Jordanian leader creates opportunities for youth through social entrepreneurship
Youth career development is key for Jordan’s economic future. Boasting one of the youngest populations in the world – with 63% of citizens under the age of 30 – the status of young people impacts nearly every facet of Jordanian society. Despite a high level of access to education for both men and women, almost one third of Jordanian youth are unemployed. To help bridge this gap, Community Engagement Exchange Program (CEE) alum Rousl Al-Sardy (Jordan, 2022) founded Global Goals Local Actions (GGLA) as her follow-on Community Engagement Project.
At the final stage of their program, CEE fellows develop a Community Engagement Project (CEP) that addresses a critical area of need in their community. Rousl’s project, GGLA, aims to mobilize, inspire, and connect young Jordanians to work towards a more sustainable future through social entrepreneurship, using the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a catalyst. The project’s flagship – The Sustainable Goals and Social Entrepreneurship Summit for youth – was a two-day event focused on creating a platform for young people to learn about and engage with the SDGs and explore how social entrepreneurship can create opportunities for youth at home.
“I firmly believe that the youth hold the power to shape the future,” says Rousl. “For a brighter, healthier, and more cohesive world, our true investment lies in empowering young people to reimagine what is possible and rewrite the rules.”
Employing new skills to advance goals
The summit convened a group of 30 young leaders from various governates within Jordan to learn from expert social entrepreneurs, community development practitioners, and SDG advocates. Participants practiced the basics of sustainable development, examined case studies, and applied data and entrepreneurship principles to align local social enterprise initiatives with the SDGs. They also networked and exchanged ideas with entrepreneurs, activists, and community development experts to develop practical solutions to advance the SDGs in their local contexts. Following the summit, the participants collaborated to form seven social enterprise projects across Jordan, dedicated to the furtherance of the SDGs. The project was also supported by the US Embassy in Amman.
Reflecting on her experience in the CEE Program, Rousl credits her time as a CEE Fellow as important to helping her develop the skills and vision to realize her goals.
“During my participation in the CEE Program, I had the opportunity to enhance my storytelling skills, professionally articulate my project, and learn the necessary steps to present it effectively to potential sponsors, speakers, and collaborators,” remarked Rousl. “The weekly meetings and shared materials provided in the CEE program further equipped me with structural steps to lead and direct this project.”
Leveraging support through partnership
In addition to her executive team, Rousl solicited the involvement of her CEE Specialist Mentor, Shomy Chowdhury, a public health activist and SDG & youth engagement expert. A critical part of the CEE support system, CEE Specialists are experienced civil society leaders who provide fellows with support and guidance throughout the program. Shomy mentored Rousl during her three months in the United States with the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, providing support as she navigated the CEE Program and helping refine her Community Engagement Project plan.
To deepen their collaboration, Shomy and Rousl partnered on the inaugural CEPex reciprocal exchange grant, which allows a CEE specialist to travel in-person to a fellow’s home country to provide direct, in-person project support from an experienced civil society leader. Through CEPEx, Shomy traveled to Amman to speak at the summit in-person and advised Rousl directly as she managed the summit.
The GGLA project achieved great success with its inaugural summit. In its first three months of operation, the project reached over 500 beneficiaries and established collaborations with 13 private sector companies and NGOs. Currently the project is resuming its activities with the AlHussein fellowship alumni across Jordan.
Each fellow’s CEP represents the culmination of their learning through their three months in the United States, and a milestone in their leadership development journey as they become official program alumni. For Rousl and other fellows like her, the CEPex grant will continue to serve as a valuable accelerator for CEP impact, and a platform to build relationships throughout the CEE community across boundaries, borders, and years.