The Nawaya

"Nawas" Program


noun, arabic

"Date Palm Seed"​ 

Nawas are the seeds for rural innovation and collective action in local communities. 

Like date trees, Nawas blossom in local ecosystems. They are the people who guide rural communities through prototyping of solutions that better lives.

Nawas work with Nawaya to identify local opportunities, adapt knowledge to local contexts, and validate impact

Connected to one other, they share ideas, experiences, and challenges – so they don’t have to solve issues alone.


For their fruit to grow, date trees require careful hand pollination.


Nawas are similar. To help their communities thrive, they must be people of character, with strong values, passion, and motivation to see change in their communities.

They must be acutely familiar with regional contexts and languages; demonstrate an ability to create deep and trusting relationships; be skilled at identifying local talents and resources; and be a natural communicator for complicated concepts across diverse people.

Example Nawas

Nariman has guided artisanal food producers in Cairo and its rural outskirts through the development of a collaborative network.


Sara has worked closely with a group of rural women to help establish a start-up food business based on their heritage food skills.


Mohammed has helped communities design rooftop gardens for environmental sustainability in Egypt.


Yasmine has worked with rural women in Fayoum to co-design healthy food products for children.


The Nawa

Learning Journey

To flourish, Nawas require fertile soil and diverse ecological conditions.


We invest heavily in our Nawas through long periods of online and offline training, guided experimentation in the field, mentorship and problem solving, and networks for co-learning and peer support.

Nawas become skilled in:

Community Building

  • Relationship & trust building

  • Self-awareness, expression & talent development

  • Storytelling around shared identities

Activating Collaboration

  • Connecting diverse networks 

  • Setting common agreements: values, strategies & goals

  • Sharing risk & reward

Participatory Action

  • Experimentation, co-learning &  adaptation

  • Inclusive decision-making

  • Managing power & conflict

Identifying Shared Priorities

  • Comparing diverse needs, hopes & perspectives

  • Contextualizing locally 

  • Finding patterns for action

Solution Finding

  • Leveraging technology for easy access to information

  • Researching existing knowledge for local needs

  • Translating into local contexts 


  • Community self-evaluation

  • Accountability "testing" for local needs

  • Peer-to-peer feedback

Knowledge Exchange

  • Shifting mindsets around alternative ways of working 

  • Facilitating critical dialogue

  • Adapting to multiple literacies & languages

Resource Mobilization

  • Collaborative budgeting

  • Identifying shared knowledge, skills & assets

  • Mobilizing local funds


  • Participatory video making

  • Representing rural voices in national/international forums

Learn More

Contact us at to learn more about how you can support us through partnering or funding our Nawas program.