Hello! My name is Christian Vietz, Programme Manager at Euclid Network (EN). This is diary part two of my trip to support the exchanges of social enterprise support organisations taking place as part of the MedUP! project. I spent the previous week in Jordan and OPT, meeting with the peers on their exchanges and catching up with Euclid Network regional partners. Now it’s time to continue that work in Egypt.
If you haven’t already read part one of my journey to the MENA region, you can check it out here.
02/02/2020 – Flight from Jordan to Egypt
After a very productive visit to Jordan and OPT, I boarded a flight to Cairo, Egypt to start the second half of my journey. Coming from Amman, the size (and traffic) of Cairo was completely different. This is understandable considering Cairo is one of the largest cities in Africa.
03/02/2020 – Meeting the Peers
In Egypt, the exchanges (between social enterprise leaders) took place in Cairo and Alexandria. Today, I had the opportunity to catch up with the peers in Cairo: Amira and Abeer from ElRe7la and Teo of ActGrupa from Croatia. It was great to meet them at the start of their exchange and hear the plans for their time together.
04/02/2020 – Going to Alexandria
I went to Alexandria today. I had quite an adventure getting there. Even though I got up at 6 AM to catch the 8 AM train, when I arrived at the train station around 7:30 AM, there were no more train tickets available. I was eventually able to take a train in the early afternoon, just in time for a meeting with the French Consul in Alexandria.
The peers and I had an insightful meeting with the French General Consul in Alexandria, Ms. Janaïna Herrera. Our discussion centred around the possibilities and challenges of social enterprises in Alexandria, with a particular focus on businesses with a positive environmental impact.
05/02/2020 – Meeting at Jesuit Culture Centre
Today was a very busy day. It started with a meeting at the Jesuit Culture Centre (JCC), which is an independent non-profit institution founded in 1954. The Centre’s main purpose is to inspire youths to contribute to society for which they provide a broad range of artistic, intellectual and cultural activities.
I was impressed with the great work the Centre does to give creatives a platform to express themselves.
Next, I organised a call to catch-up with the ongoing exchanges taking place in Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco. The Moroccan peers were not able to join, but I and the exchanges in Egypt connected with the Tunisian peers from El Space and CoArt and their peers from Social Enterprise Mark CIC and Academy of Entrepreneurship (AKEP).
My call with the peers, was followed by a meeting with a social enterprise which focuses on STEM education. STEM is a curriculum centred on four specific disciplines – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
I returned back to Cairo in the evening.
06/02/2020 – Reflection
On my way to meet Teo from ActGrupa and Amira from ElRe7la for their reflection meeting, there was a sudden *puff*, the car slowed down and smoke streamed from the motor. We had broken down. The driver repeatedly apologised, but it was clear that I would need to find another ride.
I was delayed but, I did eventually make it to Amira and Teo to talk about their exchange.
Peers Amira, Teo and I meet along the shores of the Nile, the longest river in the world. They shared how their ecosystems of Egypt and Croatia have similar levels of development and how they would be able to collaborate on some events. In closing, they said how their most valuable takeaway was the expertise that the other was able to offer.
07/02/2020 – Final Dinner
My final evening, I had dinner with Teo and Amira. We talked more about the work of ElRe7la and how their concept, interactive out-of-office experiences focusing on mind, body and soul, would also be very interesting in a European context.
08/02/2020 – Return to the Netherlands
Sitting in the plane on my way home, I was thinking about how the peers have benefitted, sometimes in unforeseen ways from the exchange. The peers themselves frequently mentioned the importance of knowledge exchange and connections between the MENA region and the EU region. A few of the peers were also struck by the similarities of their ecosystems despite their different regions, such as in the case of Jordan and Serbia and Egypt and Croatia.
I was deeply inspired by the passion, resilience, creativity of the social entrepreneurs I was in touch with. Given that this was just the first part of the exchanges, I’m looking forward to seeing what the peers will accomplish in the next part of the exchange and when they all meet in person.
Did you miss the first part of Christian’s MedUP! trip? Read it here.
MedUp! Promoting social entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean region aims at promoting social entrepreneurship in Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt, OPT and Lebanon as a driver for inclusive growth and job creation. MedUP! is led by OXFAM Italy, in partnership with Euclid Network, Diesis and Impact Hub International in Europe. Our southern Mediterranean partners are the local OXFAM offices and their partners Tunisian Center for Social Entrepreneurship (TCSE) in Tunisia, ENACTUS in Morocco, JOHUD in Jordan, PARC in OPT and SEKEM in Egypt.