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Jordanian social entrepreneur named in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list

By Suzanna Goussous - Jan 14,2014 - Last updated at Jan 14,2014

AMMAN — A Jordanian activist has been listed among the top social entrepreneurs in the world in the under-30 category by Forbes magazine.

Kamel Asmar won the acclamation for his work through www.nakhweh.org, a web-based network of social volunteers in the Arab world.

Asmar was listed among 29 other revolutionary global social entrepreneurs, two of whom are also Arabs from Egypt and Bahrain.

To prepare the “30 Under 30” list of social entrepreneurs for 2014, Forbes staff collected and reviewed over 100 applications, after which the candidates were presented to a panel of judges who selected the winners, according to the magazine.

“Nakhweh” is Arabic for “chivalry or willingness to help people in need”. Nakhweh.org has been encouraging volunteerism in Jordan since 2009, connecting individuals through volunteering opportunities in the Kingdom.

The work of this NGO later expanded to reach most of the Arab countries.

For Asmar, the initiative was a combination of “a personal passion to give” and his technical background to see how they would “blend together”.

The main aim of Nakhweh.org is to spread awareness and the spirit of volunteerism among individuals in Jordan and the Arab world, he said in a telephone interview.

In 2013, Nakhweh launched “the first directory of social work in the Arab world”, making it the “first volunteerism and development network in the area”, according to a statement from the NGO.

This year, the organisation launched “Al Deewan”, a crowd sourcing and online volunteering project to expand its database of volunteers by including people from all over the Arab world.

Asmar is now planning on providing companies with programmes for employees to volunteer in activities all around the Kingdom and the Arab world.

“The initial start of Nakhweh was not so easy,” he told The Jordan Times.

Social media was not very popular or widespread in the Arab world in 2009, the social entrepreneur said, adding that the concept of being a web-based entrepreneur was rejected by the public at first.

“But after the social media revolution, people figured out its importance and it became part of their daily life. The company was able to stand on its own subsequently and started creating events.”

Volunteerism, according to Asmar, is more of a lifestyle than a career.

“Every person has something to give, so it’s always a two-way relationship,” he said, quoting one of his role models, Rabee Zureikat, the founder of the Zikra initiative, which seeks to bridge the gap between the Kingdom’s urban communities and the local marginalised communities by exchanging resources and skills.

Locally, Asmar is a recipient of the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievements grant in 2011, according to the Nakhweh statement.

Internationally, he received an Ashoka Fellowship for social entrepreneurs in 2012.

“I’m a proud Jordanian citizen who’s representing his country in such a very important and credible list and magazine,” the statement quoted him as saying.

“The social entrepreneurship scene in Jordan is definitely impressive and I’ve been inspired by many of my fellow Jordanian change makers who became role models for the youth and for their fellow social entrepreneurs and activists globally.”

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