2nd Arab European Young Leaders Forum
March 2-5, 2013, Tunis
Cornerstones of an Open Society: Promoting Good Governance and Participation
In December 2010, the Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire in protest against a life without prospects or dignity. Since then, the Arab world has not looked back. Deeply entrenched autocratic regimes have been toppled in Egypt and Tunisia. Libya, emerging from a bloody civil war, is now developing new political structures – a process that still seems a long way off in the case of Syria. Other countries in the region have also experienced civil protests, followed in some instances by moderate reform.
Economically, the countries of the Arab revolution are worse off today than they were before the uprisings. Trade with the euro zone has plummeted; foreign tourists and investors are staying away. Unemployment continues to rise and once again bring protesters into the streets. There is also widespread public frustration over power struggles in the newly appointed parliaments, delaying or hindering reform. In Egypt and Tunisia, the Islamist ruling parties are attempting to exploit this historic window of opportunity to give the new states a religious bent. In Libya, conflicting regional and local interests in the General National Congress continue to obstruct any progress towards a new constitution.
Many questions remain unresolved: how can countries such as Tunisia and Libya lay the foundations for functioning constitutional and democratic states, what standards are met particularly by the recently ratified Egyptian constitution, and how can the North African states create an attractive economic environment? It is still unclear how transparent and democratic the new states will be on paper and in real life. And it remains to be seen what role will be given to women, minorities and religion, and whether the democraticization of the Middle East will lead to more pluralism or to paternalistic societies dominated by Muslim male norms.
The 2nd Arab European Young Leaders Forum will explore the developments and challenges, and present innovative civil-society solutions. In view of continued episodes of violence and instability in Cairo, we decided to move the Forum from its originally planned venue in Egypt to Tunisia.
List of Participants (pdf - 0.06 MB)
Tamer Makary: Anchoring a Culture of Democratic Accountability (pdf - 0.46 MB)
Michael P. Cracknell: Social Entrepreneurship in a Changing Society (pdf - 0.1 MB)
Shahira Amin: Facets of Democracy – Chances and Pitfalls for Pluralism (pdf - 0.06 MB)
Site Visit I: Express FM
Express FM is a private, generalist Tunisian radio station predominantly dealing with business and economic issues. It was founded by Mourad Gueddiche and Naoufel Ben Rayana, cofounders of Maghreb Productions Communication (MPC). When Express FM started in October 2010, just a few months before the revolution, it was the fifth-launched private radio station in Tunisia, and broadcasted in the areas of Tunis and Sfax, the two major economic hubs in the country. Based in Tunis, the young team consists of journalists, artists, professional speakers and technicians, some of them well-known in the Tunisian media. www.radioexpressfm.com
Site Visit II: Enactus
Enactus – short for Entrepreneurial, Action, Us – (formerly known as SIFE) is an international non-profit NGO. At both the national and international level, it organizes competitions for teams of students committed to using the power of entrepreneurial action to transform lives and shape a better, more sustainable world. During the site visit, we will visit local entrepreneurs to learn more about their working conditions. Afterwards, we will discuss with students how they work with local craftsmen to develop the latter’s business models and marketing strategies in order to improve their potential for growth.
Site Visit III: ACT Think & Decide – Project Bus Citoyen
The Tunisian Citizenship Association ACT Think & Decide was founded in February 2011. One of ACT’s core projects is Bus Citoyen (Citizen Bus), set up through a joint effort by a network of associations with the objective to provide civic education. In one of three buses, a team of trained volunteers drives to marketplaces, factories, youth centers etc. all over Tunisia. Spending an hour on site, they provide unbiased information about the democratic system and especially the electoral process, and encourage individuals to exercise their right to vote. More than 220,000 Tunisians have been reached by Bus Citoyen so far.
Site Visit IV: Al-Bawsala
Al-Bawsala, a non-profit organization registered in March 2012 in Tunis, seeks to promote transparency and accountability through monitoring legislative and executive institutions, and establishing linkages between citizens and elected officials. Al-Bawsala is governed by a fourmember board of directors consisting of Amira Yahyaoui, a human rights activist who has been awarded the Global Trailblazer award in 2012 (president); Maher Tekaya, a trade unionist (vicepresident); Nadia Boulifa, a World Economic Forum Global Leadership fellow (treasurer); and Selim Kharrat, a sustainable development expert and the co-founder of Cahiers de la Liberté (executive director). Al-Bawsala has received financial support from the Open Society Foundation (USA), Parliament Watch (Germany), and the Schmitz Foundation (Germany).
Workshop I: Media in Cooperation and Transition (MICT)
MICT – Media in Cooperation and Transition is a German NGO implementing media development projects in the Middle East and Northern Africa. Activities focus on the interplay between conflict, media coverage, and reconciliation in crisis regions. Through its activities, MICT aims to foster the transformation of conflict towards reconciliation and encourage dialogue among conflicting factions within society. The focal point is the interaction and interdependence of media and conflict. Supporting media cooperation, networking, and development, as well as capacity building in the field of journalism, is essential in post-conflict transition. Small ambitious media outlets often do not have the outreach and circulation to attract advertisers. They are all competing for a small piece of a large advertising budget. They often exist for mere idealistic or activist-related reasons and lack sustainable funding. Even though these radio stations and media outlets reach only a small group of the entire population, their audience is well-defined: students, farmers, women, workers, etc. A narrow target group is very attractive for advertisers. Challenge: The workshop aims to develop a strategy for building media networks across tribal, political, and ethno-sectarian lines in countries like Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Iraq or South Sudan, which will enable media companies to broaden their audience and thus attract more international advertising investments. At the same time, such alliances could have a strong peace-building component by establishing communication and cooperation strategies between small tribal and culturally antagonistic media players.
Workshop II: Middle East Justice and Development Initiative (MEJDI)
MEJDI is a joint Jewish-Arab tour operator that creates custom group tours to Israel, Palestine, Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt. Guided by a mission to provide responsible tour experiences and invest in the communities where we work, we provide clients with access to people and places that traditional tour companies cannot reach. As a result of this unique business model, our clients get to hear different perspectives, participate in new cultural experiences, and go behind closed doors to meet local religious, political, and tribal leaders. MEJDI aims to be a global company and expand its model worldwide. Our innovative model of dual narrative tours has gained a lot of attention. We hire one Palestinian and one Israeli to guide a tour together by exploring the narratives of each community. Challenge: Although we are growing fast in Israel and Palestine, our goal is to find and grow a market in Europe, mainly Spain. We are currently facing questions on the best locations to choose, which partners to work with, which infrastructure to build and how to reach European customers (also for our other programs). At the same time, we want to make sure that our growth stays both sustainable and in line with our values.
Workshop III: Uberis Fund
Uberis Capital is a social venture capital firm currently active in Southeast Asia. It aims to back businesses with social impact. Those companies innovate to create economic opportunities for the poor in the form of employment, training, higher revenues, new products and services. Uberis Capital works with private investors who it provides with access to investments in selected social enterprises. It currently runs a private foundation and aims to launch a new type of loan fund to help grow the “missing middle” segment between seed capital and expansion capital. Even though the rapidly emerging impact investing sector is poised to deliver very high impact on poverty through the funding of enterprises with high social impact, funding social businesses remains a challenge. Current forms of funding address early stage or later stage, but tend to overlook investments below $2m. This leaves most social enterprises without adequate financing. Innovation in investment formats and funding instruments is needed in order to overcome this challenge. Uberis Capital is keen to lead innovation in the “missing middle”, i.e. between investments of $0.1 and $2m. Challenge: We believe that large corporations could be involved in funding with an added economic benefit (such as gaining understanding of new customers, CSR, and marketing values). We invite workshop attendees to design a “penny campaign” as a direct collaboration between a social fund and a corporation. The idea: a penny per product goes to a social enterprise fund. The corporation can advocate its social role and appeal to consumers’ demand for social impact. The fund is managed by a foundation for social enterprises. Our challenge would be to come up with a “CEO pitch” presentable to a corporation for a collaboration program.
Workshop IV: European Humanities University
Humanities University The European Humanities University (EHU) is a private, nonprofit liberal arts university founded in Minsk in 1992. The authoritarian government of Belarus closed the University in 2004 after it refused to yield to government demands that would have compromised its academic freedom and the academic freedoms of its students. In 2005 it was re-established in Vilnius, the capital of neighboring Lithuania, where it operates today as a university-in-exile. EHU serves over 1,600 mostly Belarusian students, offering undergraduate and graduate degree programs and promoting research in the humanities and social sciences. Challenge: EHU survived political repression and exile thanks to the support of an international coalition of donors. Donor support comes primarily from European governments and international governmental organizations, including the European Commission and the Nordic Council of Ministers, with additional contributions from the United States government and a small group of private foundations. The challenge EHU faces is to diversify its funding base to attract more private-sector donors: foundations, corporations, and individuals, in order to reduce its reliance on governmental support and on the foundations that have supported it since the move to Vilnius, whose funding priorities are now changing.