The Sawiris Foundation was founded in April 2001 as a grant-making foundation. Set up with an endowment from the Sawiris family – which is made up of prominent members of the business world and the development community - it is one of the first family donor foundations dedicated to social development to be established in Egypt. In 2005, the Foundation was granted special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC).
The Sawiris Foundation’s focus, mission and work have evolved from the collective thinking of like-minded individuals within the international development community. Mrs. Yousriya Loza Sawiris, founding chair of the Association for the Protection of the Environment (APE), and the late Dr. Ibrahim Shihata, Senior Vice-President and General Counsel of the World Bank, began the dialogue and thinking of how to shape the Foundation. They were further encouraged in their efforts by the collaboration of advocates such as Mrs. Mary Asaad, a community development expert, and the late Dr. John Gerhart, former President of the American University in Cairo (AUC). Dr. Shihata helped codify the Foundation’s by-laws and processes, and recruited the members of its Board of Trustees and the Foundation’s first Executive Director. All board members are leaders of Egyptian society and experts in their field.
VISION: The Sawiris Foundation was founded on the belief that development is only sustainable when its beneficiaries are equal partners in the process. We aspire to be a recognized pioneer in the provision of innovative and sustainable development initiatives, promoting increased empowerment of, and participation by, the people of Egypt.
MISSION: Our mission is to contribute to Egypt’s development, create sustainable job opportunities, and empower citizens to build productive lives that realize their full potential.
We support initiatives that encourage job creation through training, education and access to microcredit. We also enhance efforts to improve health and further the endeavors of local communities to improve infrastructure and gain access to basic services — two important prerequisites for higher productivity and the increased empowerment of citizens.
CORE VALUES: At SFSD, we are committed to fundamental values that underpin our mission and objectives to improve the lives of underprivileged Egyptians throughout the country. We commit ourselves to accountability, transparency, equality and fairness, and integrity in all the work we do to effectively respond to the needs of the people of Egypt.
All activities are financed through the Foundation’s endowment fund, as well as through annual donations from founding members.
OBJECTIVES: Our primary objective is to support development projects, programs, and initiatives that improve lives in all of Egypt’s governorates by:
1. Job creation through:
Financing training programs that lead to employment.
Encouraging micro enterprise development by providing technical, administrative and financial assistance through grants and loans.
2. Increasing access to and quality of education through:
Awarding merit scholarships to Egyptian students to study at home and abroad.
Establishing specialized higher education institutions to offer training that responds to society’s needs.
3. Addressing the most pressing health-care issues (e.g. Hepatitis C, nursing shortage, etc.)
4. working on developing our communities in terms of infrastructure.
5. Encouraging artisitic and cultural innovation through annual competition.
SFSD’s approach to sustainable development - The 5 pillars
Forging effective partnerships, with civil society, corporate and governmental actors.
Adopting a backward employment model, in which labour market needs are comprehensively assessed prior to the design and provision of training in order to maximise job potential for trainees.
Fostering healthy competition between beneficiaries through annual awards and scholarships.
Instituting best practices by going beyond grant-giving and ensuring that grantees are supported to apply the best practices in strategic planning, financial management, monitoring and evaluation and reporting.
Scaling- up successful initiatives after through assesment of pilot phase.
Our Approach to Grantmaking
We support social development initiatives through grants and donations to selected programs and projects that uphold our five key areas of work: Youth Training for Employment, Scholarships, Cultural Awards, Microcredit, Health and Community Development. All activities are financed through the Foundation’s endowment fund, as well as through annual donations from founding members.
Founding members also dedicate substantial funds, in the form of restricted grants or donations, to initiate or contribute to specific initiatives in line with both Egypt’s social development priorities and the Foundation’s mission.
Backward Job Creation Model
One of the methods applied to encourage NGOs to come up with innovative job creation initiatives that are relevant to their communities and responsive to labor market needs is the Foundation’s biennial "Job Creation Competition". Every two years, the Foundation launches a call for NGOs to submit their project proposals in a climate of healthy competition. Grant-winning projects are selected based on:
Creativity of project concept.
Quality and soundness of the proposed training program and implementation plan.
Number of beneficiaries and average cost per job created.
Ability to secure jobs for trainees.
Proposed geographical location/coverage.
Once a project concept has been approved, the Foundation assists candidates in developing their proposals, complete with an implementation plan and budget. Briefings, application workshops and field visits all help to ensure that the project design is sound, responds effectively to the needs of the community, addresses labor-market needs, and is financially sustainable.
Technical assistance provided by the Foundation focuses on helping the candidates make the crucial link between education and training, on the one hand, and job creation, on the other. All applicants are required to accompany their proposals with agreements they have made with employers, showing that jobs have been secured for at least 70 percent of the trainees.