With grassroots solutions to COVID-19 related challenges, 23 young social innovators from the Middle East and North Africa have pitched their ideas to the Ashoka ChangemakerXchange and SAP. Solutions presented address topics like emergency health responses, civil society capacity building, psychological support for citizens, and educational tools during lock-down.
More than 100 members of the MENA region’s social innovation community joined a virtual event that was hosted by SAP employees and volunteers. SAP is further supporting the initiative through mentoring and coaching with a view to helping the teams develop innovative ideas to make a meaningful impact in local communities.
UAE-based participants included Reem Kassem of Agora, Noha Mahdi of the Mawada Project, and Raya Bidshahri of Awecademy.
As a next step, the group of 23 will go through a development program and in July, two winning ventures will be the benefactors of seed funding to enable them to scale up their initiatives.
As an earlier part of the program in April, 15 members of the group took part in the first phase of the initiative which involved a virtual Collective Action Summit. During the Summit, the group gained valuable insights from more than 100 other Changemakers from across the globe.
“We have a once-in-a-century opportunity to build a more sustainable future,” said Adaire Fox-Martin, Head of Customer Success and Member of the Board, SAP SE. “At SAP, we are proud to champion social entrepreneurs, as we see social enterprise as the future of business.”
The COVID-19 crisis has resulted in pressing humanitarian needs right across the Middle East, and SAP has invested in several other areas to offer relief. These include the purchasing of personal protective equipment in Egypt in collaboration with AmCham Egypt Foundation through UNICEF’s Global Supply Division. Public hospitals, primary care hospitals, and quarantine hospitals across Egypt benefited from equipment distributed to COVID-19 units.
SAP has also recently championed the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR)’s Preparedness and ResponsePlanin MENA, UNHCR’s urgent appeal to raise USD 33 million, to support response and prevention activities in the wake of COVID-19. Donations will be used to protect refugees and displaced people and promote knowledge and best hygiene practices.
SAP MENA employees have additionally participated in the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)’s, #SmartDevelopmentHack focused on COVID-19 innovations. SAP hosted 60 volunteers who participated in Code the Curve – a partnership between SAP, UNESCO, and IBM – which resulted in technology solutions to secure continued access to learning, prevent the spread of misinformation, and support healthcare and social workers.
SAP has also established a worldwide €3 million COVID-19 Emergency Fund to support the urgent needs of the World Health Organization (WHO), the CDC Foundation, and smaller non-profits and social enterprises that work on the front lines serving local communities in crisis.