Backing Bold Social Entrepreneurs in the Middle East When our late founder Tarek Ben Halim left investment banking to establish Alfanar, he wanted his skills from private investment and finance to tangibly improve lives. He had a vision of building strong, self-reliant civil society institutions that could transform communities, countries and an Arab region lagging behind others. Fifteen years later, we retain that same bold vision of education, empowerment, equity and hope. By working together, Alfanar’s dedicated team, trustees, committees, and numerous individual, corporate and institutional supporters, are helping to realise an Arab world where the poor and vulnerable can finally access the education and opportunities they need to lead productive and dignified lives. Within each of our social investments, our aim is to empower individuals and communities, helping them to overcome the challenges of poor education or exclusion from the workforce, in order to allow them to realise their potential, creating a brighter future for the Arab region. When Alfanar began applying venture philanthropy strategies in Egypt in 2004, the term ‘social enterprise’ was only just emerging as a concept in the Arab world. We set the standard by focusing our financial and management support on social purpose organisations that were trying to develop trading revenue as a way of reducing their dependence on donations. Today social entrepreneurship is a movement backed by research, competitions, incubators and accelerators. We are proud to play our part in growing and refining the ecosystem by investing in both non-profits and social purpose companies, providing both growth-stage grants and zero-interest loans. Whether seeding the first food truck wholly owned and run by refugee women in Lebanon (Women’s Program Association/Soufra), enabling disadvantaged women and youth in Lebanon to secure dignity and full-time employment (ShareQ), or transforming the futures of over 13,000 widows across Minya, Egypt through training and microcredit (Future Eve), Alfanar is providing a sustainable lifeline to those most in need. Alfanar Today In 2019 we provided £792,112 of financing to 17 ambitious social enterprises and added four new investees to the portfolio. Furthermore, through the support of over 1,000 donors, including many generous partners who prefer to remain unnamed, we were able to grow our direct impact on communities by 30%. We match each £30,000 grant we make with £16,000 worth of high-engagement management support, taking the form of weekly accountability calls, monthly in-person visits, networking connections, training and business planning, and global exchange opportunities. This is the real core to Alfanar’s venture philanthropy work: investment and loans provide opportunities for growth, but our expertise and mentorship ensure and multiply the value of each social investment. At a time when facts and figures seem harder to trust than ever before, Alfanar is proud to report that our due diligence and monitoring systems ensure that all the information we release is robust and reliable. Using business intelligence technology, we can confidently report that in 2019 alone, our portfolio of active investments across Egypt, Lebanon and refugee communities directly employed, empowered and educated 19,366 women, youth and children in need. Furthermore, our investees self-generated over £1.1 million in revenue for themselves, representing a 12% improvement compared with 2018, making great strides in reducing their dependence on charity. But behind the measurable targets we set, and the hard numbers we report on, is a desire to stem the tide of despair, injustice, and chronic poverty rising across the Arab region. But behind the measurable targets we set, and the hard numbers we report on, is a desire to stem the tide of despair, injustice, and chronic poverty rising across the Arab region. It is why we are on the hunt for social enterprises that want to build systems that educate hundreds of thousands of children, provide steady employment to thousands of marginalised women and youth, and ensure that families can securely seize opportunities into the future. It is why we are not satisfied with one-off or feel-good projects, but are insistent on investing in social ventures with strong management teams, clear revenue models and a pathway to sustainability. What Alfanar wishes to share is the rigour, commitment and passion we bring to every social enterprise we back. We hope that those who see our work will feel inspired to give and support us, in any way they can, to help us grow this movement, to invest in profits with purpose, and to empower tomorrow, today.