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How Two Social Startups and Bushra Managed to Inspire 400,000 Egyptians

Bassita's new viral video, featuring Bushra, has reached over 400,000 views (and funding) with their campaign to promote tolerance and cross-culture diversity through Safarni.

Staff Writer

Egyptian social startup Bassita has hit the cybersphere once again, sparking conversations around migration and cultural diversity amongst over 400,000 viewers in just a few days, with a viral campaign featuring Egyptian actress Bushra. The campaign, aiming to raise awareness about the importance of cultural diversity, is not only raising awareness about the importance of promoting cross-cultural integration and diversity, but also helping Egyptian NGO Safarni run a year-long programme in the neighborhood of Ard El Lewa.

Safarni, based in Cairo, works towards intercultural awareness and tolerance through a series of travel simulation workshops across low-income areas in Cairo, where children learn to interact with people from different countries around the world. The 5-year-old organisation was recently given the UNAOC & BMW Group Intercultural Award. “This is Safarni’s most ambitious project yet. Our intention is to support intercultural appreciation within the community, working with both children and parents. We hope this project will be a model that we can then replicate in other communities across the world , in need of social cohesion," says its founder, Raphaelle Ayach.

Replicating its innovative clickfunding model - which recently broke all records, reaching 5 million people to promote accessibility for people with disabilities - Bassita has produced a video featuring celebrity actress Bushra, in a video that has to date garnered 400,000 views and is on its way to raising the funds and achieving its goal. For every point, 1 EGP goes to Safarni to promote social cohesion between migrants and Egyptians in Ard El Lewa: each comments earns 5 points, each share gets 3 points, and each like, 2 points. The project will be basing the bulk of its work in one of the areas where cultural diversity has boomed, Ard Ellewa, where about 75,000 migrants live. The workshop led by the NGO aspires to achieve a social cohesion and a melting pot of sorts between the host Egyptian community and its newer guests.

"We, as foreigners, have the privilege to travel and the luxury to study and meet international people but they don’t, says Bassita's co-founder, Alban de Ménonville. “In Ard El Lewa, you have more than 20 cultures living in the same place, so basically they could discover Ethiopia, Sudan, Eritrea in their own neighborhood; but they don’t know their culture. So we bring a new dimension to Safarni, helping them discover new cultures in their own area. Imagine that the neighborhood's school has more than 11 nationalities. The idea is to make each kid an ambassador of diversity for their family," he explains.  


“Travel shapes one’s personality, frees their mind and nurtures their soul. This campaign and the activities that will follow will provide children of Egyptian and migrant communities in Ard El Lewa with a simulated travel opportunity which will enable them to meet and interact, learn about cultural diversity, and most importantly learn to accept each other,” says IOM Egypt Programme Officer Zeinab Sabet. 

Bringing together international organisations as well as private partners, Bassita has long contributed to social impact, through a model that not only raises awareness but also creates concrete, tangible fundraising - with a track record including UNICEF, and IOM. For this campaign, IOM and Drosos Foundation provided the support, while Safarni obtains the funds to implement the series of workshops. “Promoting tolerance and respect has always been a part of the mission of Drosos foundation. Safarni fully embodies these values,” says Drosos Foundations' Country Director Wessam ElBeih. 

It is not the first time the social startup works with Safarni. "The first time we met Raphaelle Ayach was for a small click-funding campaign to send 30 kids from Haram to see the sea for the first time in their lives. Most of them had never seen the Nile because they don’t go out of the neighbourhood. Can you imagine the children’s smile on their faces?, says de Ménonville"Safarni has a much bigger ambition: to help children discover new cultures, opening the minds and hearts to diversity," he explains.

Bassita's clickfunding model, which received an award by the former president of France Francois Hollande himself, disrupts a field marred by the lack of funding and innovative fundraising methods: social impact. By bringing the corporate sector together with non-profit organisations, their campaigns leverage on the power of innovation. "There is a huge gap between tech and the civil society and NGOS. NGOs are not using tech as the private sector is. This is one of our goals, pitting technologies at the service of the civil society, and clickfunding is one way to do that," says de Ménonville. "Amazon is accepting bitcoin, and only a few months ago international organisations like the WFP started to accept bitcoins. They are a few years late compared to the private sector," he explains. 

However, marrying the two areas is not always a piece of cake. "I think the corporate sector is very shy in going into new Egyptian innovation; when doing CSR, they are still very focused on mainstream NGOS because it’s easier, says de Menonville. "There are certain fields which the corporate sector more willing to collaborate; but migrants and refugees as a topic is scary to them, because they are afraid about negative comments," adds co-founder Salem Massalha. "But they are not seeing that this country integrates different cultures which contribute to the well-being of Egypt. If you go back in history, you can see that most of the Shami cultures contributed to the development of Egypt, in industries like textiles and clothing. Now we forget about this part of history," he says. 

The model has gained traction across other countries, with companies such as Goodeed and Declick applying the same principle in France. "The model is starting to emerge because people want new ways to contribute and help. Basically, when I want to help a cause, I have 2 options: I can volunteer or pay. But if you really want to help, it’s important to raise awareness, because generally, it’s the lack of awareness that causes negative situations," adds de Menonville. Social media is great for that; it’s not just raising funds but raising awareness at the same time, which means that more actors and institutions will be willing to help the cause."

Watch the full video and contribute to the cause here.


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