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.  Fourteen years later, we retain that same bold vision of education, empowerment, equity and hope.

Alfanar’s Board of Trustees, supportive committees, dedicated team and numerous individual, corporate, and institutional supporters are working together to realise the dream of an Arab world where the poor and vulnerable can access the education and opportunities they need to lead productive and dignified lives. 

Our aim - with each social investment we make - is to empower individuals and communities to overcome the challenges of poor education and exclusion from the workforce, in order to realise their potential and to create brighter futures for their families. 

When we 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 and we are proud to play our part in growing and refining the ecosystem by investing in both non-profits and social purpose companies, providing 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), testing the effectiveness of an online education platform serving 900,000 children per month (Nafham), sustainably enabling disadvantaged women and youth in Lebanon to secure full-time employment and dignity (ShareQ), or transforming the futures of over 7,000 widows across Minya, Egypt through training and microcredit (Future Eve), Alfanar is providing a sustainable lifeline to those most in need.

                       

Alfanar Today              

In 2018 we provided £1.09 million of financing to 18 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 one-third.

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 glue to Alfanar’s venture philanthropy work and the way we ensure and multiply the value of each social investment.

At a time when it is hard to trust the facts and numbers one reads, we are proud to report that our due diligence and monitoring system focuses on that which we can reliably track and report on.  Using business intelligence technology, we can confidently report that in 2018 alone, our portfolio of active investments across Egypt, Lebanon and refugee communities directly employed, empowered and educated 14,986 women, youth and children in need.  Furthermore, our investees self-generated £1,103,685 in revenue for themselves, making great strides to reduce 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.  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 we hope to share with you is the rigour, commitment and passion we bring to each social venture we back.  We hope that you will feel inspired to give and support, in any way you can, to help us grow this movement, to invest in profits with purpose, and to empower tomorrow, today.