Viewpoint: The Rise of the Social Entrepreneurs Is Egypt’s Silent Revolution
Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Tuning in to news channels, browsing through social media sites, or engaging in a chit-chat with one of Egypt’s ever-so talkative taxi drivers can leave even the biggest optimist heavy-hearted. High illiteracy rates in Egypt’s primary and middle schools, blood-covered hospital beds shared by multiple patients, and increased suicide rates among men unable to provide for their families are tragically common and familiar headlines. While the core of our economic and social problems have long been recognized, very little has been done to address them.
Like others in the developing world, the Egyptian government is one large centralized bureaucratic machine that lacks the expertise and financial resources required to seriously tackle the country’s core issues. Amidst the current political turmoil, private businesses have suffered, further amplifying the country’s economic and social problems. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) haven’t been doing very well either. With over 5 billion Egyptian pounds donated yearly, and over 45,000 NGOs operating in the country, they have failed to create the desired social impact. That is largely due to the fact that most of the projects they run are short-term and financially unsustainable solutions whose impacts do not go on past the conclusion of the projects.
While the work of these institutions — public, private or NGO- is important, it is simply not enough. There is still a gap between is being accomplished and what can and needs to be accomplished. This gap calls for new and more sustainable approaches to tackle the country’s most pressing social challenges.