“We in the private sector, we entrepreneurs, we who have made it, have massive amounts of capabilities and knowledge and skills and network, but we have put ourselves outside of the development model” Fadi Ghandour, founder and vice-Chairman of Aramex told 150 attendees at the 3rd Jusoor Annual Global Conference. On Saturday, February 21, over 300 Syrians and friends of the Syrian cause, traveled from around the world to participate in Jusoor’s Third Annual Global Conference. The primary purpose was to support education and entrepreneurship for Syrian youth, and garner support from the global community. It was a gathering of hope, empowerment, and community.
Noting that creating meaningful jobs is perhaps the 21st century’s most overwhelming challenge, Fadi encouraged conference-goers to play an active role in nurturing healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems. “Jusoor is one of the organizations that is based on this very concept, to bridge the gap between a successful society and a needful one.”
Attendees also heard from partner at Sequoia Capital, Omar Hamoui, who focuses on mobile investment who stated, “anytime you are doing something different, you will face resistance”. Urging entrepreneurs to persist, Hamoui said, “Misses are learning experiences, just like Battleship.” Hamoui, founder of AdMob which was sold to Google for $750M in 2009, received a grand applause from an empowered audience.
Other speakers included Luisa Covaria the Impact Strategy Lead for OpenIDEO – IDEOs open innovation platform; Nonny de la Pena, pioneer in virtual reality and CEO of Emblematic Group; Hadi Aladdin and Marwan Aladdin CEO and COO of CoursePeer, entrepreneurs, published authors, speakers and start-up mentors.
Themed “Empowered Youth, Brighter Future” the one-day conference at UCLA featured keynote addresses and panel sessions led by experts in the fields of education, entrepreneurship, health, business, journalism, virtual reality, technology, media, and international development.
“For 3 years the Jusoor Annual Conference has given attendees life-changing opportunities to connect with Syrian youth and children and to create new initiatives and roadmaps to change their lives,” said Co-Founder and Executive Editor of News Deeply and Conference host Lara Setrakian. “The possibilities are endless when thousands of people come together with this much energy and I am proud to be part of this important day.”
In addition to the renowned keynotes, attendees heard from and participated in sessions led by internationally known experts – the best and brightest in their fields whose panels covered Refugee Education and Entrepreneurship. Among them Kinda Hibrawi, Innovative Education and Creative Director of Karam Foundation, and founder of Karam Foundation’s Zeitouna; Alexandra Chen, child protection and mental health specialist working with refugees in conflict and post-conflict zones; Rama Chakaki Co-Founder of BarakaBits, a new media venture delivering Good News from the Middle East; Ali Diab, Co-Founder and CEO of Collective Health, who provides invaluable inspiration and mentoring to Syrian and Arab entrepreneurs throughout Silicon Valley; Dr. Ossama Hassanein, entrepreneur, mentor, and venture capitalist, Chairman of Technocom Ventures, President of Newbridge Networks Holding and Chairman of the Rising Tide Fund in Silicon Valley.
The conference also featured the announcement of theJusoor Entrepreneurship Competition winners of 2015. First place prize worth $30,000 was granted to Afkar, Second place prize of $20,000 went to Sfkat and third place of $15,000 was given to Khatwa Network. In addition, 10 teams were granted a sponsorship to join the Oasis500 bootcamp in Amman, Jordan, these included: BitCode, KAFO, Dimashqi Istithmar Almawared, Nobelchemist, Apretab, Phoenix Logistics, Sahtak bi Jaybtak, Type Stage, Sela. The JusoorEntrepreneurship Competition was sponsored by Asfari Foundation and supported by Oasis500 and Alqtisadi.
Following the fruitful conference was the Jusoor Charity Gala Dinner that featured the works of renowned Arab artists such as Fadi Yazigi, Nja Mahdaoui, Nassouh Zaghlouleh, Houmam Alsayyed, and Mouneer Alshaarani. The auction followed by a round of donations raised over $300,000 in support of Jusoor’s education programs.
Sponsors of the event included: Rafia Gallery and Rafia Koudmani herself, who curated an exquisite collection of art for the charity art auction; Aramex, Lahlouh Inc., Europia, and Barakabits.