Jordan’s Nakhweh Relaunches as a Regional Hub for Social Ventures

by Nina Curley, January 14, 2013

Nakhweh has long been one of Jordan’s darlings in the social entrepreneurship space, a scrappy NGO trying to make volunteerism popular (or at least simple) for Jordanian youth.

Now, the site is pivoting into an entirely new era, relaunching as a comprehensive directory for social work in the Middle East and North Africa.

Under its Organizations tab, the site will list all social ventures (including NGOs, nonprofits, social enterprises, and initiatives) in a searchable list, while still offering its signature volunteer matching services. These will also be upgraded, however; ventures will be able to post opportunities and receive applications from volunteers in the Nakhweh network, while a new and improved algorithm makes suggestions for potential matches.

It’s a move that founder Kamel Al-Asmar has been plotting since he discussed it with Wamda at the World Economic Forum in 2011, saying he hoped to create “positive jealousy” among youth in the region when it comes to seeing peers doing good and wanting to join the community.

The new vision also stemmed from his constant goal to create awareness about social work in the Arab world. yet the relaunch is more than a romantic idea of what “better” means in today’s world; it’s a data-driven decision.  “Our experience at Nakhweh was that it was tough to follow up and perform impact measurements on volunteering,” he says. “Now we know how to deal with the situation in a better way.”

One can’t help but notice the shift towards a more job portal-like interface; the new service will, after all offer online search and application functions, and will offer social ventures the ability to approach potential volunteers directly on the site.

Al-Asmar reveals that the idea was, in the beginning, inspired by his work at regional job search portal Akhtaboot, an Endeavor company also based in Amman; he launched Nakhweh when he realized that no site in the region was catering to volunteers.  While niche job search portals like Laimoon and Gradberry and skill search communities like Nabbesh have cropped up in the past couple of years, along with new algorithm-based matching sites like Wuzzuf, Nakhweh is the first to own the feel-good niche.

Al-Asmar admits he looked to the structure of sites like Idealist.org and Volunteermatch.org to set Nakhweh’s categories. “We collected over 150 categories and then filtered them down to 82,” he says. Now potential applicants on the site can sift through those to find what they want, also taking reviews into account.

The new Nakhweh is also even more social than the previous iteration was. Opportunity seekers will be able to “follow” a given social venture and receive its updates (which can be manual or pulled in from existing social media channels).

Social ventures, on the other hand, will receive exposure not just to potential manpower but also to potential funding opportunities on the site and the ability to disseminate information to a regional audience through Nakhweh’s social media and newsletters.

Overall, the hope is that by creating a central resource, Nakhweh will help social entrepreneurs and nonprofit managers make a name for their ventures, as the site makes a name for social work in the Arab world. Adopting a decentralized model, the new Nakhweh is built to tap into the power of the crowd to drive its success.

“We look forward to building partnerships around the region,” say Al-Asmar. Indeed, the success of the new Nakhweh will depend upon its ability to add enough demonstrated value to NGOs (and enough willing volunteers) to keep them logged in and searching. Hopefully the NGO will continue to host offline events that bring its main constituents into the fold. 

--

Nina [nine-uh] is the Editor-in-Chief at Wamda. You can reach her through Wamda, on Twitter @9aa, on Facebook, Google+ or at nina [AT] wamda.com.