The Need
With the Middle East still reeling with intractable violence, political instability and economic uncertainties, many observers are asking the ominous question: What comes next? Much of the recent media focus has been on the many regional conflicts, sectarian strife and the need for political reforms, but very little attention has been paid to economic reform, which is essential for future peace, prosperity and security in this strategic area of the world.

Economics and demographics were two of the most powerful factors contributing to the Arab Spring uprisings in 2011 and continue to underlie many of the critical problems that the region faces today. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, despite their rich natural resources of oil and gas, have the highest regional youth unemployment rate in the world with 27.2 percent of those under 25 years old being unemployed. Corruption and burdensome government bureaucracies have also severely restricted most formal enterprise and forced the rest into a vibrant but restrictive informal economy. In addition to these problems, the MENA region suffers from extreme income inequality, pervasive religious intolerance and discrimination, and gender inequality which have all contributed substantially to deep divisions in the societies and economic stagnation.

Faith-based social entrepreneurship can be a powerful solution for the problems of the MENA region. By blending both financial sustainability (through profit-making) with a prioritization of social mission and impact, biblically-grounded social enterprises can contribute to economic development and social reconstruction without the overbearing bureaucracy and regulation that inhibits growth. Social entrepreneurship is also particularly well suited to young Christians. It not only taps into their desire to make a difference in the world, but it also reflects their biblical worldview that incorporates the values and principles of love, forgiveness, compassion, generosity, and justice. To learn more about faith-based social entrepreneurship, please go to our
What is Social Entrepreneurship page and Resources page. 

We believe what is needed in the MENA region at this critical time in its history is a robust social entrepreneurship movement to help revitalize economies and create jobs while protecting and nourishing fragile societies and environments. We also are convinced that young Christians from the MENA region (although small in numbers) are well suited to help initiate, support and provide leadership for this type of movement. However, for Christians in the Middle East to be able to accomplish this, they will need to work cooperatively with their brothers and sisters in Christ from all denominations, as well as actively collaborate with those of other faith backgrounds. To this end, we have developed, the Middle East Faith & Social Entrepreneurship Project.

*For more information on the urgent need and potential for social entrepreneurship in the Middle East, please read a special research report from the Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution, entitled: 
Social Entrepreneurship in the Middle East - Toward Sustainable Development for the Next Generation.

Purpose and Goals
The purpose of this project is to educate Christians in the Middle East about the concept, principles and practices of faith-based social entrepreneurship and demonstrate its potential to promote sustainable economic development, help solve the problems of poverty, and bring credibility and acceptance to the Gospel message. This project will primarily involve a series of introductory presentations, training seminars, and online resources that will target Christian undergraduate and graduate students, and young adults in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Middle East Faith & Social Entrepreneurship Project is being designed to achieve the following goals and desired outcomes:

1. To introduce Christian students and young professionals in the Middle East to a different model of private enterprise that combines economic, social, and environmental value creation (the concept of triple bottom-line accountability). 

2. To give aspiring Christian social entrepreneurs the inspiration, preliminary training, and access to expertise and resources needed to create innovative solutions to the problems associated with poverty and regional conflict through faith-based social enterprise development. 

3. To allow Christians in the Middle East (where they are often the persecuted minority religious group) to gain respect and influence by starting new social-purpose businesses that create jobs and promote mutual trust, cooperation, and community development. 

4. To preserve and strengthen the Christian communities in the Middle East by creating new economic opportunities that will encourage more Christians to remain in Middle East where they can become transformational agents in their societies. 

5. To demonstrate how Christian social enterprise development can redefine the role of business as the primary engine of wealth creation, thereby creating a new economic paradigm that would better reflect and promote biblical values and mandates.

Programs and Services

Seminars, Lectures and Presentations – Faith, Social Enterprise & Transformational Development: this program group will form the core of the Faith & Social Entrepreneurship Project and consist of 1-2 day introductory training seminars, and shorter lectures and presentations that will include the following focus areas: 

  • Biblical Perspectives on Global Poverty and Justice: What do the scriptures have to say about the interrelated issues of: poverty, social and economic justice, peacemaking and stewardship of God’s creation? 

  • Christian Social Entrepreneurship: An exploration of the principles and best practices of biblically-based social entrepreneurship and how the development of social enterprises can provide effective solutions to poverty, create jobs, promote sustainable transformational development, and advance the Gospel message. 

  • The Characteristics of a Successful Social Entrepreneur: A discussion of the qualities (like vision, risk-taking, creativity, resilience, etc.) found in common in social entrepreneurs and how those qualities and skills can be developed. 

  • The Regional Context for Social Entrepreneurship: An exploration of how social enterprise development can address specific economic, social and environmental problems that are found in the Middle East today. Social enterprise models and case studies will be examined and discussed.

  • Social Enterprise & Peacebuilding: A look at how the development of social enterprises can help to promote not only job creation and economic development but also peacemaking and reconciliation, by alleviating many of the problems that lead to conflict, and by building mutual trust and cooperation among groups divided by religious, ethnic and tribal differences. 

  • Field Trips: Visits and meetings with the founders and staff of innovative companies and organizations that best exemplify the concept of mission-driven and value-centered social enterprise.

  • Brainstorming Session and Next Steps: A guided session that will allow the students to discuss what they have learned during the seminar and explore new ideas together for innovative enterprise solutions to poverty, injustice and other problems of the Middle East. The students will then be provided with counseling and resources that will help them connect with academic and online training programs and organizations that can provide more advanced training, career planning assistance, and mentoring in the area of faith-based social entrepreneurship.  

Also, social entrepreneurs who have already reached the concept stage for a new social enterprise will be referred to a start-up accelerator program such as the 
Global Social Benefits Institute (GSBI) at Santa Clara University in Silicon Valley that our organization is collaborating with. 

The seminars, lectures and presentations described above will be offered in the Middle East at the regional conferences of Christian student ministry organizations, and at theological seminaries and ministry centers in the summer of 2017. CFGE has already established partnerships with many of these ministries and institutions in the Middle East that have expressed interest in providing this type of introductory training to their students and other constituents. 

Train-the-Trainer Programs:
 CFGE will design a program format for training and equipping regional trainers so they can develop and deliver the Faith & Social Entrepreneurship seminars at conferences, seminaries and ministries in the Middle East. We hope that some of the former participants in CFGE’s seminars can become these new trainers along with staff at the student ministries and seminaries. 

Online Faith & Social Enterprise Community: 
Using our Facebook and LinkedIn pages we will create a communications and collaboration platform that alumni of CFGE programs and other aspiring Christian social entrepreneurs can use to network, share ideas and collaborate on joint social venture projects.  

Model for Future Projects
Based on the achievements and lessons learned from the Middle East Faith & Social Entrepreneurship Project, CFGE will develop similar projects in future years for Christians in other developing areas of the world in Africa, Latin America, India, and Southeast Asia. 

Call for Support 
As an organization, we recognize that the Middle East Faith & Social Entrepreneurship Project will require the partnership and support of many other individuals, organizations, businesses, churches and ministries both in the Middle East and U.S. We have already developed many of these partnerships, but welcome the involvement of others who see value in what we are trying to accomplish. If you wish to collaborate with us in some way to help us achieve the goals of this project, please contact us at: info@faithandglobaleducation.org or give us a call at 650.369.6640.  

We are also actively seeking financial support for our Christian Social Entrepreneurship Education Fund that will provide scholarships for students interested in enrolling in social entrepreneurship training programs. If you would like to make a contribution to our organization for this special fund, please go to the Supporting CFGE page on our website and designate your contribution for this specific purpose. 

Click here to learn about: Faith-Based Social Entrepreneurship and additional Resources