Julia Sayyed is ActionAid Arab Regional Initiative’s project coordinator in the Middle East. She has a background from the emergency field and has been working with ActionAid since 2014. Currently she is coordinating the youth social entrepreneurship cluster and is supporting youth to kickstart their own business idea to create social change in their communities in the region.
1. What motivates you in personal to work with youth on this field?
“I am an enthusiast when it comes to the Palestinian camps and to youth in our countries, the program touches upon real life problems that youth face every day and gives them a genuine opportunity to raise their voices as active citizens wand gives them the opportunity to build their social enterprises to serve themselves and their community. There is so much passion, creativity and commitment from our youth and I am very lucky to be able to see how they develop throughout the program and after wards and see them grow to own their own institutions.”
2. As a social entrepreneurship coordinator what problems do you think youth have in the Arab region?
“One of the biggest challenges for youth in the Arab region is the high rate of un-employment and lack of opportunities to explore their full potentials. Also a lot of youth are not given the opportunity to lead the change they want to see in their own communities. Promoting the concept of social entrepreneurship among youth in Jordan is one of our objectives to give them an alternative to be the leading agents through building up their own social enterprises rather than falling in the traditional roles of being an employee and keep the responsibility of addressing social/economic and environmental problems to other actors.“
3. Why did you choose Jabal Al Natheef and what problems do you think the communities have in Jordan?
“We wanted to target youth in Mohammad Amin Camp in Jabal Natheef, the camp has an un-official status and that is why neither the government nor the UNRWA is taking responsibility over the area. The camp is considered as a slum area that suffers from poverty, lack of water access, lack of security, high rates of school drop-outs and poor infrastructure.”
4. What role do you think ActionAid can have in the region by training youth in social enterprise?
“Guiding youth through exploring their potentials into taking on a leading role in their communities and eventually building up their active citizenship and leadership, and help create a new generation of social entrepreneurs in the most un-privileged areas in Jordan and Lebanon.”
5. How did you choose the participants? And what did the training focus on?
“The most important quality we are looking for the youth is the passion, the commitment and the drive to change pressing issues they face in everyday life. The training focuses on the business model Canvas which is a strategic management and entrepreneurial tool that allows them to describe, design, plan, challenge and invent their social enterprises ideas. We also work with youth groups and not individuals to promote collective thinking and mapping resources within each group for better outcomes."
6. What are you going to focus on in Lebanon – what's the problems there?
“We are at the moment looking for starting a pilot program in Lebanon targeting youth in one of the Palestinian camps. Palestine refugees represent an estimated ten per cent of the population of Lebanon. They do not enjoy several important rights; for example, they cannot work in many professions. Because they are not formally citizens of another state, Palestine refugees are unable to claim the same rights as other foreigners living and working in Lebanon. Among the five UNRWA fields, Lebanon has the highest percentage of Palestine refugees living in abject poverty. Around 53 per cent of the Palestine refugees in Lebanon live in the 12 recognized Palestine refugee camps, all of which suffer from serious problems, including poverty, overcrowding, unemployment, poor housing conditions and lack of infrastructure. Three other camps were destroyed during the course of the Lebanese Civil War, while a fourth was evacuated many years ago.”