The Innovation Hub program, launched in 2021, is growing exponentially, and is enabling the region’s change-makers to bring a new MENA Enlightenment to life.
WHY The Innovation Hub?
Ideas Beyond Borders’ Founder explains:
The Innovation Hub idea is very simple. We are making it simpler for people who share our ideals of freedom to get funding and positively change their own societies.
At the simplest level, we provide small grants to people with good ideas. Without the bureaucracy, without the corruption and the red tape.
In 2015, I wrote an article on Intellectual Takeout that explains how it is easier for a terrorist group to get funding than a liberal one.
Extremists and authoritarians have a great advantage over liberals in the Middle East because they have the funding, they can put their ideas into practice and they are able to evolve and iterate over time. It takes as much time for ISIS to take an entire country as it takes to write a proposal for the State Department. The good guys can’t even get the funding to do something, much less compete with them.
It’s also the story of IBB. It took a group of believers who believed in me and my vision. We turned it into reality, without any tedious paperwork, without any 90 page proposals.
They saw an idea worth supporting. They saw that the idea of making knowledge available about freedom and critical thinking available in languages spoken in the Middle East was a good thing in itself.
Opportunities like the one I had in creating IBB in the United States simply don’t exist in the Middle East. The need for the Innovation Hub concept is immense.Our approach is inspired by the great economist and thinker Tyler Cowen’s Emergent Ventures who we were connected to through the help of one of our generous donors. In his own words, “it’s not just about the ideas, it is also about the people behind those ideas.
Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, Founder and President of Ideas Beyond Borders
WHO are the Innovation Hub Recipients?
Challenging Taboos in Jordan Through the Shezomedia Production: “You Think So” Show
Funded through an IBB microgrant, a video production called “You Think So” challenges taboo subjects in Jordan, such as: early marriage, people with disabilities and women’s rights. The show followed a popular Jordanian YouTube channel by the same founders – Osama Issa and Abu Lail. “There are some practices and behaviors that Jordanian society just doesn’t accept. We want to encourage people to embrace their differences.” says Lail.The goal is to bring under-represented issues into the mainstream public and break down barriers and misconceptions. Read more about Shezomedia in our blog here.
Sex Education Workshop for Former Slaves
Slavery still exists, and for many former slaves, the idea of making a choice for your own body can be foreign. In this initiative, IBB helps fund sex education to provide freedom of choice for the participants.
To learn more, visit the story on our blog: Confronting The Legacy of Slavery in Mauritania.
IBB Helps Syrian Refugees Overcome Language Barriers in Turkey
Through an IBB grant, the Arkili Academy, founded by 24 yr-old Hani Hamade, a Syrian refugee who sought refuge in Turkey when he was 16 years old, now teaches the over 3.7M Syrian refugees about Turkish culture, language and transition assistance. Hamade was able to hire more marketing and teaching staff. Read more about this initiative in our Innovation Hub blog here.
HOW are Innovators Selected?
Our decision making process is simple.
Number one: the project must be mission aligned.
Number two: We follow SMART principles. The project has to be SMART – they have to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time Bound.
You want equipment to start the first science podcast in Afghanistan? Yes.
You want support for critical thinking workshops in Iraq to fight misinformation and state run disinformation? Also yes.
You send us 50 slogans and nothing concrete? No, because you don’t have a specific idea that’s actionable.
For now, each project is vetted by a minimum of two people who are familiar with the proposed project topic and location. Ideally, projects must have the potential to be profitable or sustainable without outside support. As the program grows, the principles will remain the same.
Join us in keeping Innovation alive!