1. Alexander Betts, Professor of Forced Migration and International Affairs and Director of the Refugee Studies Centre at the University of Oxford, and Yannick Du Pont, Co-founder and Director of SPARK, discuss the awkward state-of-play within the global foreign aid industry, reference instructive live case studies and attempt to define what “winning” at helping turbulent regions of the world navigate towards sustainable economic growth should look and feel like.
2. Two remarkable entrepreneurs in discussion. Morris Dougba, a second-generation Liberian cocoa farmer and graduate who fled to the US to escape civil war. Morris returned to Liberia and founded Green Gold Liberia, which produces charcoal briquettes using organic waste. Ayham Maksoud, founded a steel construction business called Al-Maksoud for Steel Constructions in Syria in 2011, before being forced to close due to the war. Remarkably, after reopening his business in Libya, the conflict followed him there. Finally, he was able to restart in Turkey.
3. Mustafa Othman is the Somali Co-founder and Communications and Technology Manager of an organisation called Shaqodoon which operates in Somalia and Somaliland. Shaqodoon, which translated to English means “job seeker”, was born out of a USAID funded youth empowerment project and now partners with SPARK to deliver entrepreneurship training to Somali youth.
4. Two separate conversations with senior executives at the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB), a recent partner of SPARK. Both exchanges yielded intriguing insight into the values, investment outlook and business MO of the world’s preeminent provider of sharia-compliant development finance.
5. Jordanian Raneem Muqbel is the co-founder of a social manufacturing enterprise called Teenah that works with Syrian refugees and their host communities in Jordan to produce high-quality custom printed bags for clients across the MENA region and in Europe. This conversation offers a brief glimpse into how entrepreneurship is being used to deliver social and economic gains in a country grappling with one of the world’s most severe refugee crises.
6. Alain Nkurukiye is a Corporate Strategy and Economic Policy MBA who hails from Burundi, but has lived and worked in the Netherlands for the better part of 10 years. Through his startup, Wajenzi, he aims to channel all his professional competencies into narrowing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) financing gap by stimulating the African Diaspora to invest systematically in their countries of origin.
7. Lauren Servin, the American Founder and “Chief Tree Officer” of the Desert Date Company. The Desert Date Company is a natural ingredient supplier and skincare brand based on the banks of the Nile River in Northern Uganda.