Between 15th-19th May, 40+ participants of the MedUp! Project gathered in Hammamet, Tunisia, for a much-awaited in-person event. For the last 4 years, EN has organised a series of in-person and online activities with the aim of promoting social entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean region.
Together with partners from Oxfam Tunisia, EN organised a 3-day event to not only reflect and recognize achievements but also create the next steps for social entrepreneurship and innovation in the Mediterranean region.
While in Hammamet, the EN team led participants through a series of indoor and outdoor activities, some of which were focused on social entrepreneurship oriented while others offered relaxed environments for participants to get to know each other better.
Below a short recap of these three exciting days in Hammamet, Tunisia:
Day 1 – 16th May
After some introductions and a “Human Bingo” icebreaker game on the hotel lawn – – the attendees participated in workshops and discussions focusing on social enterprise in their regions.Participants shared their experiences and expertise. Eric Asmar and Rosaria Sapienza spoke about cross-border cooperation, Tarek Mattar challenged his the participants to think critically about business model innovation and Gary Fawdey shared this breadth of experience with impact reporting. Furthermore, Ichraf Jarray told the group about the art of pitching and Basma Barhan from HLHCS spoke about her Handicraft Cooperative in Palestine and showed us what it means to be a resilient organisation in times of crises. After almost three hours of talking, one thing was clear: the conversations and discussions were far from over.
Day 2 – 17th May
The second day began with participants sharing breakfast with newly found friends and perhaps, future project partners. In the morning, participants were invited to attend 1 of the 3 working sessions on MedUp! Peer Exchanges, the se-mena.org platform, and “How to develop a shared approach towards data”. Over the course of 2 hours, participants discussed the “nitty & gritty” of what comes next for the sector in the region, the gaps and challenges, and proposed actionable solutions to begin addressing these concerns.
These discussions highlighted among other things, the profound care and deep sense of ownership from participants to improve social entrepreneurship and further develop the ecosystem in the region. Although not all challenges were solved during this day, the group concluded with concrete actions to continue collaborating beyond MedUp!
The group ended the day with a real fireside chat at the Hammamet beachside, hosted by Adnane Addioui, President of MCISE and Ashoka fellow, who guided an intimate conversation on the group’s perception of success and failure in their personal and professional lives.
Day 3 – 18th May
The 3rd and last full-day of this event asked participants to look ahead.
Having walked through achievements and challenges in Day 1 and 2, New Silk Roads with Evert, Ines, and Katie walked the entire group through an exercise to create and trace a future metaphor for social entrepreneurship in the MENA region. Broken up into 3 individual, but complementary sessions, this activity pushed groups to deconstruct their desired future for the MENA social entrepreneurship ecosystem network, financial reporting, and impact measurement framework and trace concrete steps on how to get there. To finish off the day, we were “wow-ed” by the creative design and presentation skills of participants, as each group presented their mind & roadmap towards the future they plan to build. Incredible designs out of markers, post its, and flipchart paper lined the walls of the plenary room, making it a snapshot of the desired future of social entrepreneurship in the Mediterranean.
In conclusion, the MedUp Ecosystem Event has been an eye-opener to those across the region in realising that many social entrepreneurs have similar challenges across the many countries but they also have solutions and ideas. MedUp! was an event that brought people together and reminded participants of the value of meeting in-person. Moreover, the event not only created safe spaces for participants to dream big and beyond MedUp!, but also identified new avenues for cooperation and collaboration.
“After the stressful years of COVID-19, we were glad to be part of a conference where we could learn and network in a relaxed, laid-back setting. This event showed us again how important it is for us to stay part of this growing network in the future.”
Basma Barhan, HICS
Eric Asmar, Happysmala
“The MedUp project has given us a lot of opportunities to meet with new people and to develop new partnerships and to dig into some core elements of the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region. We know there is a lot to do and a lot to build. I’m impressed by the level of commitment of everyone here at the event to get started with this right now.”
“We shared our lessons learned, our programs, and talked about opportunities and future collaborations. It was really interesting to discover that we all have so much in common. It was very inspiring to spend time with this many people who share the same vision and aim towards similar social impact goals.”
Zeineb Fakhfakh, Impact Partner
Ibrahim Zalat, SEKEM
“I have connected with more than 40 changemakers of over 15 nationalities across the MENA region. Impact is all about these partnerships. Partnerships are about common journeys and about supporting each other tackling challenges. This is how we are going to help each other make more impact across the region.”