Just a week ago on March 15th, approximately 300 individuals gathered for the launch of the Women's Initiative for Social Entrepreneurship (WISE) at Ashoka Arab World's Arab World Social Innovation Forum (AWSIF 2019). Centered around the theme of bringing local to global and global to local, AWSIF 2019 attendees traveled from 25 countries and 6 continents to explore diverse models of social change, critically analyze how we can measure positive systemic change, and reconsider mainstream definitions of success in social entrepreneurship. This is not the first time that Ashoka Arab World has held AWSIF. In 2009 and 2010, AWSIF aimed at introducing and defending the relatively new field of social entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa region. AWSIF 2019 presented more complex discussions, featuring the formal launch of WISE on an international stage.
WISE took center stage with a dedicated plenary panel revolving around conceptions of success and scaling in the social entrepreneurship ecosystem as well as a Break-Out Session that gave a number of women Ashoka Fellows a platform to share their individual stories of changemaking and leadership. Led by Dr. Iman Bibars, Regional Director of Ashoka Arab World and Vice President of Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, the plenary panel on WISE featured Brittany Boettcher, Senior Program Manager at the Skoll Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship and Ashoka Fellows Hasina Kharbhih, Fida Abu Turky, Morgan Dixon, and Edit Schlaffer. In the Break-Out Session titled "In Their Own Words: How Women Social Entrepreneurs Lead and Innovate" - moderated by Sonia Park Ashoka Co-Leader of Global Venture and Fellowship - Zeinab Al-Momani, Maysoun Gangat, and Amina Swanepoel discussed their journeys towards changemaking and individual experiences as women social entrepreneurs.
On March 16th, Ashoka Fellows gathered for an Innovation Lab facilitated by Raphaela Toncic-Sorinj, Director of the Ashoka Visionary Program. During this session, Fellows were guided through a series of activities to get to know each other, learn more about one another's work, and identify potential avenues for collaboration.
Stay tuned for more photos and updates about the dialogues that unfolded during AWSIF and collaborations spurred during the event!