I first met Alhassan Omar, a UR freshman and graduate of the African Leadership Academy, at January  Orientation. Just minutes after meeting him, I found myself absorbed in his stories of Egypt Ability, a program that he had created in collaboration with his peers back in his native Egypt.

Egypt Ability’s goal is to use the up-and-coming generation of visionary entrepreneurial change-makers to create a developed and peaceful Egypt. Through entrepreneurial leadership workshops, Egypt Ability empowers youths to realize their full potential and to contribute to their societies.

As one of the many great endeavors being pursued by UR students, this organization holds great promise and has incredible potential.

Omar was inspired by his diverse high school educational experience at the African Leadership Academy. During his time at school, although “the [political] leadership did change,  problems in Egypt remained.”

In such a political climate, he and his associates realized that instead of waiting for someone to come around and make change, they needed be the change themselves in accordance with Ghandi’s teachings.

After contemplating different avenues and paths they could take, Omar realized that the most effective way to empower Egyptian youth would be through the teaching of entrepreneurial and leadership skills.

With this mission in mind, Egypt Ability, an educational organization that could galvanize promising young people from all over Egypt, was founded.

Egypt Ability was able to immediately acquire beneficial partners and supporters from various organization, including African Leadership Academy, We Are Family Foundation, and Egypt Association for Educational Resources.

Although the donations provided were necessary and helpful, they were not sufficient. Determined to accomplish their mission, the members of Egypt Ability set out in search of further funding and grants from the community.

Omar and peers began reaching out to any and all potential donors including family, friends, and entrepreneurs to gain support for their project.

“This [created] a sense of ownership from the community towards the project, which [was] very important for us [in reaching] our dream of building the academy and promoting entrepreneurial leadership in the society,” Omar said. With support from official sponsors, the organization finally received the adequate resources for the project.

Thanks to their new supporters, Egypt Ability became increasingly popular, and received over three hundred applicants from all over Egypt for its first National Summit.

The applicants then went through a rigorous selection process, and in the end, twenty-five applicants were invited to attend the Egypt Ability’s National Summit, an experience that would prove to be life changing for many of them.

The members of Egypt Ability then organized a concentrated curriculum for their Summit workshops, or “camps”. A typical day consisted of entrepreneurial workshops, leadership workshops, guest speakers, mentor meetings, and networking exposure. Omar strived to give the youths mentors on whom they should base their behavior. “When you see someone who has already succeeded, you gain inspiration to believe that you can succeed as well.”

The Summit culminated in a gala attended by several social entrepreneurs, including representatives of major Egyptian companies. Each participant would then deliver a professional presentation about their own project proposal that they developed over the course of the Summit.

“Over ninety percent of the students took up leadership roles in their communities after the Summit” in areas such as tourism, conservation, and health, Omar said.

Omar and colleagues are currently in the process of fundraising and networking projects to organize an even larger-scale National Summit later this year. He noted that in order to reach this new milestone, his organization needs more monetary sponsors, and is currently taking advantage of the resources and connections that he has access to as a student in the United States.

After graduating from UR, Omar hopes to develop Egypt Ability into a full-fledged academy dedicated to endowing Egyptian youth with the skills needed to become harbingers of positive change in Egypt.

Omar believes that the Egypt Ability’s mantra is best exemplified by the words of Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Ely is a member of the class of 2017.

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