Friday, December 18, 2009

Thoughts from the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards is the premier award for students that own and run businesses while attending a college or university.

As we have mentioned before, one of our students was one of the 30 finalists at the Global Student Entrepreneur Awards - and was one of just THREE women!

Ms. Maria Mahdaly was happy to share with us a few thoughts on her experience at the event:

When I was getting ready for the GSEA competition, I spent day and night preparing the perfect presentation, the strongest pitch, and the polishing up my written report. I aspired to win and actually thought I had a chance. However, when I arrived in Kansas City at The Kauffman Foundation, the largest foundation devoted to entrepreneurship, and started talking to the other competitors about themselves and their ventures it was clear that some were more experienced. They had achieved more and overcome a lot of challenges and obstacles. It hit me that I would not win.

As the Chinese proverb says: "A wise man learns from experience, a wiser man learns from the experience of others." Looking back now, being around all of those smart, successful, inspiring, young entrepreneurs from 27 different countries and seeing the passion and drive each one has was incredibly inspirational. Each and every one of us is facing the similar challenges and struggles in making our businesses successful. On top of that, we also have to worry about doing homework and excelling in our college educations. I took the opportunity to learn from the experiences of my peers and from the judges, and absorb as much knowledge as I could.

I urge and encourage every aspiring young entrepreneur to take advantage of every situation he/she may come across to learn and benefit. I read once that “the greatest difference between entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs is that non-entrepreneurs never actually give it a try.”

So if you have something that you’re really excited to do and you're passionate about, do it and follow your dreams.

I did not win, but I did come home a winner.

Bravo Maria - we wish you continuing success.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Social media used to mobilize Jeddah

A few thoughts from one of our Dar Al Hekma students, Alaa Al-Mizyen, on the utility of social media in crisis situations:

In the wake of one of the most hard-hitting flash flood disasters to strike Jeddah in decades, social unions, youth groups, and charity organizations have sprouted overnight with the sole mission of shedding light upon this unfortunate occurrence. Some chose to deal with the flood aftermath in scrutiny and backlash, while others hung their heads low in grief and resonating heartaches…and then, there were those who heeded to the silent cries of the city’s inhabitants.

The message to be spread was loud and clear – help was needed, and it was needed immediately. Facebook groups with the mission of providing support to those afflicted by the flash floods were created instantly, with one such group obtaining approximately 30,000 members within a matter of days. Twitter and Watwet chirps echoed calls to action. Youtube and Flickr became the city’s visual podium – new social media, with its ability to reach the masses within seconds, lit a spirit of camaraderie and benevolence amongst the community. Volunteer groups were formed overnight with people heading over to the Jeddah Exhibition Center to help pack relief kits and sort donated goods. Men with 4x4s trekked out to the damage sites in search of stranded survivors. Collective efforts were pitched in almost instantaneously and I couldn’t help but recall how the infinite advantages of new social media were stressed upon during module I, and again in module II, of the US-Saudi Women’s Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.

We are living through a fruitful era, an era that is marked by unvarying connectedness and globalization. If applying new social media to your social enterprise seems trivial, just take a look at how it brought together a whole city during a time of despair. Discover a need, uphold a cause, throw it out into a networking media tool and you’ll reach thousands, impact millions, and help the world rid itself of one predicament at a time.

post by: Alaa Al-Mizyen
Co-founder of GreenJeddah
Creator of Arabian Pop

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Who wants to be Unreasonable?

We've featured the Unreasonable Institute on our blog in the past, but I wanted to share a recent video which 2 of the co-founders put together.

In the video, these young entrepreneurs lay out their summer institute, and the characteristics that they are looking for in their applicants.


Behind the Scenes with Unreasonable Institute Co-Founders from Teju Ravilochan on Vimeo.

***Forum ladies: let me know if you are interested in applying- applications are due December 15th.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Global Student Entrepreneur Awards

The Global Student Entrepreneur Awards were held last week in Kansas City, MO, and are a program of the Entrepreneur's Organization.

Our very own Maria Mahdaly was representing Saudi Arabia!

Stay tuned, as Maria shares with us her experience and thoughts on the event.

Friday, November 20, 2009

A new kind of awareness "campaign"

The "pink glove dance" was filmed by people in the medical community, aiming to raise breast cancer awareness.

It's a cute idea and I just had to share it:

More about breast cancer advocacy in the Middle East

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Be Unreasonable!

The Unreasonable Institute's name comes from a quote by George Bernard Shaw:

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man [and woman]."

This group of 4 young men, believe in "unreasonable people" - "those who are just crazy enough to ignore the skeptics, who remain undeterred by persistent failure, and who, above all, are convinced they can change the world." (from their website)

This "unreasonable" quality is one of the things that they look for when selecting the top 25 fellows. Fellowship applications are currently being accepted- APPLY!

Check out the EnvisionGood interview with 2 of the founders:

Transcript HERE.

More Info:
what they believe.
the 2010 summer institute.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Project 7 is "...a consumer goods company passionate about social change and dedicated to addressing the seven most critical areas of need in the world today, as determined by Project 7—Build the Future, Feed the Hungry, Heal the Sick, Help those in Need, Hope for Peace, House the Homeless, and Save the Planet. No matter people’s political affiliations or background, these seven issues strike a chord in the very fiber of mankind..."

Project 7 Mission Statement from Project 7 on Vimeo.

Project 7 takes more than 50 percent of profits from its products to create a "community piggy-bank".

Throughout the year, the company collects applications from nonprofits that benefit one of the seven causes, and selects three finalists for each. Project 7 consumers then vote online for the organizations they feel should receive proceeds collected from consumer purchases throughout the year.

In total, Project 7 supports seven different charities, each representing one of the seven areas of need in our world.

Project 7 website

Monday, November 2, 2009

Young Leaders Visitors Program

The Swedish Institute Young Leaders Visitors Program (YLVP) is an intercultural leadership program with focus on social media as a tool for progress. The program targets youth from Sweden and countries in the Middle East and North Africa who are actively working for social progress in their respective contexts, through innovative online initiatives.

For the full version of the video click HERE.

This seems like a very interesting program-
Students: do you think something like this could be useful to youth in Saudi Arabia?

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Infographic on World Literacy Rates between 1970 - 2005

Infographics are incredibly useful in conveying a complex issue through a visual representation. Check out other creative infographics on!

Always remember...

"Brick walls are there to show us how much we want something."
- Proverb

Monday, October 26, 2009

Feast on THIS.

All Day Buffet's brilliant and increasingly popular conference: "Feast on Good "

"The Feast Conference gathers the world's greatest innovators from across industries and society to empower, inspire and engage each other in creating world-shaking change." (Feast website)

Watch the talks HERE.

And Forum students: Guess who they're sponsored by? GRASSHOPPER... (need a reminder? see the video below.)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Funding through Fundable.

Funding is one of the most significant challenges to giving an idea wings.

A new website - - attempts to provide a solution.

The site provides individuals with an online fundraising platform, and has already shown an impact.

Excerpt from the website:

Online fundraising doesn't have to be hard. Whether you're raising money from hundreds of supporters or just friends and family, Fundable lets you fundraise quickly and effectively. Need to do a fundraiser for something big like an independent film or an unexpected vet bill? People with no prior experience have raised over $10,000 in weeks and so can you!

Need ideas on how to word your fundraiser? Browse through the "finished" fundraising pages to see how other people raised money. These examples can be your blueprint to fundraising success. The best way to raise money is always the same -- ask the people you know who share your goals.

Never raised money online before? Don't worry! Our fundraising platform takes care of all the details. Credit card processing and accounting happen on their own behind the scenes so you can just focus on directing your supporters to your page to raise money. Your fundraiser will be a success with Fundable because Fundable is made for online fundraising.

More on Fundable

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Green Jeddah: Blog launch!

One of the six student groups from the US-Saudi Women's Forum on Social Entrepreneurship has launched its blog:

A bit about Green Jeddah:
"Launched in July 2009, Green Jeddah addresses the lack of awareness with regards to environmental conservation within the city of Jeddah during a time of extensive industrialization and climate change. GJ is ultimately differentiated and driven by Islamic ideologies towards ecological preservation and waste management. So what are you waiting for? Live and let live - join us in our green movement!"

If you find any interesting stories, photos, studies, or emerging technologies, please send them along to:

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Fun Theory.

Speaking of innovation- one of our students found this video:

After some research, we can find that Volkswagen is behind it. They have launched a new campaign called "The Fun Theory" - a series of experiments, captured on video, to find out if making the world more fun can improve people’s behavior.

Some of their "experiments" so far:

  • does turning a set of subway stairs into a real-life piano encourage people to use them?
  • does making a trash can sound like a 50ft-deep well will make people pick up their trash?
  • does turning a bottle recycling center into an arcade game encourage people to recycle?

Here's the trash can video:

More about the FUN THEORY

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"Disruptive" Innovation

Read about the Theory of Disruptive Innovation below.


"Disruptive innovations either create new markets or reshape existing markets by delivering relatively simple, convenient, low-cost innovations to a set of customers who are ignored by industry leaders. Historically, companies that dominate an industry have had little interest in pursuing these types of innovations because profit margins are often lower and the innovations don't address the needs of those companies' best customers. However, companies that have recognized the value in pursuing disruptive growth -- such as Intel, Procter and Gamble, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson, Dow Corning and IBM -- have all profited from this type of innovation at various points in their histories."
(from the Innosight Ventures website)

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Get ready.

Vacation is over, and it's time to really get these projects going.

Students, are you ready to get your hands dirty?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mentoring Young Social Entrepreneurs

The co-founder of Unreasonable Institute discusses his organization's approach to mentoring young social entrepreneurs.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Sustainable Tourism in Wadi Rum

In the village of Al Dieseh in Jordan, nine young Bedouin women are unleashing their creative skills and earning an income. They are members of the Al Dieseh Cooperative, which is producing ceramics to sell to locals and tourists who come to see the famous desert landscape of Jordan's Wadi Rum protected area.

The project, also known as Siyaha, is working with the Jordanian government, local communities, NGOs, and tourism-related groups such as the cooperative, to develop a dynamic and competitive tourism industry.

Could this type of model be applied to Saudi Arabia? Even though international tourism is not common in the Kingdom, could domestic tourism benefit from this type of venture?

Monday, September 21, 2009

How Talented Women Thrive

"Centered Leadership" - a new approach to leadership being explored by McKinsey.

The hypothesis? That today's leaders can become even more effective through the model of centered leadership- which is exactly what it sounds like... bringing together the physical, intellectual, emotional, and spiritual strength that drives personal achievement and inspiring others to follow.

Below is a summary of the 12-page article. *The ideas below are taken directly from the McKinsey Quarterly article.

After interviewing more than 85 women leaders from around the world (and a few men), their research team came up with a leadership model made up of 5 dimensions:
  1. MEANING- finding your strengths and putting them to work in the service of inspiring purpose
  2. MANAGING ENERGY- knowing where your energy comes from, where it goes, and what you can do to manage it
  3. POSITIVE FRAMING- adopting a more constructive way to view your world, expand your horizons, and gain the resilience to move ahead even when bad things happen
  4. CONNECTING - identifying who can help you grow, building stronger relationships, and increasing your sense of belonging
  5. ENGAGING- finding your voice, becoming self-reliant and confident by accepting opportunities and the inherent risks they bring, and collaborating with others.
The McKinsey research team calls this "centered leadership" and, although it also works for men, has focused most on the ways women can actively build the skills to become more self-confident and effective leaders.

The concept emphasizes the role of positive emotions, and focuses on some of the characteristics that tend to distinguish women from men in the workplace, including:
  • Women tend "opt-out" of work more than men do
  • Women tend to take on a "double-burden" (motherhood and management), that drains energy in a particularly challenging way
  • Women tend to experience emotional ups & downs more often and intensely than most men do.
Fun fact: Apparently, after concentrating on women participants, the team was approached by many men who wanted "what the women were having."

I like this study already.

***all information above was taken from the article in the McKinsey Quarterly.

DOWNLOAD the entire article HERE.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

What is Entrepreneurship?

Babson professor, Dr. Zacharakis, discusses what entrepreneurship is to him. He also addresses the relationship between entrepreneurship and economic (and social) development.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Nurturing Innovation

I came across a great article on innovation in the McKinsey Quarterly, and have included an excerpt below:

In the early 1990s, a seasoned executive shared a metaphor that has stayed with me ever since: he said that innovation is like a coral reef. Marine biologists don’t fully understand what causes reefs to form, he said, but we do know that human actions can nurture or harm the process. The same is true for innovation—a natural, chaotic, unpredictable process that is hard, perhaps even impossible, for well-meaning outsiders to foster. If we try to control or micromanage innovation, we risk squeezing out the very life forces that give rise to successful new ideas. Instead, we must focus on finding ways to nurture and accelerate the natural processes of innovation once they’ve begun organically...

... Most... default to linear thinking with formal structures to define and control innovation. What we need instead is to turn the forces of innovation loose—to create the right conditions for that reef ecosystem to grow on its own and take hold...

... innovators like these are often disconnected, operating in silos, without the financial resources and strategic support they need to bring their ideas to fruition. They do not swim in a teeming, healthy reef ecosystem...


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

World of Good - Ebay goes Fair Trade

Shop for fair-trade, handmade, and ethically-sources products.

Shouldn't business always be ethically-sourced?

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Women for Women International

Ramadan Kareem and Mubarak to all my friends- I have an interesting organization for you to look into during this time of reflection.

Women in wartime have always been in critical need of support, as women are often the lynch pin of a stable community. In wartime, when the social fabric of society is destroyed, women typically find themselves more vulnerable than ever.

Women for Women International is changing that.

According to their website:

Women for Women International "provides women survivors of war, civil strife and other conflicts with the tools and resources to move from crisis and poverty to stability and self-sufficiency, thereby promoting viable civil societies."

They help women recover from the emotional (and sometimes physical) scars of war, and provide them with financial aid, job training, and leadership education.

Women for Women International has been recognized for their work by:

They have also received the 2006 Conrad Hilton Humanitarian Prize.

And keeping with the Ramadan spirit, you can even SPONSOR a woman- LEARN MORE HERE.

Monday, August 31, 2009

A thought on philanthropy...

"Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropists to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice that make philanthropy necessary."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Social Media Marketing

92% of companies polled said that social media marketing is effective in building their brand reputation.

Source: "Chart of the Week," MarketingSherpa 2009

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Millenial / Gen-Y Entrepreneurs Challenge the Status Quo... with Social Media.

I have been reading an article called "How Gen-Y Startups Use Social Media to Shatter the Status Quo", and thought our readers may be interested. LINK HERE

Below, I have included an excerpt on one of the status-quos being challenged: PROFIT.
My favorite status quo that Gen-Y is challenging is in the fatter pocket department. While bottom lines, quarterly reports and profits are important to Gen-Y startups and entrepreneurs, there is something brewing that is gaining more popularity in Gen-Y companies: changing the world. From proceeds based on profits to community involvement and helping each other grow, Gen-Y is fundamentally under the impression that the world will be a better place if we grow together. Helping our friends, neighbors and those in less fortunate situations create jobs and stimulate their economies can impact the world and help everyone grow their bottom line.
Companies like Kiva (on the cusp on Gen-Y) are using crowdsourcing technology to connect investors with business entrepreneurs (yes, young and old) in developing countries to get off and running. Kiva now finances loans in 48 countries and in June 2009 supplied over $4.6 million in loans

Others, like GiveForward are focused on helping existing non-profits and organizations find funding and make donating a better experience. Co-founder Desiree Vargas says“Generation Y has the opportunity to live their entire career spans expecting to work for companies that treat their employees well, give back to their communities, and create a product or service that brings value to the world.”

New Gen-Y business values are helping to make the entire world a better place to live and do business.

Ladies, this is what you are doing!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Women and Philathropy... "The Power of the Purse"

Another fantastic New York Times article from the New York Times Magazine Special Edition on women's issues around the world:

The article briefly chronicles the history of women's philanthropy and recent trends in the way women give.

Read it HERE

Monday, August 24, 2009

"Half the Sky" - Pulling Women Out of Poverty.

"There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution."

The above quote is from a New York Times Magazine special, featuring an essay adapted from the book "Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide".

Most of the examples of success that are given in the essay, include a dimension of business or small microloans being used to change the life of a woman and her family... and, eventually, her community.

Read more HERE.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

"Our World 2.0 is brought to you by the United Nations University and asks the question: What can we do when faced with complex, inter-connected and pressing problems like climate change, oil depletion, food security and biodiversity? ... In responding to these challenges, innovation will be the key."
- OurWorld 2.0

Keep track of some of the innovations related to climate, oil, food and biodiversity.

Are any of these innovative approaches applicable to environmental issues in Saudi Arabia and/or the broader Gulf region?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

John Chambers, CEO of Cisco, on the Future of Management

"I've always believed those who are most successful owe an obligation to give back. But also- what I can now articulate- it's just plain, good business sense as well."


An excerpt from the interview (McKinsey Quarterly):

Business in society: Public–private partnerships

The Quarterly: Can you talk a little bit about what you see as the role of technology and businesses like yours working with city and national governments?

John Chambers: Okay. I’m going to break it into two pieces. The first is what we see working with governments, in terms of traditional business and how do you really prepare for the future. And the second is more in corporate social responsibility and public–private partnerships, if you will, being, I think, a model for the future around collaboration.
So, to the first part, when you talk about the future, you can talk about smart, connected communities. Intelligent urbanization: 500 million people moving into cities of the future.
Traditional cities: how do they evolve? What I call towns or small communities, and then all the way down to the rural environment.

Let’s just deal with the first one. When you talk to President Lee [Myung-Bak], of South Korea, or Mayor Ahn [Sang-soo], who’s the mayor of Inchon, which is really the economic city built outside of Seoul, they’ll talk about how do you combine a structure with the direction of government; with a developer, really enlightened developer who knows where they’re headed, how they’re doing it; with a Cisco, to be able to say, how do you create perhaps as much as 200,000 sustainable, incremental jobs? How do you contribute as much as somewhere between a half a point to the whole point of GDP growth for all of South Korea? How do you combine an architecture—which addresses everything from green initiatives, smart electricity, productivity, government services such as education and health care—to tie them back to other government services, to intelligent transportation, smart buildings. How do you do this architecturally? And the answer is, intelligent plumbing, combined with a visionary government leader, combined with a developer who would build it in. And that’s able to go all the way down through what’s going on in China and the Middle East, et cetera, and it gives you speed of an ability to move into that area.

You could then transition and say, “Well, John, I didn’t even know you knew what smart grids were.” Well, maybe six months ago I wasn’t even focused on it, but it’s one of our top priorities. And yet here, in a series of positioning, using councils and boards and working groups, we’ve moved from a player often people didn’t associate with smart grids to the top announcement that’s been done—in my opinion, world to date—which was with GE’s leadership and with Florida Power & Light’s leadership, with local government, in terms of the city of Miami, [when they] announced Energy Smart Miami, where they’re going to go in terms of, “How do you really use grid technology to make the cost of electricity over time cheaper for the employees?” To do it in a more environmentally friendly [way], to generate what they said is a 1,500-person job increase just in the one city, that could expand throughout the state and throughout the region? These organization structures allow for speed of change, which did not occur before, but they’re often with groups that have not worked together.

Then, over the corporate social responsibility: your ability to make a difference.

I started in the Middle East with King Abdullah of Jordan, an outgrowth of the World Economic Forum, where King Abdullah said, “John, I need partners to help me transition the country.” When Katrina hit Louisiana and Mississippi: how do we transform the education system? We put $90 million into the area—purely corporate social responsibility—21st-century schools, wiring the areas. Terrible earthquake in Sichuan province: it wasn’t just about giving back. It was, “How do you partner in a way that can change education and government?” We put $45 million into it. I’ve been back there twice physically, including just about three weeks ago, and once virtually.

It is those types of programs that, first, are the right thing. I’ve always believed those who are most successful owe an obligation to give back. But also—what I can now articulate—it’s just plain, good business as well. Wherever we’ve been good on corporate social responsibility, we’re almost always in the top ten places to work, which we are in every major country in the world. But also, the better we are in corporate social responsibility, it’s amazing how it transfers over to business success.

For the entire transcript, CLICK HERE.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Love what you do. Thank you, Pixar.

Cloud - Funny bloopers R us

Don't forget... whatever you do... do it with pride.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Women and Leadership: Learning from the Social Sector

From the McKinsey Quarterly website:

As a venture philanthropist, Acumen Fund’s Jacqueline Novogratz leads entrepreneurial projects across the globe—many of which put women at the helm of emerging local businesses. In this video interview, she discusses her experience developing other women leaders, the way they have shaped her own approach to leadership, and the different leadership cultures she sees at play in the public and private sectors.

This interview was conducted by Bill Javetski, an editor with the McKinsey Quarterly, in February 2009. It was recorded in the New York office of Acumen Fund.

One of my favorite quotes from the interview:

"... the more stressed I got, the less anything worked... but the more we laughed, the more we got done."

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Culture of Peace

"As defined by the United Nations, the Culture of Peace is a set of values, attitudes, modes of behaviour and ways of life that reject violence and prevent conflicts by tackling their root causes to solve problems through dialogue and negotiation among individuals, groups and nations..."

So far, the "Culture of Peace" has obtained 225 signatures from 14 organizations in Saudi Arabia.

There is some potentially useful information on the UNESCO site- including contact information of 3 active private individuals, as well as the Saudi National Commission for UNESCO (in Riyadh), and the UNESCO office in Doha.

Thoughts on how we could do a "Culture of Peace" event in Jeddah?

Monday, August 3, 2009

ImagineThis! TV with a Purpose.

ImagineThis! is a TV series about challenges... and SOLUTIONS. The organization partners with local NGOs in countries around the world to bring stories of those underprivileged to the attention of our society.

Challenge #1? The film crew has ONE week to create an episode.

SocialEarth interviewed Eion, the founder of ImagineThis! TV- he said:

“We both know that there are many, many NGO’s all over the world doing a great job trying to help others, the reason we decided to do ImagineThis is one, to highlight those organizations and the work they do and two, to highlight a new form of consciousnesses towards love and understanding as oppose to fear, separation, hatred, bigotry; the things that divide us. And TV in my estimation is the best and most effective transmitter of information and has the broadest reach to send out a message and it saddens me to see the message most often sent out by TV is destruction. Our message is one of dignity, love, cooperation, humor and joy.”

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Anatomy of an Entrepreneur

Anatomy of an Entrepreneur

PS: You can save this to your computer too- click on "more" and then "save".

Monday, July 27, 2009

Entrepreneurship, alla BBC

Heard of the Dragon's Den?

HINT: It has nothing to do with Harry Potter.

It's a BBC show about average people with entrepreneurial aspirations, who are challenged to "pitch" their ideas to 5 millionaires.

According to the website:

"The pressure of the pitch can get very personal, but the Dragons can sniff out a diamond in the rough and recognize an idea with that extra something special. They have the power to make dreams come true, and if they like the idea they'll invest money from their own pockets."

I'm not sure how I feel about the term "dragons", but regardless... the show seems to have a few interesting lessons in it. The feedback on venture ideas is harsh, and flat out mean at times, but why endure that kind of criticism when you can learn from others... (even if it is over-dramatized for mass-consumption).

The website also offers "Tips for the Pitch" , and a few Q&A sessions with professionals.

Here's a clip:

Friday, July 24, 2009

Green Jeddah!

The final presentations have begun, and one of the groups already has a blog up for their project!

Congratulations on a job well-done!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Students solidify their projects

We are more than half-way through the 2-week Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship at Babson College, and I am happy to say the impact is definitely visible.

Student groups have been working hard on their ventures, and are putting together their action plans. Yesterday we held a "nay-sayers" workshop in which facilitators of the program challenged assumptions, needs-assessments, etc... While it was challenging for students to have to backup and explain their ideas and plans, the projects have emerged stronger than before.

The program will continue to focus today on "Action Plans" and "Business Plans", in preparation for the final two days of the Symposium, which will be focused on finalizing plans and "pitching" projects to the faculty and facilitators.

We are all very excited to hear the final projects!

*Photo courtesy of Emily Tavoulareas, ICF International

Monday, July 20, 2009


A great model, and resource!


Virgance is a company that seeks to promote campaigns using market-based methods that are effective, transparent, profitable, and scalable. They do online organizing to create offline positive change that is direct and tangible.

website -
blog -

I'm adding both of these to our "related links & resources" section.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Social Earth

Great site and resource!

And the Forum is on the front of their website!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Should all business be ethical or socially focused?

As a follow-up to the debate that we had today on whether or not all entrepreneurship was SOCIAL... see the video below, done by ClearlySo (referenced in an earlier post today), in the U.K.

ClearlySo - Social Business

Great resource!!!

I have added the link to "related links and resources" section in the left column of the blog.

The beauty of virtual communities...

12 countries created this virtually... who doesn't love social media?

Symposium, Day 2

Day 2 of the Symposium began with this:

We're off to a great start.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Symposium Launch

The Symposium has officially begun!

The program began over the weekend with a lively introduction to the campus and a film project in downtown Boston. Classes began on Monday, and were focused on splitting the students into the project groups that they will remain in through December.

Stay tuned for updates on the Symposium as it unfolds.

You can also follow us on twitter: @EmilyTav and #ussaudiforum

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship

The time has finally come. Tomorrow morning I leave for Boston, where I will be linking up with all our partners and 30 students from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for the 2-week Symposium on Social Entrepreneurship.

I just wanted to take a moment and thank everyone that has made this program what it is, and I look forward to seeing what all the students will accomplish following the Symposium at Babson College.

The Symposium will be taking place on the Babson campus for the next 2 weeks, and is being implemented by Babson College, the Wellesley Centers for Women, and ICF International in partnership with the Middle East Partnership Initiative.

Stay tuned for ongoing updates during the Symposium- and join us for discussion in the comment sections!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Facebook in the Kingdom

Minister Abdulaziz Khoja, Saudi Minister of Information, and a former Saudi Ambassador to Turkey, Russia, Morocco and Lebanon... has a facebook page.

Yes... a facebook page.

I hesitate to dive into all the hype surrounding "new media" and "web 2.0" as a revolutionary tool, but this move undeniably sends a significant message: Saudi Arabia, a country which has a track-record of blocking and restricting access to these types of sites in the past, now has an Information Minister who is embracing the networking site and using it to communicate with the public. HOW it will be used remains to be seen, but so far the minister has communicated with the public about emergency situations, and even conducted online interviews.

This seems to signify that the ministry is finally taking online communications seriously- a move in the right direction, as the Saudi public clearly has something to say. Doubtful? Check out the "Saudi Bloggers" social network (hosted on - a social network that brings together bloggers from Saudi Arabia.

Faisal J. Abbas, London-based International Arab Affairs and Media Commentator for the Huffington Post, did a quick Facebook-interview with the Minister, who explained why he decided to join Facebook:

I felt the need to reach out to the young generation and to speak the same language they do... Since we live in the age of communication I felt the need to cope with all the technological advancement, and finally King Abdullah orders us to serve the people in every way possible

What does this mean for youth in Saudi Arabia? What does this mean for the future of communications-transparency-public diplomacy-etc... in Saudi Arabia? I guess we shall see...

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Find Your Mission

Salesian Missions "focuses on rebuilding lives and helping young people become self-sufficient by learning a trade that will help them gain employment, which in turn builds communities."

While diverse in nature and location, Salesian Missions focuses on the following areas/issues:
  • Youth Education and Trade Schools
  • Infrastructure and Capacity Building
  • Health Services
  • Emergency Relief
  • Women Empowerment
  • Homeless Youth
  • Refugee Camps and Displaced Populations
  • Youth Clubs
  • Food Security Programs
What's your mission?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lingerie Lessons in Jeddah

A group of 26 mostly Saudi women completed a course on how to fit, stock and sell underwear, in hopes that this type of training would help boost a campaign to lift the ban on women selling lingerie in the kingdom.

After 40 hours of instruction, using bras donated by Victoria's Secret, the women held a ceremony at Dar Al Hekma College in Jeddah on Tuesday. How did Victoria's Secret find out about this push in Saudi Arabia? Facebook. Once again, smart use of open-source tools can build networks that were previously near impossible to build.

The 10-day training course occured just three months after the launch of a campaign to boycott lingerie stores until they employ women. The aim of the boycott? Simply the implementation of an existing law (passed in 2006) which says only female staff can be employed in women's colthing stores.

According to Reem Asaad (a finance lecturer at the college and the main force behind the boycott campaign) the course was the idea of Dr. Suhair al-Qurashi, Dean of Dar al-Hekma College.

"She wanted the training to be a part of the solution because the industry was complaining that there's a lack of qualified (women) in the market who can run and manage lingerie stores," said Asaad. "So we covered fitting and technical issues, we covered selling and handling customer complaints."

British consul-general of Jeddah, Kate Rudd, attended the ceremony to show her support.

An interesting quote...


I love the art of business. Business gets a bad name because companies sometimes do unscrupulous things. Companies are not bad, people are bad. Long-lasting businesses are built around creating value for others. Real entrepreneurship is an art. It is creating something from nothing... Related to the first two passions, I value authenticity in people. Too many people try to impress others by faking sophistication, experience or skills. I want to connect with real people doing real things they believe in.

- John Bardos, JetsetCitizen:

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Change the Way You Think... About Everything.

Michelle Obama on the National Health Care Day of Service

I wanted to share with everyone an email that I got from Michelle Obama's team about the National Health Care Day of Service:

Emily -

National and community service has been a cornerstone of my life, as I know it has been for many Americans. And with the daily struggles now confronting so many families, it's especially important for us to reach out to one another and offer a helping hand.

I've just launched United We Serve, a national initiative to tackle our toughest problems by working hand-in-hand in communities across the country. We aim to make a real difference right now and bring more and more Americans into a tradition of life-long service to make an even greater difference down the road.

I'd like to invite you to be a part of it by joining Organizing for America's National Health Care Day of Service this weekend. You can join up with other local OFA supporters to help improve health care services in your community and make a difference as we work to reform America's health care system.

Sign up now to participate in a National Health Care Day of Service event this Saturday, June 27th.

There's an old Thomas Edison quote I've always liked:
"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."

It's no secret that our country faces some enormous challenges right now, and meeting them will take a lot of hard work. But in that work lies an equally great opportunity -- a chance to serve. And I do believe the chance to serve is a precious gift indeed.

Service has played a transformative role in my life -- bringing me tremendous joy and helping me find the path that led to where I am today. As a parent, I believe service is a great way to demonstrate values and to teach our children firsthand what it means to commit to a purpose beyond ourselves.

It should be a part of everyone's life. From the moment someone can walk to the day they leave this planet, service should be a part of how we give back, how we say thank you, how we express our gratitude for the lives that we've been given.

So I'm deeply honored for this chance to support our United We Serve initiative and Organizing for America, and I hope you'll be able to participate this weekend. Please sign up now to volunteer at a local event:

Thank you,
First Lady Michelle Obama

King Abdullah II Awards Youth Innovators for Community Projects

During the closing ceremony of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East (held at the Dead Sea from 15-17 May 2009), King Abdullah II of Jordan honored four winners out of ten outstanding Arab youth finalists for leading pioneering efforts in their communities to improve people’s lives.

The winners of the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement were:
  • Rabee Zureikat, 29, Jordan - Project aims to promote greater equality through volunteerism, cultural exchanges and micro-loans
  • Lana Hijazi, 27, Palestine - Launched a mobile-based service matching job seekers and employers
  • Abdelkareem Bedri, 22, Sudan - Works with the hearing impaired to increase learning and employment opportunities among this vulnerable group
  • Raghda El Ebrashy, 26, Egypt - A YouthActionNet ® Global Fellow, who addresses the economic needs of youth and women in Old Cairo by offering them vocational training and job placement support.

The awards program was launched by the King Abdullah II Fund for Development (KAFD) in partnership with the International Youth Foundation (IYF) to support young social entrepreneurs in the Arab World.

KAFD was supported throughout the award process by YouthActionNet®, which is the International Youth Foundation’s youth leadership initiative that has provided 140 young leaders from 55 countries with capacity building and leadership training through its global fellowship program.

To learn more about the finalists, click here
For more information on IYF’s YouthActionNet program, click here

Monday, June 15, 2009

Thoughts from Dr. Jan!

As we prepare for the quickly approaching Symposium at Babson, I wanted to share with you something Dr. Jan shared on the Women's Leadership blog:

So many of the things I thought I "knew" about that part of the world turned out to be either totally outdated, just plain myths, or often very Western interpretations of the reality.  

We hope that we will continue to learn from and about each other at the Symposium, and beyond. 

Sunday, June 14, 2009

True Hero

True Hero is a nonprofit that awards a total of $20,000 to public service projects carried out by high school and college students. Users generate most of the web-based organization’s content.

You can follow True Heroes on Facebook, too.

The organization was started by Mike Merriman, a former CEO of Royal Appliance Manufacturing in Cleveland, Ohio, after traveling to Honduras with his son’s high school class to build an orphanage.

Mr. Merriman’s True Hero organization enables student projects to receive votes, and awards funding annually to the projects that receive the most votes.

This voting cycle ends June 30, 2009, so check out the site, vote for the projects, and add your own community service project!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Middle East Regional Social Entrepreneurs 2009- Schwab Foundation

Two social entrepreneurs from the Middle East have been recognized by the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship as winners of the Middle East Regional Social Entrepreneurs 2009.  The winners (listed below) were honored at an awards ceremony in Jordan at the end of May.  (information below from the Schwab Foundation website)

Naif Al MutawaTeshkeel Media Group (”THE 99”) –  Kuwait 


Teshkeel Media Group is focused on creating wholesome new children’s adventures 

through its proprietary superheroes, “THE 99”. Drawing upon global history, culture and traditions, its aim is to provide positive and inspirational role models for children that are inspired by Islam albeit on a global level. THE 99 are superheroes from 99 countries that work together to improve the world with story lines that promote diversity, multiculturalism, personal responsibility and personal accountability. THE 99 comics have been licensed in 8 languages with editions in Indonesia, Turkey, France, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal already, with other countries soon to be included. THE 99 Village theme park – the first of six – recently opened in Jahra, Kuwait and a global animation project co-Produced with media giant Endemol is poised to hit the airwaves by the end of 2009.  


Ziad Al RefaiTamweelcom  – Jordan 


Tamweelcom is the Middle East's leading Microfinance organization, ranked 8th best microfinance bank worldwide. It provides credit opportunities for micro-entrepreneurs, who cannot access the banking system due to a lack of collateral. It also provides business training and vocational services to the poorest communities in Jordan, women-led families and widows, through its loan offices. Through successful innovations such as the Souk Ayyadi markets that create sales channels for the products and services of its members, educational scholarship funding for performing member’s family, and “pay and renew” loan systems, Tamweelcom has continued to grow and serve client’s needs. Since inception, it has served more than 100,000 micro-entrepreneurs with more than $75 million (USD) in loans. 

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Obama's speech, in case you missed it...

On social entrepreneurship...

"On economic development, we will create a new corps of business volunteers to partner with counterparts in Muslim-majority countries. And I will host a Summit on Entrepreneurship this year to identify how we can deepen ties between business leaders, foundations and social entrepreneurs in the United States and Muslim communities around the world."

On women...

"Our daughters can contribute just as much to society as our sons, and our common prosperity will be advanced by allowing all humanity – men and women – to reach their full potential. I do not believe that women must make the same choices as men in order to be equal, and I respect those women who choose to live their lives in traditional roles. But it should be their choice. That is why the United States will partner with any Muslim-majority country to support expanded literacy for girls, and to help young women pursue employment through micro-financing that helps people live their dreams."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Social Innovation Conversations

A channel of the Conversations Network, Social Innovation Conversations allows readers/viewers to view and/or listen to social change ideas through audio lectures, speaker series, and conference recordings. On the site you can download free podcasts on social entrepreneurship, environmental sustainability, philanthropy, corporate social responsibility, responsible investing, etc...

There are some pretty incredible tools on here- and perhaps some inspiration?  

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Not your average summer camp

At the Introductory Seminar we had a number of students who were interested in youth issues- please see below for an interesting initiative taking place this summer:

Since 2003, An-Najah National University has organized an annual summer work camp which has invited International Volunteers and Students to work with Palestinian students at the university, refugee camps, children and civil society organizations where they can truly experience the Palestinian community and the traditions.

At the same time, they encourage and support the local students and make them feel that they are a part of the larger global youth.

Corporate Matchmaker

VolunteerMatch Corporate is a web-based service designed to manage, maximize, and measure employee volunteer programs.

Created to meet the needs of leading corporations that recognize the business and social value of community involvement, VolunteerMatch Corporate helps fulfill business goals for community outreach; assists employees in searching and signing up for local volunteer opportunities; and measures volunteer participation from one centralized location.

Demand? ... Solution.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A College Enterprise...

A great, innovative enterprise to feed the hungry:

Visit for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

"On one hand we have people who need food, and on the other we have us... who don't need all this food... so we kind of put it together..."

Simple concept- big impact.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mentors Inc.

Many of our Seminar students expressed interest in youth issues.  We had discussed various ideas, but how about a structured mentorship program?  A few days ago I went to a celebratory dinner for Mentors Inc., a Washington DC mentorship program, and was moved by the impact the program had on all participants- mentors, students, and staff.  

Since 1987, Mentors Inc has matched 4,000 DC public school students to mentors.

The mission of the organization is to increase the graduation rates and success of Washington D.C.'s public high school students by pairing them with caring adult volunteers in structured and enriched mentoring relationships that promote their personal, academic and career development. 

See their website for more information:

Would an organization like this be able to make an impact in Jeddah?  If so, who could the audience be, and would the mentor-relationship be welcomed or pose a challenge to cultural norms? 

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

One for One

In 2006 an American traveler, Blake Mycoskie, was travelling in Argentina and noticed that children were lacking one simple thing that could improve their health: SHOES.

He decided to create a company (TOMS) that would give away a pair of shoes to a child in need, for every pair that he sold: "One for One"

Later the SAME year... Blake returned to Argentina with a group of family, friends and staff with 10,000 pairs of shoes made possible by TOMS customers.

Since 2006, TOMS has given over 140,000 pairs of shoes to children in need through the One for One model. TOMS plans to give over 300,000 pairs of shoes to children in need around the world in 2009.

Why shoes? Read THIS.

More about their Movement