The Challenge:

When Ana Aqra first applied to Alfanar they had considered scaling but had no idea how to turn a small, grassroots literacy organization into a sustainable business model prepared for growth. It was 2012, a refugee crisis had overtaken Lebanon - a country which today has a population in which 40% of the children drop out of school because they cannot read. How could Alfanar help Ana Aqra provide the full scope of literacy and create the internal and external capacity to scale to more children, more quickly and sustainably?


 The Work:

Ana Aqra works with Lebanese elementary public schools to advance literacy through Arabic language programs that build teachers’ capacity to provide the a proven method of teaching to struggling readers, helping children from 4-14 become readers and independent learners.

Alfanar’s team saw the value of Ana Aqra’s program from the start. As they do with each chosen organisation, Alfanar’s program directors immediately became a part of the Ana Aqra team, with hands on guidance, leadership, management consulting and networking. Working with the entire staff, Alfanar helped the organisation at a higher business level – from revisiting its organisation chart to staff business training, giving the whole team a business education and mentorship impossible to access for social enterprises in the country.

Through workshops, guidance and mentorship they create the environment to think beyond conflicts of interest, beyond what works now, to help each other begin to see business vision and find the tools to make decisions together.

Rima Musallam, Executive Director of Ana Aqra

The two teams forged a true partnership. Together they built a business plan to scalability, sustainability and growth. Armed with this plan and inspired by a study mission to the Hippocampus Learning Centres in India, Ana Aqra created a new social enterprise unit, which provides teacher-training services and educational resources. A proven model of teacher training that could be provided as a product offered to educators – a solution that would expand social reach with speed, while building the financial sustainability.

“They allowed us to dream within the framework and the tools it takes to make that dream real – not a dependency but a true partnership.” says Rima.


The Impact:

At the beginning of its work with Ana Aqra, the organisation had 12-15 employees. Today it has over 107 full time and 700 part time teachers. The organisation continues to evolve and expand, not just in its model but its vision. They look to take their own intellectual capital and put it to work as an Institute of research and educator development. “They helped us with everything from why it’s important to create a smart logo and image to the redefining of the backbone of our work, helping us build a model for sustainable financial viability and social impact.”

Beyond its new social enterprise unit, Ana Aqra has also expanded its services to include non-formal education pathways conducted in learning centres. To counter obstacles of access they now offer two mobile learning centres as products that travel to remote areas as a first step to school.

Ana Aqra recovered all the costs of its social business unit in a two-year time span.

Read more about Ana Aqra here