A couple of months ago, I addressed the issue of making money at social ventures and how it’s considered a sin from the perspective of many people, in one of my blog posts. During the last couple of years, I have made a lot of observations that triggered me to write this post, which addresses another relevant issue; the spending behavior of social ventures.
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Spending a couple of days with Dina Sherif and Ziad Haddara is very enlightening, especially if the conversation goes in the direction of the core of what we do. The dilemma of non-profits vs. generating revenues and overhead, and how the majority of people from different backgrounds consider it a sin, was one of those interesting conversations we had.
In my case, I have founded Nakhweh and registered it as a non-profit a few years ago. In general, I’m a very bad fundraiser and always look within my very closed circle of people to sustain my work; this definitely leads to limiting my scope of work, however, I’m better when it comes to closing business deals. I have asked a few friends around about the impact of turning my non-profit into a profit making company to avoid this conflict, the majority disagreed with that option and thought that it will leave a negative impact on most of the stakeholders.
It has been a long time since I started to work with a lot of NGOs when I started Nakhweh back in 2009, as a supportive platform to serve social institutions and initiatives. One of my main observations during the last few years, is the maldistribution of funds happening in Jordan. I was always trying to understand why a lot of impactful organizations or initiatives, regardless of their size and the people behind them, were failing to secure a very small amount of money to sustain themselves and continue their mission.
NGO funds in Jordan can be categorized under two main pillars; local and international funds. Local funds are mostly from private sector companies, and these come under the umbrella of the misunderstood CSR concept, also a small portion of these funds come from certain individuals.
بعيداً عن صور مرشحين المجلس النيابي المثيرة للاشمئزاز، إذا ذهبتم إلى طرف منطقة عبدون ونظرتم إلى الجهة الأخرى من العاصمة، ستجدون مجموعة من البيوت التي ربما بشكلها لا ترتقي لتصل إلى مباني الجهة التي تنظرون منها، ولكن ما خفي كان أعظم. تلك البيوت تقع في مناطق عدة، منها منطقة جبل النظيف.
Regardless of my endless fights with Zain Jordan, even after I got rid of their service; their أنا مع زين is absolutely getting on my nerves, I find it really useless and reflects nothing but how cocky and bumptious the company is. What value does Omar Al-Abdullat, Diana Karazon or Mohammad Al-Wakeel give the company or give me as a consumer (and I know they are not the only ones in the campaign)? Why those people? Where’s the rest of the community or the other users of the “largest” mobile provider in Jordan?
I might be against the concept of having certain products or services targeting certain cultures or areas by private companies that provide their services to the public mass; such a strategy could be more harmful than beneficial, from a development point of view, especially for areas that are considered underprivileged; it makes those people or areas feel more disconnected rather than feeling special. However, we can’t ignore that such strategies exist already, thus, I decided to write this post and reflect my personal perspective on how private sector should be doing it, in order to really serve their target audience and help in bridging the existing gap between communities.
This article has been posted on Wamda on October 18, 2012
“Social Entrepreneur” and “Social Activist”: these are two terms that are being used often lately given the recent revolutions (in which social media played a role) and the push for entrepreneurship in the region.
Yet the definition of both terms is not clear for many; you can see those who volunteered for a few times for a certain cause calling themselves “social entrepreneurs,” while the ones who established social ventures to solve real social problems sometimes call themselves “social activists.”