia
Fellow Since 2016


This profile was prepared when Mohammed Al-Bakri was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2016.
The New Idea
Muhammad has led a nationwide effort to professionalize volunteerism in Saudi Arabia since 2009, called YIG. Through this, he is encouraging professionals and the youth to participate in community-led initiatives through customizing sustainable development frameworks such as Theory of Change and Design Thinking. He trains the volunteers on these frameworks and enables them to execute their initiatives in partnership with local NGOs. These initiatives included un-used food re-distribution initiatives (such as Iftar Sayem) an Arabic word that means feeding those who fast in English”) as well as renovation of old weary houses owned by the poor (such as Mofta7 “an Arabic word that means key in English”) which was carried out under Majid Society’s Volunteering Program which was in turn designed by YIG

A key component of Muhammad’s work is how he empowers children to tackle communi-ty/societal level problems. He sees them as young, responsible citizens who are able to naturally mobilize resources to tackle these issues. Children from the YIG work in this program as YIG ambassadors who help Muhammed in the logistics and operations of this program. Muhammad’s work plays out two fold. On one hand, he has a “Young Volunteer Program” where he works with children from relatively high socioeconomic backgrounds in order to teach principles of volunteerism, leadership, and teamwork. He as well raises their awareness of their rights as volunteers for a sustainable community mobilization. These children then serve as ambassadors to his organization to promote the sense of community mobilization towards solving pressing socioeconomic problems. He has also developed a “community development program” where he works with “unprivileged children” to learn the principles of human centered design. This approach empowers the children to address their community problems by developing scalable prototypes/ solutions. In YIG’s community development program, children from poor neighborhoods design their own prototypes to solve their own problems

The third element of Muhammad’s idea is to bring about long term social change through shifting the Saudi mindset towards philanthropy. Currently, it is geared towards charity to social entrepreneurship. Muhammad is directing the financial and human resources of the Saudis that are sporadically put in use towards systematized approach in order to solve pressing social problems such as poverty. The latter takes place by connecting youth, the government, and grant making foundations through legislative frameworks.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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