Youth and Social Entrepreneurship

Youth-led social enterprises are at the forefront of addressing pressing social and environmental issues. Having grown up in the face of environmental degradation, rising youth unemployment and global instability, many young people are trying their best to shape a brighter future for themselves and the planet and create their own solutions.

2023 is designated as European Year for Skills. What skills do youth need to face an uncertain future full of global challenges such as climate change, fewer jobs, unstable health systems, growing inequality between the North and South, etc.? Is social entrepreneurship the solution or the approach to tackle social, cultural, or environmental issues? What opportunities does social entrepreneurship create for youth? How can social entrepreneurship contribute to sustainable development

We heard from Hala Al-Hashlamoun (Jordan), Shady Khalil (Eygpt) and Imad Elabdala (Sweden) all running social enterprises in three unique contexts. All of them are taking the initiative to create their own solutions – reimaging economic and social systems that are so badly failing people and the planet. All our speakers referred to the power of story-telling in their transformative missions.

Shady spoke from his perspective as an environmental activist, and co-founder of Greenish https://www.green-ish.org/. Shady talked about the importance of changing the narrative surrounding climate change. Through access to education and training, research and open source materials, Greenish is creating spaces for new voices to be heard in the dialogue surrounding the sustainability of the planet, thereby influencing policy with representative and relevant evidence.

Hala Al-Hashlamoun spoke about her youth development work as Co-Founder and Executive Director at Mateen https://mateenworld.org/ and the seminal work Mateen does in providing informal education especially in remote rural areas: making the impossible possible by building confidence and allowing children to dream, and supporting those dreams with the necessary structures for realizing them in partnership with parents and guardians. She also highlighted the importance of comedy and creativity in this process.

Imad talked from his experience as a war survivor and refugee and Co-founder of Hero2Be https://www.hero2b.org/ - about everyone’s right to be released from the victim narrative and find their inner hero. We heard that of the astounding 25 million refugee children in existence globally, only 5% have access to psycho-social support. Hero2Be is addressing this major gap through the creation and dissemination of psycho-social online tools so vital in addressing mental health and wellbeing especially amongst children & young people.

We concluded the session with a discussion about how sustainability needs to be built into social enterprises from their inception through a blend of diverse and stable income streams to avoid over-dependence on any one source. Our speakers emphasised the need for effective partnerships to ensure greater social impact as well as the need to imbed innovative practice into the existing infrastructure – becoming an indispensable part of the solution.


Imad Elabdala (Hero2B - Sweden)

In 2017, Imad founded Hero2B, a non-profit organisation working for improving the mental health and social capacity of children and families with challenges. Imad will talk about his work from his experience as a war survivor and refugee. In 2018, he was awarded with Sweden’s royal entrepreneurial prize Årets Nybyggare (Trailblazer of the year). In 2020, Hero2B won the UNHCR global NGO Innovation Award for its innovative work responding to the Covid crisis and improving the lives of children worldwide through innovation. 

Hala Al-Hashlamoun (Mateen - Jordan)

In 2016, Hala co-founded Mateen, an NGO based in Jordan and established in 2016 to equip marginalized children with the education needed to enhance their skills and knowledge in order to build a secure future and to become self-reliant, impactful and productive members of the society.

Shady Khalil (Greenish - Egypt)

In 2017, Shady co-founded Greenish, an Egyptian enterprise that aims to promote sustainable development through educational activities and environmental assessment services and support local communities particularly vulnerable to climate change's adverse effects. Shady will tell us about his passion for bringing social and environmental change through advocacy, art and education. How his work focuses on social inclusion and the gender impact of climate change and environmental degradation.

The Morning Coffee is moderated by Denise L Mellion, co-founder of River of Light (Sweden) and ALF Swedish network advisory committee member.

More information, please contact the Swedish network coordinator Rasha Shaaban 

Organised thanks to the support of the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the ALF Swedish network