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Social Entrepreneurship Empowers Disability JusticeThe MIT Enterprise Forum (MITEF) is carrying out its 16th edition Pan-Arab Startup Competition. Since 2016, the yearly program awards competitors in three categories: ideas, startups and social entrepreneurship. The competition highlights how social entrepreneurship empowers disability justice, among other issues. Winners receive equity-free funding based on scalability, social impact, financial sustainability and innovation. Participants receive top-notch mentoring from some of the leading minds in entrepreneurship and technology, and they also gain networking opportunities with a global entrepreneurial community and investors.

Social Entrepreneurship Track

Social entrepreneurship is quickly gaining popularity in the world of innovation. It is an initiative that pursues an innovative idea to address the root causes of communal issues such as poverty, water scarcity, disability justice and much more.

MIT recognizes the potential of social entrepreneurship. Hala Fadel, the Founder and Chair of MITEF Pan-Arab, commented that “the entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem has reached an inflection point as 450-plus alumni are leading their way through the domains of renewable energy, sustainable agriculture and environmental infrastructure.”

Money goes into social businesses to create social impact, not to maximize dividends on investment. Without pressure from opportunistic stockholders to optimize profit, these peace-driven projects can expand impact and be self-sustaining and ethical.

A fundamental principle of social entrepreneurship is a pledge to higher than standard working conditions and wages. These initiatives provide proper employment for locals who are working to confront their communities’ problems. The emergence of this new wave of entrepreneurship is productive for social health, innovation and middle-class development. Social entrepreneurs may become major drivers of poverty reduction action in the future.

Social Business Highlight: Entaleq

Entaleq, one of the program’s successful alumni, is a mobile phone application aiming to improve accessibility for people with disabilities in Egypt. The Helm Foundation developed the app, and the nonprofit works to fight poverty and domestic violence.

The Helm Foundation’s mobile app positively influences people’s lives in North Africa. Entaleq allows users to comment and review locations that have disability access. The Helm Foundation also helps build and advocate for accessibility infrastructure in Egypt. As the 2020 winner of MITEF’s social entrepreneurship track, Entaleq hopes to reach the global market shortly.

Disability Justice and Poverty Reduction

Disability justice is essential for global poverty alleviation. According to a report from the International Labor Organization (ILO), people with disabilities are typically among the world’s poorest demographics, especially in low-income countries. According to a U.N. report, people with disabilities are likely 7% to 10% of any nation’s population.

Furthermore, there is an undeniable connection between disability, conflict and poverty. War continues to wound the bodies and minds of people around the world. People from conflict-heavy areas are more likely to have limited support and decreased job opportunities. A focus on disability justice is vital for recently post-conflict countries as they navigate reconstruction and poverty reduction.

Disability justice is often limited to caregiving. However, conceptions of disability justice may expand to more inclusive design and improvements to daily living which the Entaleq app does in Egypt.

How MIT’s Annual Pan-Arab Competition Helps Entrepreneurs

MIT’s annual Pan-Arab Competition is sure to bring together some of the brightest young entrepreneurs in the Middle East and North Africa. Participants will gain valuable training and exposure to a global network of innovators. Successful startups receive equity-free funding to advance projects. MITEF’s ideas, startup and social entrepreneurship tracks offer several routes for budding innovators.

Entaleq won funding in the 2020 social entrepreneurship track. The platform allows people to review disability accessibility at locations around Egypt. There are deep intersections between disability and poverty, and this technology enhances app users’ mobility and agency. Innovative social initiatives such as Entaleq prioritizing community care are making transformative impacts, showing how social entrepreneurship empowers disability justice.

MITEF’s Pan-Arab competition may be used as a model for sprouting innovation. Government funding in social entrepreneurial education will reap benefits, from local communities to the macro global economy. The MITEF Pan-Arab Competition’s proven success is designing a new identity for the world of technology and innovation.

– Samson Heyer
Photo: Flickr