Nawaya emerged from a deep concern for the future of rural livelihoods and the absence of coordinated actions support small-scale farmers’ enterprise development.
In the months following the 2011 Arab spring, we invited Egyptian farming families to co-design novel solutions rooted in local heritage and biodiversity. With women, men, and youth across rural and urban regions, we facilitated knowledge forums, food festivals, and agricultural campaigns to shift mindsets around conventional farming practices and reimagine the potential of rural economies. We then co-designed creative enterprise models, led prototyping processes, and adapted rural infrastructure to establish rural businesses that generate new sources of income, from compost-making, to poultry raising, to agro-tourism. To support these enterprises, we formed ethical market spaces and built connections across value chains that increase profit and decrease risk.
Working side-by-side with like-minded farmers and facilitators, we came to understand their great potential in rapidly scaling our work. We thus developed a toolkit for community engagement to enable local innovation, and have trained farmers in techniques. Harnessing the transformative power of modern technology, we have openly published case studies and produced farmer-to-farmer training videos that can enable low-cost replication of community initiatives. We have also customized online applications for knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer communication, and accountability – and have forged links with research institutes and policymakers to promote video-based learning in rural settings.