Ideas may be everywhere in a country of 80 million people, but developing and implementing them are a completely different story when that country is more famous for state bureaucracy than state services.
This is what Nahdel El Mahrousa does for you. Every initiative that had you rethinking your cynicism about the Egyptian cultural scene is either managed by them or has worked with them at some point. From Nawaya, for sustainable environmental initiatives to Mashrou’ Mareekh, concerned with freedom of expression and a platform for some of Egypt’s most diverse talents, El Mahrousa takes your idea and turns into a reality.
“The NGO started when one of the founders, Ehaab Abdou, started in 2002 to meet with expatriate Egyptians to find ways to develop Egypt, said Nada El Gammal, PR officer for Nahdet Masr. “They wanted the focus of it to be diverse enough so as not to limit people, so they focused on social entrepreneurship.”
The NGO acts as a hub for ideas on how to develop Egypt. “The ideas have to be social and usually engage youth”, El Gammal said. “Mahrousa does everything a social entrepreneur wants but does not have the knowledge to do. We look at sustainable ideas and help them implement them.”
Mahrousa helps these new initiatives by providing a legal umbrella, marketing, fundraising, public relations and training through their social capacity building programme, Nahdetna.
“Through Nahdetna we give them skills that they may not have been exposed to, such as sales negotiation, public relations, project management and they are all specifically tailored to social entrepreneurs,” said El Gammal.
The NGO will be hosting an information session tomorrow for their incubations, with another one to follow on 6 December. “The goal is for people to learn about us and what services we can offer them. It is open to the public and free to attend. We have another session for people to present their ideas,” she said.
Participants will need to inform the NGO so they can be registered if they would like to attend the event. Other initiatives incubated by Nahdet El Mahrousa include Namaa, which is a summer school for sustainable development, the young innovators award and the Cairo entrepreneur.
“Currently, we have 25 incubated projects and we have worked with at least 50 from 2003 onwards. Our e-network has also grown to 12,000 people,” said El Gammal.
Nahdet El Mahrousa hosts a cultural salon called Salon el Mahrousa in the style of the cultural salons that were once prevalent in Cairo and Alexandria and hugely influential in the country’s cultural and intellectual development.
“We host the salon at least twice a month and we focus on many diverse topics, including environmental topics where we had Nature Egypt and another time we had writers comment on Egyptian identity. We get pioneers in the field to lead the discussion and we have about 100 audience members in each salon,” El Gammal said.
The information session will last from 5.30 to 8.30pm and will be hosted at the Mesaha Center for Arts and Culture.