Moving On Up
Jordan’s young social entrepreneurs go global
Award-winning Jordanian social entrepreneur Majd Alqatanani, 19, was always determined to make his homeland better but growing up, he didn’t quite know how.
Yet through UPSHIFT, UNICEF’s flagship social innovation programme, Majd turned concerns about air pollution, the environment and the need for more green space into a ground-breaking social business.
“If you fly into to [Jordan’s Capital of] Amman you won’t see much green,” Majd says. “Jordan is also experiencing rapid population growth, so we need to keep the air clean to stay healthy.”
With UNICEF support, Majd founded ‘Green Mark,’ a landmark social business that offers landscaping and gardening services for rooftops, playgrounds and public space. Three years on, it’s going from strength to strength.
“It all started back when I joined the UPSHIFT programme,” Majd explains.
The UPSHIFT way
UPSHIFT helps young people build crucial, transferable skills such as problem-solving, creativity and collaboration. Uniquely tailored to each location, it works to empower adolescents, boost civic engagement and strengthen entrepreneurship, both as a skillset and a state of mind.
“In the UPSHIFT training, we saw how the environment impacts on health, psychology and even tourism, so we decided help make our country greener, healthier and more beautiful.
We also learned how to choose and deal with our customers, promote our projects and overcome all kinds of challenges.”
Moving on up
In 2018 Majd and his team presented the idea to Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, and from there he was enrolled in the 2019 ‘Jordan Innovates’ bootcamp to garner more support.
“We’re looking to transfer Green Mark’s success across the Kingdom,” Majd says. “We’re already seeing interest in other cities.”
‘Green Mark’ was selected as a social-business success story to highlight the United Nations’ World Youth Report on Youth Social Entrepreneurship and the 2030 Agenda that was launched today.
The report shows how youth-driven social entrepreneurship can boost opportunities for young people, build better societies and help realise the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, which aim to boost peace, end poverty and protect the planet by 2030.
For young social entrepreneurs to succeed, they typically need a solid business and regulatory environment, entrepreneurial education and training, the report explains.
“UPSHIFT is all about giving young people the skills, tools and confidence they need to realise their full potential and solve problems in their own communities,” says Kat Crisp, Innovation Specialist with UNICEF.
“From its start in Kosovo back in 2014, we’re delighted that UPSHIFT can now help such talented young people like Majd in 23 countries around the world today.”