AYB – Association For Sustainable Development

Following the Jan 25th revolution and the explosion of civil society initiatives and social activism, I have taken a personal interest in improving the information availability and transparency in the market regarding operational NGOs and initiatives. To this end, this blog post is the first of a series of posts shedding light on successful existing initiatives and NGOs that you may opt to join rather than re-invent the wheel whenever possible.

Alashanek Ya Balady (AYB) started out as a student initiative at the AUC in 2002. Raghda El Ibrashi, the founder, even at that young age, recognized the need for real development rather than charity. AYB grew inside the university, and two years later they obtained the license to open branches in other universities around the nation through a franchise model. To date they have branches in 15 universities around Egypt. In 2005 AYB was institutionalized as an NGO.

Recognizing unemployment as the greatest ailment of Egypt, and as one of the key causes of poverty and slow growth, AYB’s main area of focus has been economic development. Their model has two tracks, the formal employment track and the entrepreneurial track. Their strategy has been developed over the years and fueled by statistics about the real needs of the market. For example, according to the Egypt 2010 Human Development Report “over a third (36%) of youth aged 18 to 29 have been tracked into vocational and technical secondary schools. This group does not usually join higher education institutions and suffices with technical secondary completion certificates.” Moreover, most of those unemployed are living below the poverty line. At the current unemployment ratios and a labour force of around 26 million, the dependency rate is 4:1 (4 unemployed to every working member of the labour force). Ninety per cent of those unemployed are youth.

Accordingly, AYB are targeting youth in poor areas and those who are without higher degrees. Beneficiaries of AYB programs can be divided into two groups. The first group consists of those who can be trained and rehabilitated to join formal employment. The second group consists of people with almost no educational background, who nevertheless have promising entrepreneurial skills.

In the first track AYB bridges the gap between a person’s current skill set and the required skill set. They provide specialized training programs tailored to each industry and job, and aims at improving the job skills and job knowledge of the candidates. Their target is to help those individuals find employment at established institutions and ensure they earn a fair wage. This is done in partnership with a growing list of local and multinational players.

In the second track, AYB assists individuals through a micro-lending and technical assistance setup. Interested applicants are required to prepare a feasibility study and be ready to manage the project. Loan brackets are either from 350 to 2500 LE (Egyptian Pounds) or 3000 to 10000 LE. AYB finances these micro-entrepreneurs and consults them throughout the loan period (10 to 12 months).

AYB specializes in the following loan types:
• Manufacturing loan (e.g. mechanic, carpets).
• Productive loan (e.g. dairy and breeding).
• Consumer goods (e.g. maintenance services, mini-marts or specialized retailers).
• Agricultural products (e.g. farming and agro-industries).

The loan cycle is portrayed in the diagram below:

If you find the work of AYB interesting, there are various areas where you can volunteer. You can donate money to the funding pool for micro-loans. Or, if you have the time and technical expertise to spare, you can volunteer your assistance in project consultancy and/or provide training. Another method by which you could pitch in would be to ask the HR at the company you work with to announce their recruiting needs: your employer could become a candidate for those graduating from AYB’s first track. You could also volunteer your time in the actual NGO – AYB prides itself on being a youth organization and always welcomes the contribution of young enthusiastic individuals.

You can read more about AYB, their initiatives and their success stories at http://www.ayb-sd.org/

This post was originally featured on the Goethe Institut Li-lak Transit blog 🙂

Check it out here http://blog.goethe.de/transit/index.php?user_language=en

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2 thoughts on “AYB – Association For Sustainable Development

  1. This is an excellent initiative. Another similar initiative that comes to my mind is the one pioneered by the One Acre Fund (OAF) in Kenya. The OAF focuses on agriculture but I think the blueprint of the program model can be replicated elsewhere as well. Essentially the sustainable development program of OAF includes a component where the farmers (entreprenuers such as manufacturers in the AYB plan would come close to this) are given support to tap into the global value chain in the Global markets. More on OAF’s program model at : http://www.oneacrefund.org/how_it_works/program_model

    The idea is knowledge/skills sharing backed by insurance and market access support. The market could be domestic or international.
    This fills a gap that poor but talented youth are otherwise saddled with due to social,economic and other reasons that are out of their control.

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