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Royal Hashemite Court (Jordan)

King entrusts KAFD with new programme for social, political empowerment
Amman, 10 December 2012

As part of his holistic vision for political reform and democratisation, His Majesty King Abdullah on Monday entrusted the King Abdullah Fund for Development (KAFD) with the creation of a new programme focusing on building civic engagement and strengthening democratic values in Jordan through social entrepreneurship.

King Abdullah tasked KAFD with developing initiatives to use social entrepreneurship to deepen social dialogue, broaden youth participation, hold public institutions accountable, and strengthen democratic culture and values.

Democracy is not just about institutions, laws and elections, said Dr. Omar Razzaz, chairman of KAFD. “Fundamentally, democracy is a culture of inclusive debate and discussion on the issues and challenges shaping our common future as citizens.” The programme will therefore be a means of building and strengthening grassroots participation in a democratic culture.

The programme will encourage citizens to be active participants, not just during elections, Razzaz said. “Jordanians should be constantly involved in their democracy by actively debating the key issues that affect their lives, including cost of living, quality of government services, and ways to hold government and their parliament accountable,” he added.

The KAFD chairman explained that the programme will identify and support Jordanian social entrepreneurs passionate about building a vibrant and inclusive democracy for all.  Where appropriate, the programme will build on and support existing social initiatives making full use of their creativity for the good of the Kingdom. “It will do this by providing access to the resources, training, and support that citizens need to translate their ideas into reality,” he said. “Social entrepreneurship means just that: Citizens themselves generating new ideas to address societal challenges and using entrepreneurial principles to deliver new, transformative solutions”.

Over the next few months, KAFD will be developing the details for this new programme. Examples of the type of activities that the programme may support include social entrepreneurs working in the areas of community empowerment, increasing transparency and accountability of government activities, and creating new public debates and forums. The support provided by the programme may take different forms depending on the needs of the different initiatives, but it could include financial assistance, training and mentoring, or the creation of networks and platforms for social entrepreneurs to share experiences, learn, and develop new ideas.

Razzaz stressed that one of the key principles of the new programme will be to enable greater engagement from all shades of political opinion: “As a core principle, the programme’s resources must be open to everyone, whatever their political viewpoint. Stimulating debate is about encouraging alternative views to be heard in a respectful way. Therefore, anyone who accepts the fundamental principles of political pluralism, mutual respect and democratic dialogue should have the chance to receive support from the programme.”

According to the programme, the first step for KAFD will be to engage with existing social entrepreneurs and youth representatives to ensure that the programme designed provides the support that leaders and entrepreneurs need to bring their ideas for civic engagement and democratic development to life.
“We at KAFD are honoured and delighted to have been given this task. Strengthening our culture of grassroots participation and empowering Jordanians to help build the future of our country are at the core of all of KAFD’s activities. KAFD will determine the best way to realise His Majesty’s vision for building civic engagement and strengthening democratic values, and will aim to launch this initiative early next year,” said Razzaz.