Kamel Al Asmar is promoting volunteerism in a structured and professional way in the Levant by encouraging youth to volunteer and create change in their communities. Through the use of a website, networking initiatives, training citizen organizations on volunteer management, and an online assessment system, Kamel is strengthening the culture of volunteerism in the region.

This profile below was prepared when Kamel Al Asmar was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2012.


Kamel Al Asmar is promoting volunteerism in a structured and professional way in the Levant by encouraging youth to volunteer and create change in their communities. Through the use of a website, networking initiatives, training citizen organizations on volunteer management, and an online assessment system, Kamel is strengthening the culture of volunteerism in the region.


Kamel is professionalizing volunteerism in the Levant using a methodical approach that makes volunteering accessible to youth (aged 18 to 36); equipping them with the tools to create meaningful change in their communities. Through personal experience and observation, Kamel realized that the concept of volunteerism in the Arab world is not strong. In 2009 he created Nakhweh, an online and offline social venture solely dedicated to encouraging volunteerism and innovation by nurturing the current climate around volunteerism. 

Kamel’s three-pronged approach tackles the two largest actors in volunteerism: citizen organizations (COs) and potential volunteers, namely youth. Kamel’s training and assessment initiative provides COs with the tools to effectively attract and manage volunteers. Often unaware that volunteer opportunities exist, youth have had little to no exposure to volunteering. Kamel’s website advertises volunteerism in a professional manner, and his exciting on-the-ground initiatives and events engage youth on a personal level. 

The expressive name is inspired by an Arabic song, “El Dameer El Araby” (The Arab Conscious) which expresses the “Nakhweh” of people in the Arab world; their chivalry and bravery, qualities long engrained in Arab culture but somewhat lost over the years. Capitalizing on this sentiment and the positive energy in the region and hunger for change, Kamel’s idea “connects hearts to change the world.” 


The concept of volunteerism in the Arab region has not been professionalized in a way that engrains it in modern culture. There are several reasons for this, such as a general lack of information on volunteerism for youth, and the inadequacy of COs to promote and manage volunteerism. 

Kamel has addressed the absence of credible and useful information concerning volunteerism in the region, both on the web and on the ground. Youth in particular are generally unaware of volunteer opportunities in their communities. Before Kamel started his initiative, he conducted a study of 161 university students and found that almost half of the sample were interested in volunteering but did not find a suitable opportunity. Through his website, Kamel promotes the concept of volunteerism, and provides an extensive database of potential volunteer opportunities.

Kamel’s survey indicated that for every student who was aware of volunteerism, another student was unfamíliar with the concept. Youth oblivious to volunteerism will not search for opportunities to volunteer online; in response, Kamel engaged in events and initiatives that connect young people with the concept of volunteerism. 

Kamel focused on the mismanagement of volunteerism within COs. Again, due to a lack of information about volunteers and volunteerism in the region, the majority of COs do not encourage youth to become volunteers for their initiatives. As such, there is no culture of managing volunteers. This troublesome cycle means that there is no incentive to either find volunteers, or to learn how to properly manage and train them. Kamel tackles this through his monitoring and assessment tools that equip COs with the knowledge and training needed to adequately manage volunteers. 


Kamel’s three-pronged strategy succinctly professionalizes the concept of volunteerism and advertises it in the region. Kamel diffuses information about volunteerism, improves the way that COs manage volunteers, and directly engages youth to understand the potential they have to create change in their communities. Through untraditional methods, Kamel is creating a culture of volunteerism in the region. 

Kamel spreads information on and promotes volunteerism through his website, Nakhweh.org, which acts as a portal for organizations to post their work, campaigns, and volunteer opportunities. COs can easily search for qualified volunteers and youth can apply to suitable opportunities. Ashoka Fellow Raghda Boutros, for example, relies heavily on the website to recruit volunteers. In addition, the Nakhweh blog provides information about volunteerism, social entrepreneurship, and corporate social responsibility (CSR) in the Arab world by sharing news, stories, and articles. Kamel’s platform features more than 150 volunteering opportunities, more than 100 organizations, and a database of more than 8,000 volunteers.

Kamel works directly with COs to provide social media and volunteer training and assessment tools so that they are better equipped to manage volunteers. Kamel provides COs with advice on how to utilize social media to increase their reach to different target groups. He assists organizations in a mutually beneficial way, to enhance the experience of their volunteers. This makes it worthwhile to the volunteer in terms of specialized skills building, technical or qualitative. Through this assessment, the organization is better able to identify the strengths and weaknesses of a volunteer. Kamel bolsters his specialized volunteer matching program by conducting a needs-based assessment service to thoroughly understand the priorities of each organization.

An innovative part of Kamel’s CO management strategy is an online assessment tool that allows volunteers to provide feedback and commentary on their experiences. These commentaries are available to the public. This encourages COs to work harder to properly manage and train their volunteers, so as to enhance a volunteer’s experience. This system of checks and balances has never before been used in Arab COs, and will undoubtedly push organizations to continually improve. 

Kamel engages youth directly, both on and offline, to teach them about volunteerism and to encourage them to realize their potential to create change. He organizes social media workshops in major cities and remote areas to educate youth about the uses and benefits of social media channels. Workshops in remote villages connect youth to nearby Internet centers to expose them to others working on social issues within their community and across the region. Through the use of social media channels, Kamel has launched various campaigns to encourage youth to come up with new ideas and to share inspiring volunteer success stories. 

To sustain his initiative, Kamel offers basic services to COs for free and additional services at a fee to COs and companies. All revenues are re-invested into Kamel’s venture; no profit is used for personal gain. Since the private sector is not his main target group, but partners, he offers advanced services at a cost so he can support COs. The main purpose of charging some fees for advanced services, such as additional CV search options and social media training, is to cover the costs of operating Nakhweh and minimize dependency on external funding. Kamel helps companies adopt and design CSR programs that benefit both the community and the company. Private companies CRS programs increase their involvement by supporting and funding youth to become more equal partners in the development process. 

In the next five years, Kamel will continue his support and outreach to young people and community-based organizations, while solidifying his partnerships with private sector companies. He has the expertise to provide these companies with CSR programs, implementing online charitable gifts, franchising social media campaigns, volunteer management training, and offering social media workshops, with the goal of creating a trustful connection with the local community in which they work. Kamel’s goal is to evolve his platform into a hub that connects all Arab world actors under a common vision to create meaningful social change through the empowerment of youth. 


Kamel was born in Kuwait and raised in Jordan the age of seven. Believing that education extends beyond the classroom, he initiated his informal education by becoming involved in extracurricular activities, freelance projects, and volunteerism. Kamel’s first volunteer experience, working with special needs children, was particularly inspiring and pushed him to help others to make a difference and share similar experiences. This led him to create a Facebook group, Volunteer Jordan, to bridge the gap between social actors and opportunites in society.

After graduating from the Faculty of Computer Science, Kamel worked for akhtaboot.com, an online career network. As a passionate entrepreneur he used the technology he created and his expertise to start his own company, which proved to be the first seed of his media tool Nakhweh. After gaining some experience and exposure to social entrepreneurship, Kamel decided to dedicate himself full-time to his idea and registered Nakhweh as a CO in early 2011, despite resistance from his family; concerned about him leaving a stable job. 

Kamel’s successes led him to become a Fellow of the King Abdullah Award, a 2006 finalist of the Queen Rania National Entrepreneurship Competition and a “Global Shaper” for the World Economic Forum (during the latest meeting at the Dead Sea on employment and job creation) in the Arab world (October 2011).