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Green Initiatives in the Middle East: How to Protect the Environment in a Growing Region

In our first action learning program in the Middle East, a team of professionals co-created a mobile game to foster environmental protection. In this blog post, social entrepreneur Zaid from Jordan reflects about his learning journey in the program and provides insights in his work as a change maker in the region. Support Zaid and his work by downloading the app for your Apple or Android device.

Zaid, who are you and what is Orenda Tribe?

"I am Zaid Souqi, a Jordanian of Palestinian origins. Ever since I was a child I’ve been driven by curiosity, a trait that stayed with me and pushed me to think of my purpose in life. A thought that took me on a self-reflection journey to Spain and South Africa leading me to make the decision of pursuing purpose through my career and that was when I founded The Orenda Tribe

The Orenda Tribe is on a mission to inspire positive change in young minds through art and storytelling. Before the BOOKBRIDGE Capability Program, we conducted educational art workshops for children across the Middle East, crafted educational stories and books, and designed apparel. However, our dream of creating children's digital applications remained just that - a dream - due to lack of expertise and funding."

Zaid, Founder of The Orenda Tribe
Zaid, Founder of The Orenda Tribe

What challenge did you encounter in your community upon the start of the Capability Program?

"The Middle East is facing multiple challenges and growing more complex at an unprecedented pace – socially, economically and environmentally. Young entrepreneurs are building up green and social businesses by capturing one of the many opportunities. For entrepreneurs as well as established organizations, the process of developing effective leadership is of paramount importance. In a fast-changing word, the next generation of leaders is required to exhibit high levels of responsibility for themselves and others while simultaneously integrating value and meaning into their professional lives. To help organizations and individuals address these challenges, BOOKBRIDGE and Cewas Middle East and their partners take an exceptional approach to shape the next generation of leaders."

What solutions did your team come up with?

"Fortunately, the Capability Program changed everything. With a fantastic team and the necessary funding, we were able to bring our vision to life. Our first B2C children's digital application was born. Together, we created a plan for a children's game aimed at raising awareness about sea pollution. This collaborative effort was a valuable learning experience for us, expanding our perspectives and teaching us the importance of teamwork. The game features six engaging activities that teach kids about recycling, global warming, and waste management.

The Orenda Tribe then took charge of designing the game in-house before partnering with a third party to develop it. One of the greatest aspects of the program was the diversity within our team. With people from various backgrounds and countries, we gained invaluable insights, especially crucial for a digital application aimed at a global audience."

Zaid (second from left) and his team in our Middle East Entrepreneurship Program (MEEP)
Zaid (second from left) and his team in our Middle East Entrepreneurship Program (MEEP)

What challenges have you encountered?

"While we are immensely proud of the game we've created, we faced challenges along the way. Delays from our outsourced developer were unexpected, and then the October 7th war began. Given our work in supporting Palestinian refugee camps and our location in Jordan, it was not the right time to launch and market the game. As a result, we have yet to sell any units."

What have been your major learnings from the program and your social enterprise?

"Working together on this project was a great learning experience for me. At first, it was tough because everyone had different ways of working, and I wasn't the best at explaining things clearly. This led to disagreements. But as we went along, I learned how important it is to be clear and upfront when talking, and to make sure everyone feels comfortable sharing their ideas. This helped us solve problems and also gave us a wider range of ideas because everyone came from different backgrounds. By guiding the team towards a common goal, I got better at being a leader, learning how to assign tasks and keep everyone motivated. Through this process, I realized how important teamwork is, and how different perspectives can lead to even better solutions.

Personally, this project helped me grow a lot. I realized I needed to communicate better, so I worked on explaining things more clearly. Working with such a diverse team also taught me to appreciate different ways of working and to be more sensitive to different cultures. The project was like a crash course in managing projects, which meant learning how to manage time well, stick to a budget, and work with people in different places. These new skills were really important when we were building our digital product."

Screenshot of the mobile app "For the Sea" developed by the team
Screenshot of the mobile app "For the Sea" developed by the team

What support are you seeking from our BOOKBRIDGE Family?

"Despite these setbacks, we remain hopeful and determined. Our plan is to kick off promotions this month and we're excited about the potential reach with the support of the BOOKBRIDGE Family. Together, we aim to spread the message of environmental stewardship to children worldwide."

If you want to support the work of Zaid and his team at The Orenda Tribe, then download the app "For the Sea" on your Apple or Android device.


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