Philanthropy powered GATHER Fellows using social innovation to heal rifts


Andrew Milner


Social innovation and enterprise can help heal the divisions in a community created by conflict: this is the premise of the GATHER Fellowship which has announced its third cohort of fellows to begin their year-long fellowship at an incubator in Stockholm in March.

The fellowship backs social entrepreneurs and ‘social influencers’ who seek to transform communities dogged by conflict through initiatives in areas as diverse as technology, education, arts and culture, either through business or non-profit organisations.

Though the programme is run by US-based Seeds of Peace in partnership with the Social Enterprise Forum, the initiative represents a much wider philanthropic collaboration.

Among the supporters of the Fellowship are Leir Charitable Foundations, Annette M and Theodore N Lerner Family Foundation, the Moses Feldman Family Foundation, Orphanides & Associates, Red Sea Ventures, and the Leila and Mickey Straus Family Charitable Trust, while the incubator will be hosted by Swedish foundation, Sigtunastiftelsen.

Majd from Gaza.

Among this year’s group of fellows are Majd in Gaza and Ahmed in Pakistan. Majd’s GreenCake project seeks to address both the destruction wrought by conflict in Gaza and its high unemployment rate by creating cost-effective, locally-sourced, building blocks from ash and the rubble of demolished buildings.

Ahmed from Pakistan.

Ahmed has developed the Lincoln School System to provide a progressive programme of education for girls to help overcome gender inequality in Pakistan.

The 16 Fellows – whittled down from an initial 250 applicants – will receive a stipend over the 12 months of the Fellowship to further an existing idea or, in some cases, develop a new one.

The five-day incubator in March will feature skill-building, reflection and mentoring and will culminate in a pitch session to an audience of 150 philanthropists, business leaders, investors and Seeds of Peace and Social Enterprise Forum Board members.

Andrew Milner is associate editor of Alliance. Email

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