I was in the West Bank this week to attend an event at Tomorrow’s Youth Organization’s flagship center in Nablus, Palestine: Reflecting on Five Years of Achievement in Nablus. Supporters and partners from Palestine, Jordan, and the United States gathered to celebrate the organization’s impact and progress made since we opened our doors to the community in March 2008.
The entire TYO community was thrilled to hear Chairman Sabih Masri’s enthusiastic support for our accomplishments this far (above). He surprised the crowd with a generous commitment to entrust TYO with the renovation and management of his father’s soap factory as a revenue-generating project. This is a game-changing opportunity for TYO that will both contribute to the organization’s sustainability and advance our mission to enhance Nablus as a cultural treasure. I’m honored that Inspiring Capital will play a central role in the strategy and roll out of this new venture.
Leading up to Mr. Masri’s announcement, Country Director Humaira Wakili discussed the results of each of TYO’s four program areas: early childhood, women’s empowerment, youth volunteerism, and international internships. She called on the audience to help TYO in the next five years, opening five new centers serving five new locations.
As TYO’s founding director, I invited the audience (like the Chairman of Coca Cola in Palestine, Zahi Khoury, above) to help TYO generate revenues (rather than collect donations) through mutually beneficial programs using TYO’s core competencies, such as English teaching, international connections, or positive PR, to meet their businesses’ needs.
To illustrate the potential for such win-win arrangements, TYO staff and participants talked about how their involvement with TYO has helped them. In the process of having truly life-changing impact for over 6,000 direct beneficiaries, TYO has provided satisfaction and growth for stakeholders and supporters as well. TYO psychosocial program manager, Suhad Jabi Masri, discussed the satisfaction she gains from working at TYO. As the only certified family therapist in the West Bank, she knows that the multigenerational and comprehensive approach that TYO uses is the best one to address the challenges facing our target groups. Leading an initiative as effective as TYO’s fulfills her desire to prepare and strengthen the next generation for her community and nation.
Sahar Dweikat, FlyerAd founder and participant in TYO’s women entrepreneurship programs since 2010, talked about how TYO has enabled her to live up to her long-time goal of starting her own business to change her community. TYO’s training, connections to advisors and mentors, and personal support has enabled her to build what has become a successful graphic design business. Her presentation skills were visibly improved following her TYO-related trips to Washington DC and the GE training center in New York.
TYO Core Child Program Teacher Mohammad Abulkibash (below) said he found TYO to be the first place he could live up to his potential when he began as a university volunteer three years ago. With TYO’s support, he has been awarded a Fulbright fellowship to teach English at Florida State University for a year, starting in August. He hopes to use that experience to improve the teaching quality in Palestine when he returns to continue his career in public service (with TYO we hope!) after the fellowship.
Former TYO intern, Colin Powers, offered his perspective on the benefit of working with TYO as an American. He credited the learning from multiple stints as a TYO volunteer with much of his passion for and success in the Master’s Degree he’s pursuing at Johns Hopkins SAIS. He also recognized the major impact of TYO’s uniquely hands-on approach to development.
In true TYO style, the event included an illustrious VIP section as well as children from our core program, volunteers from An Najah University, and American interns. It was the first visit by Mr. Sabih Masri since he was appointed Chairman of TYO this spring. Reflecting TYO’s status as the only American NGO based in the northern West Bank, Consul General Michael Ratney came from the US Consulate in Jerusalem for his first visit to TYO since reporting for duty in Jerusalem.
The rest of the VIP section included: Ms. Anan Atteereh, Vice Governor of Nablus; Mr. Ammar Akkar, CEO of PalTel Group; Mr. Munib Masri, Chairman of PADICO; Mr. Farouk Toukan, international businessman and PADICO board member; Mr. Zahi Khouri, CEO of Palestinian National Beverage Company; and Mrs. Asma Masri, Nablus Municipality and TYO local representative.
Our women’s entrepreneurship program partners were represented by Ms. Samah Abuoun, General Manager of the PalTel Group Foundation, and Mr. Ahmed Abu Baker, Director General of the Small Enterprise Center.
Conversations following the event inspired confidence that Mr. Masri’s commitment will catalyze several other collaborative ventures providing revenue for TYO. For example, hours after the event, Zahi Khouri agreed to support international interns. We are excited about the potential – and aware of the challenges – of these opportunities. By developing income streams to support our work, we’ll be able to focus on program strategy and delivery rather than fundraising.
Now more than ever, support from TYO’s board is crucial, both in the form of financial investments and business savvy. We look forward to your feedback about these new revenue-generating ventures and other, related opportunities.