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Raghda el-Ebrashi

Chairperson / Assistant Lecturer, AYB-SD / German University in Cairo.

Chairperson / Assistant Lecturer, AYB-SD / German University in Cairo.

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Raghda el-Ebrashi Biography

 s the founder of Alashanek Ya Balady Association for Sustainable Development (AYB-SD) Raghda and a group of Egyptian youth believe in the power of social and economic development to alleviate poverty. AYB-SD was registered as a legal NGO in 2005 while at the same time it established student clubs in universities and continues to expand its branches in other universities in Egypt.

Alashanek Ya Balady is reaching out to young Egyptians, creating awareness about development and increasing youth participation in the transformation of Egypt rather than wasting energy in instant aid and charity. This is down to creating employment opportunities for youth all over Egypt.

Raghda El Ebrashi is currently lecturing on Strategic Management at the German University in Cairo (GUC). She earned her Bachelor Degree in Business Administration in 2004 from the American University in Cairo (AUC), and acquired her Master Degree in Professional Development from the AUC as well in 2006. She wrote her PhD thesis on Social Entrepreneurship at the GUC (graduating in June 2010).

Raghda gained local and international recognition for her community development efforts and is highly decorated with awards and fellowships amongst others from Al Ahram Newspaper, World Business Magazine (London), Shell International, UNDP and Microsoft in Malaysia, YouthActionNet (United States) and Synergos (United States). King Abdulla Award (Jordan), and Young global leaders (Davos in Switzerland).

Raghda El Ebrashi Interview questions

Why did you decide to start your social enterprise? What social need did you see in Egypt that you wanted to address?

On my first school trip outside Cairo, I went to the city of Belbayes, Sharkeya governorate, to visit a home for the elderly. There I met Om Fathy, an old and seemingly very poor woman. She invited me over to her house to introduce me to her children. I went along with Om Fathy only to be dazzled by the reality of a life I never imagined its existence. Om Fathy, was living in a tiny room with seven children and no ceiling. As the years passed, I kept recalling this incident with Om Fathy and her missing ceiling with an increasingly wider perspective. I started to volunteer with NGOs like Fat’het Kheir and others and worked on several campaigns for social development. I wanted to make the difference in Egypt – for Egypt and most certainly for the people in Egypt like Om Fathy who taught me the most valuable lesson of my life.

The vision that has been evolving ever since I was a child was finally translated into a plan and an outline; I started the Alashanek Ya Balady (AYB) organization (later called franchise) in 2002 at the university where I invited volunteers from the students to join and instead of giving “money” to the poor they would actually dedicate their time and become active players and change agents in people’s lives.

What makes your approach innovative?

We don't just offer training and employment. We offer skills needed for specific jobs and according to the needs of reputable companies which goes above and beyond your basic soft skills trainings. We also take the training one step further and coach them through their work until they feel confident enough in themselves to continue on their own. This ensures success at their new job.

For those without the minimum education required to be hired at a reputable company, we offer mentorship, consulting and micro loans to people who want to start their own projects.

Finally, we offer franchise opportunities for people interested in replicating AYB's work in their community. These are independently led and operated as long as they abide by AYB framework and values.

What obstacles and challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?

Youth NGOs in Egypt aren't taken very seriously, however through the years AYB has been given many prestigious awards for its work in development. The AYB name has become a source of credibility for our franchises as well.

Another challenge was overcoming the stereotype that NGOs offer charity work and by hiring from our pool of trainees companies understand that they are giving back to the community instead of receiving a skilled employee. In reality, our trainees (regardless of their under privileged background) are developed enough to contribute to the company and are not hired out of charity.

What one key advice would you give to someone who wants to start a social enterprise in Egypt?

I follow the Three-P model. Passion: it is contagious. When you're passionate about something people will rally behind you and the resources will follow.

Persistence: development takes time. For example, it takes us up to three years after one of our trainees is hired to become elevated out of poverty.

Pro-activity: don't wait, just do it and people will follow. Take the initiative and start small because one social entrepreneur fixes a small piece of the puzzle and others should fix their own piece until the whole puzzle is complete.

A word from the entrepreneur; what does s/he think of the Yahoo! Maktoob NM Competition?

This program gives people hope. The term social entrepreneurship is not easily recognized yet and this program will help activate pro-activity. A lot of people want to do something but they don't know where to start from.

What do you think the internet can bring to the field of social innovation; how should internet be utilized to support social enterprises?

Marketing your organization has become much easier through the internet. Creating a website for your social enterprise and utilizing social media will increase the visibility of your impact not only in Egypt but to the whole world. In addition to that, using emails are the most efficient, cost effective and reliable tool for communications, internally and with different stakeholders. Also AYB does a lot of online academic research as a base for its development work. The internet is definitely one accessible tool that should be utilized to support social enterprises.

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    Raghda el-Ebrashi is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Business, Business Leaders, Corporate Responsibility, Entrepreneurism.
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Raghda el-Ebrashi is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Raghda el-Ebrashi for your event is available upon request. Raghda el-Ebrashi generally travels from and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Lindsay Miller, Ann MacDougall, Sarabajaya Kumar, Ann Cotton and Soraya Salti. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Raghda el-Ebrashi for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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