How Falafel Discussions Support Next-Gen Digital Entrepreneurs

In order to strengthen small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), a culture of resilience is needed — particularly through times of social innovation, which often foster sustainable wealth and growth.

Jordan-based nonprofit Tech Tribes is on a mission to empower young Arab innovators and entrepreneurs to become champions of sustainability. The organization provides skills and technical know-how to compete in the digital economy, improve local governance, and launch scalable digital innovations.

Due to regional political and financial instability, the organization developed a framework that brings together a network of more than 500 startups and SMEs, over 1,700 innovators, and more than 350 nonprofits to help scale and achieve financial growth while promoting sustainability. The network facilitates this through the provision of business development skills and resources, including training, market access, and strategy.

A strong programmatic capacity has enabled the organization to establish partnerships and achieve global reach, but formalizing its social innovation mission in the Arab world had been a challenge. Leveraging Information and Communications Technology for Development (ICT4D) — an initiative aimed at bridging the digital divide — to enhance livelihoods, create jobs, and support digital social innovations proved to be a difficult mission to achieve.

Bringing signature programs to market was also a challenge, especially branding, fundraising, and communication strategy. To deal with these challenges, the organization engaged SAP Social Sabbatical, a pro bono volunteering program with a mandate to help nonprofits and social entrepreneurs solve their strategic business challenges for sustained growth and impact.

SAP brought in a team of experts in business development to offer support. What began as an experiential lesson in leadership and social impact transformed an organization and a community.

The team introduced several exercises, such as technology mapping, fundraising, and marketing, to help the organization meet its challenges best unfold its core offerings. It became clear that work on rethinking and reshaping Tech Tribes’ identity, voice, and brand were key priorities. The initial scope of defining a “growth strategy” took a different — creative and highly visual — route. The team worked side-by-side with the content and design teams and provided vital input that would impact the organization as it is known today

“Thanks to SAP expertise, the SAP Social Sabbatical program helped give our organization a new voice and a clear offering,” Khaled Hijab, founder and executive director at Tech Tribes, shared. “We now talk and pitch with much more confidence. The exercise helped us reflect on our strongest assets and measure our social impact beyond mere numbers.”

Tech Tribes Continues the Fight for Digital Literacy

Today, Tech Tribes reaps the fruits of hard work as it continues to fight for everyone’s right to digital inclusion and literacy. The organization planning a June 2020 launch to offer the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) community a unique e-learning platform to amplify and make digital literacy and entrepreneurship education more accessible. The platform is envisioned to act as a new revenue stream to support content development on digital skills for personal and professional growth.

“The idea with the new e-learning platform is to open it to non-governmental organizations, donors, and trainers looking to digitize their content and publish e-courses in an Arabic platform without having to develop their own and worry about technical maintenance,” Hijab said. “They’ll be paying an annual fee to publish a certain number of courses and open classes for their learners with a dedicated dashboard. So far, we have reached out to 12 content partners who showed interest and are willing to pay the proposed annual fee. That’s a great successful first pilot.”

“Many good things have happened since the SAP Social Sabbatical team left Jordan,” he added. “Last year, Jordan hosted the first Digital Impact Summit, bringing together more than 300 attendees and resulting in significant media attention. Tech Tribes has also been exploring some very promising partnerships with companies like Google and Cisco, and is hoping to launch some exciting new programs this summer. The programs will focus on digital skills for personal and business growth, which perfectly fits with our digital literacy component.”

“Resilience has never been more important, especially for social sector organizations like Tech Tribes,” Hemang Desai, SAP Social Sabbatical program director at SAP, said. “We can all learn from the steps taken by Khaled and his team over the past couple of years to establish a strong foundation for success, no matter the challenges presented. Their leadership demonstrates why an investment in digital transformation matters, and how it can further amplify your reach. Their new e-learning platform will be instrumental to innovators driving change in the MENA region.”

Building solid grounds for regional expansion and franchising was a key discussion between the SAP Social Sabbatical and Tech Tribes teams. Pilot testing new approaches that would help achieve that regional growth was also a key recommendation from SAP. The organization quickly embraced it and put it to work.

“We are now in the process of recruiting new master trainers from across the MENA region to give our new partnerships a bigger impact and help introduce our free virtual programs to more vulnerable communities,” Hijab said.

In Jordan, people ask, “What’s a creative process without falafel and hummus?” There was no shortage of that — branding and marketing discussions were intense, shaping dialogues over lunch, traditional breakfasts, and even during fun hiking and tourist trips. As a result of the SAP team’s recommendations, new initiatives and projects were initiated to help strengthen Tech Tribes’ reach and amplify its voice.

SAP Social Sabbatical is an award-winning global pro bono volunteering portfolio, a signature initiative of the SAP Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team. The program is designed to both utilize and develop talent at SAP while helping nonprofits and social enterprises focused on digital inclusion to run at their best.

To learn more, visit the SAP Social Sabbatical area of sap.com.