In the words of 23-year-old Khaled Yousry regarding his project: “I just want to make this country a better place for people to live in.”
Talking about the main reason he and his partner started the Nafez project, Yousry said: “There’s nothing better but supporting those who seek to help others and only suffers from money shortage.”
Nafez (Apply) is an online platform that connects private sector companies and individuals to NGOs in need of funding to apply a community development project.
The platform started earlier this year, and aims to benefit from corporate social responsibility (CSR) to invest the money in several projects that NGOs apply to undertake. With several projects competing for a specific amount of money, the choice goes to the one that gets most of the votes by the public.
“I’ve worked at the community service field,” Yousry said. “I know how hard, sometimes impossible, it is to collect a big amount of money without being hugely famous NGO in Egypt.”
The story goes back to 2011, after the 25 January Revolution, when most of Egypt’s NGOs were accused of having foreign funding. Karem Abo El-So’od, Yousry’s partner in Nafez, decided to establish a social fund with the help of the Ministry of International Cooperation to collect money from individuals for those non-profit organisations that only aim to provide services to Egyptian society.
“We wanted people to trust that the money we change our society with is from the society itself,” Yousry said. “Yet, all what we faced were struggles at getting the permissions and approvals for doing so.”
There is nothing harder but knowing you can help others but the bureaucratic steps stop you from doing so, according to Yousry.
Earlier this year, the two friends decided to go through with the original plan but in a new form, by creating a websites that combines the two sides.
The first round was the profits of Cairo Half Marathon which Cairo Runners decided to give away a part of to Nafez.
At each round of selecting a project to fund, Nafez would have several brackets, each with a specific amount of money. The amount of money ranges from EGP 25,000 to EGP 250,000.
“Sometimes a certain company would like to donate a large amount of money, but divide it into many small sections to provide as much funding as possible for many projects, as Cairo Runners did,” according to Yousry.
The projects competing over a certain amount of money are all run on the same theme, which differs from one round to another. So when people vote, they get to take their decision of the best one upon several projects, all aiming at the same target.
The voting process lasts for two weeks, allowing as many people to vote as possible.
While Nafez tries to support other NGOs with the appropriate funds, it faces some difficulties on the financial issue.
“We are self-funded,” Yousry said. “We pay the costs of the website from our pocket and we’re offered the graphic designs from a friend to help.”
Yet, until now, the founders are satisfied with the efforts they are putting into the project, as they aim to reach the international level. Helping international private sector companies at giving away part of their CSR money to invest in international non-profit organisations is what Nafez’s founders aim to successfully achieve.
At their first round, the online voting given to the NGO, Ahl Masr, through Nafez helped change the lives of more than 4,000 families at At-Samta village in Beni Suef governorate. Winning EGP 50,000 to renovate the unstable and dilapidated houses, as well as raising the awareness of the danger coming from using the “Wabour” (a small primitive gas stove).
Another NGO won EGP 25,000 for developing children’s abilities in educational, personal and ethical sides.
The platform still seeks to be developed, yet the desire of changing the world to a better place is the deep motivation for all the founders to keep working on it.