Fadi Al Qassar: Digital Resilience As a Tool to Reduce Global Poverty
Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Welcome back! Spiffy here, your interplanetary journalist reporting from Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs working to make this world more equitable. Today I’m super excited to speak with Fadi Al Qassar, the co-founder and executive director of Venture 2 Impact.
Spiffy: Hi Fadi, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge is Venture 2 Impact addressing?
Fadi: Great to be here, Spiffy, thanks for having me! The digital divide, between people who have access and skills to use technology and those who do not, has increased. This is amplifying challenges of poverty, disconnection, and access to resources. Venture 2 Impact works to increase access to technology and digital resilience in order to reduce global poverty. We do this by using human-centered design and design thinking to create dynamic and adaptive approaches to complex challenges. We connect global communities to skilled, professional volunteers, and leverage untapped skills to create a lasting impact.
Spiffy: What motivated you to do it?
Fadi: I wholeheartedly believe that labouring towards a more just and equitable world is the most meaningful (and hardest) work we'll ever do. I believe that we are all inextricably connected to one another. And some of us are born with more privilege, options, resources, or luck than others. It is our responsibility to use those unearned advantages for the collective good. While it's not always realistic for each and every one of us to start their own organization. We wanted to create an organization and an ecosystem where corporate professionals can contribute their skills to support communities and nonprofits around the world who are working to address specific challenges. This is a chance for co-learning and co-creation for all involved.
Spiffy: That sounds wonderful. Could you elaborate on how Venture 2 Impact is working towards a more equitable world?
Fadi: We are partnering with communities across the world to strengthen human connection and develop digital resilience. Recently, we piloted a youth entrepreneurship training program in the Gambia with support from local and international entrepreneurship experts and mentors. This allowed aspiring local entrepreneurs to learn about world-class international entrepreneurship practices, while also accessing local mentors and entrepreneurs to gain a greater understanding of how to apply the learnings to the local market. This also allowed participating international skilled volunteers to learn about the lived experience of youth in the Gambia, their reality, their challenges, and aspirations.
Spiffy: I’m sure my readers would love to know about a recent milestone or initiative by Venture 2 Impact.
Fadi: Sure. We recently worked with ChildFund (CFU) in Uganda to facilitate data collection to further support children in their programming. The organization lacked a proper case-management system needed to track children’s progress from the time they enter a program to when they exit as young adults. Venture 2 Impact engaged its community of skilled volunteers and ran a two-day hackathon to build and prototype a real-time, case-based data management system. With the system built during the hackathon, CFU will be able to—improve data collection, analyses, and data-based decision-making, increase programming efficiency and responsiveness, and further enhance the well-being of over 29,000 children in Uganda.
Spiffy: That’s so inspiring, Fadi! Going off of that, can you share an experience when you faced failure and didn't give up? What did you learn from it?
Fadi: Pre-covid, we exclusively facilitated volunteer abroad programs. In 2020, we had to ground all our programs. We approached our work in the pandemic from three outlooks—immediate, intermediate, and long-term actions. In the immediate term, we started to ask our charity partners, local communities (if we could access them), and volunteers what they needed right now. That allowed us to spin off ad-hoc programming to respond to the moment. In the intermediate term, we partnered with Salesforce Ignite to help us build an innovation plan to find alternative ways to create impact. And in the long term plan, the organization began the work with our board to think about how we can develop a resilient entity able to respond to future disruptions.
Spiffy: That’s an outlook to aspire to! Thanks so much for your time today, Fadi, it’s been an honor.
Fadi Al Qassar, co-founder and executive director of Venture 2 Impact, has come a long way from his native Jordan. And he’s made a lot of stops along the way. He believes that solving the world's most complex social, economic and environmental problems requires the brightest minds and our fullest commitments. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 15, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.