Live-Blogging #MENASocialGood – Complete! #Funtabulous

Since 2011, PITAPOLICY Consulting & Blog has been a Creative Partner for Al-Mubadarah by contributing interview blogs exploring development issues in the Arab world as well as partnering for social media action.  PITAPOLICY Consulting & Blog is pleased to be among the sponsors for #MENASocialGood, which was organized by Al Mubadarah (The Arab Empowerment Initiative) and its +SocialGood partners.  Al Mubadarah focuses on Arab human development and is spearheaded by Hazami Barmada and Victor Shiblie.  Our previous post asked: “How Will Investing in MENA Technology Fuel Philanthropy?” (November 4th, posted our Huffington Post Social Entrepreneurship piece questioning the status of innovating technology and philanthropy fields in the Middle East & North Africa region).  The first summit on Arab philanthropy & technology is over–so all the MORE reason that PITAPOLICY looks forward to continuing in its Creative Partner role.

A special thanks to +SocialGood partners (Microsoft, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Mashable, the United Nations) as well as Turkish Airlines, Cisco, Booz Allen Hamilton, and others for financial support.  There were 17 global meetups with the support of Ashoka Arab World, Endeavor, and others to arrange in the following countries: Qatar, Dubai, Egypt, Palestine, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Belgium, Canada, France, and Ireland. 

Thanks to those who joined us throughout the day as we live-blogged here and tweeted from @PITAPOLICY & @PITAConsumer at the Newseum Building in Washington, DC.  Below are the highlighted talking points we gathered from each session.  Al-Mubadarah is working on its site to provide some video segments for pitaconsumers who want to watch what they’re reading!  Also, again, discussion is not over–so tweet your commitment to promote human development in the Arab World using ‘#MyArabWorld’.

Questions: The Nexus Between Technology & Philanthropy


Growth of Technology for Social Good

  • How technology can mobilize people for social good?
  • How to utilize technology to mobilize social mobility?
  • How can MENA more effectively incubate technology and inspire innovation?
  • How online platforms can facilitate Harnessing Global Talents & develop mentorship relationships
  • How to use technology for education?
  • How to use technology to grow your business?
  • How social media is engaging youth? How can it be more constructive?



Knowledge Transfer & Capacity Building


  • How to build successful public-private partnerships?
  • How to use technology for capacity building and knowledge transfer
  • How technology can expand education initiatives – virtual classrooms



Innovative Philanthropy: Redefining the Donor & Online Giving


  • How to unleash philanthropy in the Arab World?
  • The importance of philanthropy to development
  • How is crowd funding growing in MENA?
  • How to cultivate and boost diaspora giving?


  • How to use social media to build strategic partnerships
  • How to fundraise online for your NGO?

Panel – Peace & Education through Gaming Emily Jacquard, Country Director in Lebanon, Search for Common Ground & Cedaria: Blackout

  • Hazami: What’s the space for videogaming in engaging youth on other issues besides violence?
  • EJ: At least 96% of youth play on videogames, many are violent.
  • Wargames is about demonization, so need to get past challenge of dehumanizing humans.
  • Trying to attract youth to look at corruption, refugees via gaming.

Panel – From Pain to Solution: The Little Engineer designed by Rana Chameitelly, Founder, The Little Engineer 
(Beirut, Lebanon)

  • Hazami: Do you find that there is a lot of programming in cultivating technology education?
  • RC: Engineer whose mission is to expose kids to technology of robotics to get kids before critical age into real technology
  • RC: Robotics isn’t just programming; learn concepts of engineerings w/hands on experience.
  • Hazami: What are your thoughts on programming for youth? To create a space for innovation by youth?
  • RC: Need to keep udpateing as youth change.

Panel – Youth Diplomacy: Empowering a Mainstream Youth Voice
Ahmad Alhendawi, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth
(New York, NY)

  • Hazami: How have Arab Governments responded to social media to engage since Arab Awakening?
  • We need to join forces, coordinate this fragmented scene, and bring youth onto the global stage.
  • It is time to invent jobs, not just seek jobs. Write business plans, not just CVs.
  • Young people no longer define democracy as voting every 4 yrs, as they voice in real time w/social media…

Panel – Reporting Live: Fusing Citizen & digital diplomacy with Technology Hend Alhinnawi, Co-Founder, Humanitarian Tracker

  • With new info paradigm, everyone is active participant… can get information ahead of official sources
  • Syria Tracker: Eye witness reporting + social media mining to give a holistic view of what is happening on the ground
  • Official orgs, like State Department use reports.
  • Got info out of Syria even during Internet blackout. Ppl took pics & video and uploaded later or used satellite


Panel – Harnessing Passion: Diaspora Engagement in Tunis & Beyond
Mohamed A. Malouche, Board Chairman, Tunisian American Young Professionals
(Washington DC)

  • MM: Upside of being a small diaspora community: to mobilize & gain consensus on 1 cause: Econ Development
  • Hazami: We receive criticism as a Diaspora community that we have a  “Savior Problem”: You’re 3rd 4th generation, so you don’t know our problems. How to deal with that?
  • Haven’t been able to make it a massive engagement… trying to address that we selected 10 15 selected entrepreneurs to success as a way to sidestep political connection factor.
  • Don’t be a Lesson Giver, but as a Partner

Workshop[WORKSHOP] Need Cash? How to Use Online Tools to Support Your Work with Britt Lake, Director of Programs, Global Giving
(Washington, DC) @globalgiving:

  • If you’re not doing online donations you’re probably leaving money on the table.
  • Do’s: use photos, explain challenges faced; use direct call to actions
  • Don’ts: use jargon, don’t make every post abt asking for donations
  • Send Thank You notes w/o asks
  • Use Networks

Panel -E-Commerce: Powering Digital Business with Omar Elsahy, General Manager,
(Cairo, Egypt)

  • Amazon is looking into opening warehouses in the MENA with fulfill by Amazon options to support small retailers in MENA
  • @Omar_Elsahy @Souq: With  E-commerce removes traditional barriers of age and gender. Competency becomes important factor.

Panel – Entrepreneurship Revolution: The Boom & its Future
Mohannad El-Khairy, Director, International Partnerships, Plug and Play Tech Center
(Palo Alto, California)

  • HB:El-Khairy  comes from the pioneering Zawya.Com to focus specifically on pushing entrepreneurship.
  • ME: Sense of owenrship needs to be given to university
  • ME: Tap into corporate segment.
  • ME: Angel Investing fits into model of Islamic Banking principle of “musharika”

Panel -The Culture of Philanthropy: How Do We Give? with Nadia Roumani, Professor, Stanford D-School, Founder, Muslim Giving Project
(Palo Alto, California)

  • Misperception: not just a shortage of resources… if we had more money, we could solve all of these problems
  • In MENA, many institutions have lost the trust of the communities they’re trying to engage. #MENASocialGood
  • “Redesigning philanthropy” efforts of looking at how resources can be used more efficiently for social change.

Panel – Internet Connect: Entrepreneurship Across Borders
Ossama Hassanein, Co-Founder & Chairman, TechWadi
(Palo Alto, California)

  • Hazami: How does TechWadi’s mentorship program work?
  • Hassanein: It takes between 1 to 3 months. Each startup goes through the 5 step process.
    Step 1: Exposure in Silicon Valley attend up to 5 events each week…but could be 3 times that much
    Step 2: Acceleration: 2 weeks immersion
    Step 3: Human Capital Dev, Hiring focus on human capital
    Step 4: Personnel Building, Conflict Resolution
    important to ensure no issues
    Step 5: Financing.

Panel – Digital & Diaspora Diplomacy with Edward (“Ned”) Sebelius, Senior Advisor, The Secretary’s Office of Global Partnerships, United States Department of State
(Washington, DC)

  • Dont’ see SOcial media as replacing our current efforts.Diaspora community is very important to us. Look at remittancesEngagement w/MENA audience: US State Dept will listen and take steps to look for entrepreneurs in Africa, SE Asia, MENA region
  • Responding to frustration is a priority at-large. Listening to and gathering people.#SecKerry has made it a personal priority to engage the youth of the #MiddleEast, and to improveHow R they actively making connections w/in MENA. Want to tap into incubators.

Panel – Social Business: Doing Good by Doing Well
Ahmed Ashkar, Founder & CEO, Hult Prize
(Washington, DC)

  • Hazami: Business words don’t always translate in ARabic, so there’s a linguistic challenge.
  • Ashkar: True, it’s a challenge in communication in business world too. Foced to use words that don’t exist in Arabic…b/c it goes into philanthropy.
  • Ashkar: Profits are given back to the cause. Every add’l person serviced, is that the cost declines
    A social business is one where the cost curve declines as capability improves. Charities often run on linear basis.
  • Applications are open–we are looking for a focus on healthcare.
  • Wasta is “network” that very few have access to… (PITAPOLICY Note: wasta exists in many cultures…what we’re concerned about is the level “wasta” has or has not been democractized)

Panel – Shifting Paradigms: A Driving Voice on Arab Development w/Muna AbuSulayman, Development Expert, Philanthropist, Social Activist
(Riyadh, Saudi Arabia) @MunaAbuSulayman

  • Hazami: What should we be expecting from conferences– there Arab conferences left and right!
  • MA: Conferences are for networking and an opportunity for those to showcase their CSR.

Panel – Sharing Good: The Contagious Effect of Positivity Nawara Chakaki, Editor-in-Chief, Baraka Bits
(Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

  • Hazami: What does sharing good information do?
  • From #Dubai @nchakaki w @barakabits “postive local narrative that is uplifting and inspires us to make a difference” #MENASocialGood
  • Need to use inspiring stories! We have become desensitized to the negative images media portrays. @nchakaki wants to focus on the positive.
  • Baraka bits has grown to be #1 news source in #MENA on good news, which inspires to take action
  • Positive Story examples: Shelter for Abused walls in Qatar, Green Wall in Kuwait, Talent emerging.
  • Creative Commons license to share our stories as long as not for commercial use nor altered content.

Workshop: Research: Social Media 4 Social Good in Arab World
Fadi Salem, Director, and  Racha Mourtada, Research Associate, Governance & Innovation Program, Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government
(Dubai, United Arab Emirates)

  • Based on our last report: we found FB users reached 55 million users, quadrupeld since 2010, and penetration of 15 %. Twitter is around 3.8 million.  336 tweets /month. Twitter: top 5 are all GCC countries
  • Top Hashtags: KSA, Egypt, Bahrain and Syria in ARabic new phenomena
  • only 1 in 3 are female, vs. 50% in world  social & cultural constraints on women
  • Social Media is becoming a primary source of news, according to our survey this year
  • Convergence of traditional and social media: economic growth and socent
  • Fadi Salem: “”virtual civil society developing among users of social media in Arab region””

See their report: Arab Social Media

Panel: Annette Richardson, Senior Advisor & Acting Chief of Office, Office for Partnership, United Nations
(New York, NY)

HB: How do we respond to the concern that we’re cultivating citizen activism for a purpose?  It creates concern for some power holders.

AR: Cultural dimensions in Emerging economies differs from the West.  I meet with groups individuals to develop a relationship.


Panel – Digital Philanthropy: Changing the Landscape of a Donor in MENA with Justin Sykes, Director of Microenterprise Silatech

Justin @Silatech: We invest in institutional resources , but still need to involve citizen activism.  18 months ago, we launched an initiative w/Kiva.  Young professionals across Arab world might not be used to crowd-funding for philanthropy goals, so we launched another platform. Challenges in currency transaction and language remain.

Panel w/Afeefa Syeed, US Agency for International Development

  • Syeed:”Development is an action word that requires active learning and not just talking”
  • Barmada: If you were to give Arab Governments advice on how to better listen, regarding access to education and healthcare, what would it be?
  • Syeed from USAID: Hard to answer.  Internalize process of supporting innovation and to bring in youth.
  • Barmada: Hopefully, even if one offers constructive criticism of #USAID and govts, one can still work together.
  • Barmada to Doha Meetup participants: How do you define a donor? (Mowil, arabic word to create)


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