NNA - Within the context of the "Strengthening Social Entrepreneurship for Migration and Development (SEMD)" project, a regional roundtable meeting took place in Beirut titled “Reimagining Programme Design to Become More Inclusive for Local Communities, Women, Migrants, and Refugees: What is the Role of Technology?” which brought together representatives of the social entrepreneurship ecosystems from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.
The meeting was attended by more than 60 representatives of social enterprises supporting local communities, migrants and refugees, especially women, social entrepreneurship support structures, impact funds, national and international NGOs offering social enterprise focused support programmes, donors, entrepreneurship support organisations, and migrants and refugees from Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon
Ms. Yuka Greiler, Head of International Cooperation at the Swiss Cooperation Office in Lebanon gave a welcome note highlighting the agency’s holistic and inclusive approach towards protection and migration, an approach that is also adopted by the SEMD project through targeting local communities, women, migrants and refugees. She also noted that entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship are becoming more vital for addressing community challenges, and promoting economic inclusion through innovations in job creation, upskilling, or providing goods and services to marginalized populations.
Ms. Lama Zaher, Lead Innovation at Beyond Group, also gave a presentation on the Social Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Navigator (SEEN) Platform, which is part of the SEE Change Program, leveraging technology to support social entrepreneurship stakeholders in Lebanon. The platform, which acts as a digital social entrepreneurship ecosystem, gives social entrepreneurs access a network of supporters, service providers, researchers, and validators, and provides accurate data based on aggregated Interactions on the platform to social enterprise support structures, to enable more inclusive, contextual and effective program design.
The meeting also entailed a panel discussion that brought together Ms. Aya Maraqa, Regional Program Officer at SDC Jordan, Ms. Sabrina Salama, Head of MENA Partnerships at Seedstars, Mr. Luigi Cavallito, SEE Change Project Manager at COSV, Ms. Fida Taher, Partner at Amam Ventures and Ms. Mariam Al Shaar, Manager at Soufra. The panel was moderated by Mr. Gilbert Doumit, managing partner at Beyound Group who discussed with the participants the process of development of social entrepreneurship support programs and provided recommendations for more inclusivity at every stage of the design process.
The meeting participants also engaged in a number of workshop activities where they worked in groups to identify good practices to build on, negative practices to avoid, and recommendations for more inclusive program design processes.
Among the key learnings discussed within the roundtable meeting:
● The importance of witnessing beneficiaries’ living conditions and daily challenges first hand to identify their direct needs in a participatory way.
● The noted efforts of donor agencies in being more inclusive in their program design processes by developing deeper understanding of local cultures and challenges.
● The importance of co-designing programs along with beneficiary groups such as women, migrants and refugees.
● The importance of inclusion of beneficiaries at the design, implementation and evaluation stages.
● The importance of constant monitoring and analysis of the impact created to maintain and enhance the quality of interventions.
● The importance of recognizing failures and turning them into lessons learned for program redesign and development
● The need for influencing donor policies and program designs by providing honest, and comprehensive feedback and communicating on ground needs and challenges
● The importance of using technology constructively and inclusively In the different stages of program design processes.
The knowledge, ideas and insights gathered through regional meeting will be documented and shared by SEMD project with various social enterprenuership stakeholders as a practical guide for making programmatic design more inclusive for local communities, women, migrants and regfugees. The event will also be followed by a number of trainings, and meetings aiming for knowledge exchange and enhancing the ecosystem for social enterprenuership in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon.