Italian development expert introduces social entrepreneurship, funding for student social initiatives

“Each and every one of us has a disability, and it’s up to us as a society to help everyone overcomes the challenges they face,” said Giampiero Griffo, chairperson of the Italian Network on Disability and Development (RIDS), a group of organizations dedicated to improving development cooperation addressed to people with disabilities, at the “Social Entrepreneurship” Workshop, held at Birzeit University on June 25-26, 2018. 

The two-day workshop, organized by the Center for Development Studies, introduced “Let’s Start Up: Inclusive E-Self Employment,” a three-year project which encourages socially-responsible initiatives, with a focus on creating job opportunities for people with disabilities. 

The project, funded by the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and carried out by EducAid, brings together many Palestinian higher education institutions and civil society organizations, such as Birzeit University, An-Najah National University, the Ramallah & Al Bireh Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the Nablus Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and the Rantis Women Society. 

In addition to providing up to 3500 euros worth of funding to four to six social initiatives submitted by college students or graduates, the project will also train 60 women with disabilities and parents of children with disabilities on how to start, and sustain, a social initiative. A number of initiatives which exhibit the biggest social impact and economic sustainability will be incubated and funded by the project. 

Francesca Annetti, EducAid’s project manager in Palestine, said that the project aims to promote inclusiveness and social integration. “Everyone has abilities and the potential to benefit their immediate communities and the broader society,” she noted. “We must understand the characteristics that hinder inclusion, and work toward a more cohesive society.” 

“It’s our job as a society to achieve the level of social and cultural integration that would allow us to attain the economic, social, and political benefits of inclusiveness,” Griffo concluded, pointing to social initiatives as one of the key drivers of such integration. 

The second day of the workshop featured presentations by students on their submitted social initiatives, followed by group discussions on the projects themselves and methods to develop social entrepreneurship in Palestine.