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Expanding Entrepreneurship

MEPI Alumni of the U.S. - Saudi Women's Forum on Social Entrepreneurship with Ekmelelddin Ihasanughlo, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Saudi Arabia. © Naqa'a Environmental Enterprise
MEPI Alumni of the U.S. - Saudi Women's Forum on Social Entrepreneurship with Ekmelelddin Ihasanughlo, the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference; Saudi Arabia.


Entrepreneurship is a key vehicle to improve economic conditions and expand job creation and social change in the MENA region. MEPI is committed to fostering economic and social entrepreneurship to unlock innovation, spur private sector development, and create new employment opportunities for the region’s young population.

Recent Projects

Saudi Arabia - The U.S.-Saudi Women’s Forum on Social Entrepreneurship enriches the lives of women and their communities through the application of business and leadership skills to social needs, while generating societal and economic value. With Dar al Hekma as the lead Saudi partner, and Babson College and Wellesley College providing the content and academic guidance, ICF International has delivered a break-through program that has empowered a group of 100 female college students to take leadership roles in their communities through social enterprises - a first of its kind in Saudi Arabia. The women have been implementing projects to advocate and raise awareness of recycling, volunteerism, diabetes, disability rights, and discrimination across Jeddah. Through the program, they have learned entrepreneurship skills, how to use online social marketing effectively, and the importance of civic activism. Most importantly, they have used what they have learned to help their communities.  For example, when Jeddah was recently hit with devastating floods, these dedicated activists used their newly-acquired skills to organize online campaigns to clean up the city and hold public officials accountable.

Region-wide - MEPI has invested $4 million in fiscal years 2009 and 2010 in youth entrepreneurship, including $1.5 million for its “Generation Entrepreneur Project” which will empower 22,000 young people throughout the Middle East to begin their own entrepreneurial ventures.  National and regionwide competitions among student-led businesses will identify one hundred winners to receive $1,000 each to scale up and continue their work.  A reality-TV crew will follow the selected young entrepreneurs to document their challenges and successes.  The resulting show will be broadcast regionally. 

Egypt - MEPI is also providing $1.5 million to finance “Project Liftoff” in Egypt, Libya and Morocco to support emerging high-impact entrepreneurs. These young people will be encouraged to embrace innovation, risk-taking, and further develop their business skills.  In Yemen, MEPI projects will reach an estimated 30,000 secondary students and rural youth to promote entrepreneurship with a social and environmental focus, offering young people a brighter future and helping them to become active citizens.