Social Innovation Summit

2,3 October 2020


Theme: Radical Imagination

Radical Imagination is the ability to imagine the world as it might be, and to stretch the realm of possibilities through which we can bring about change.
What does radical imagination look like in the Palestinian context today? How do we learn from and honor the struggles that came before us? How does it manifest as solidarity beyond borders?





Panels Recordings

Day 1 – Friday October 2, 2020

Opening Remarks

Besan Abu Joudeh and Lama Amr from the BuildPalestine team welcome the audience to a thrilling start to two days of conversation, celebration, and imagination. 


What is Radical Imagination?

Globally, traditional structures of control and power have drastically changed landscapes and built infrastructures of seemingly indefinite permanence. The current pandemic is shining a spotlight on these power structures, and on the continued oppression of many communities around the world.

It also presents an opportunity:  for us to come together, reach beyond the limits of our imagination, and collectively work towards a radically different future. Building on the decades-long efforts of activists at home and across the globe, and in the context of internationalist solidarities, this panel seeks to use this very opportunity to explore that process of radical imagination in Palestine and beyond.


– Dr. Yara Hawari – Senior Palestine Policy Fellow @ Al-Shabaka

– Mariam Barghouti- Writer, researcher, political commentator

– Jehad AbuSalim – Scholar and policy analyst 


– Dr. Sara Leila Husseini- Board Chair @ BuildPalestine

Fireside Chat: A Conversation with Hashim Shawa


Hashim Shawa is Chairman of Bank of Palestine Group (a values-based banking group), a leader in the business community, Board Chair of Ibtikar Fund, a patron of Palestinian art, and an active philanthropist. The conversation will cover topics from geopolitics to economics and offer a glimpse into Hashim’s life as a Palestinian who returned from the diaspora and was committed to building a better future for Palestine.

This session will be moderated by Besan Abu-Joudeh, CEO and Co-founder of BuildPalestine.

Building an ecosystem for social innovation: inspiration from global models

What is meant by social innovation? Where are the strongest ecosystems to support social innovators? And how have communities supported changemakers to translate dreams into impactful action? 

This panel will feature global models of social innovation and discuss them in the context of Palestine. The goal is to identify opportunities to ignite the ecosystem in Palestine, while also embracing what makes the case of Palestine unique. 


– Lana Abu Hijleh- WBG Country Director @ Global Communities 

– Adnane Addioui- Chief Visionary Officer @ Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship

– Alberto Masetti-Zannini – Global Development Director @ Impact Hub 


– Lama Amr – COO @ BuildPalestine

Reclaiming our imagination for paths to social change: a conversation with other movements

This panel is a conversation amongst organizers who have helped to build social and political movements within their own constituencies, with the goal of understanding the experiences of other movements and identifying potential lessons for the Palestinian context.

The panel will consider the following questions: What is the radical imagination in each of their contexts? How did/are they organiz(ing) towards that vision? How do we mobilize large groups of people/various sectors in society towards the same goal? What lessons are they learning/can they share?


– Dilar Dirik- Researcher and Organizer @ Ceni Kurdish Women’s Office for Peace

– Reem Abbas- Sudanese Writer, Journalist, and Researcher

– Ahmad Nabil AbuZnaid – Executive Director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights


– Inès Abdel Razek- Advocacy Director @ The Palestine Institute for Public Diplomacy (PIPD)

Overcoming donor-dependency: How can philanthropy tackle the root-cause?

Palestine has long been deemed a ‘donor-dependent economy’ with international aid arguably doing more harm than good in the post-Oslo era. Despite this, there continues to be an important role for aid and philanthropy in supporting and empowering impact-driven initiatives.

How can we redirect philanthropic giving so that it tackles the root cause? What is the vision of impact we have for our community, and what is the role of the Diaspora in achieving this?


– Yara Salem – Director General @ Taawon (Welfare Association) 

– Moukhtar Kocache – Strategy & Partnerships @ Rawa: Creative Palestinian Communities Fund

– Nora Lester Murad – Writer, Activist and Educator


– Aziza Musa – Nonprofit Executive & BuildPalestine Board Member 

Impact investing in Palestine and the MENA region

The goal of this panel to understand impact investing and speak with seasoned  professionals about how to better attract investment and raise funds. How competitive is Palestine today in the global impact investment scene? How can we overcome the bottlenecks? Can COVID-19 promote regional economic integration and collaboration regardless of the political differences? 


– Nassim Nour – Executive Director @ Sharakat- Palestine Investment Fund

– Samar Ali – Director @ Lodestone Advisory Group

– Mary Nazzal – Executive Chairperson @ 17 Ventures


– Yara Asad – Advisor @ BuildPalestine 

Day 2 – Saturday October 3, 2020

Re-imagining our relation to land & nature: agriculture and the environment

In Palestine, decades of dispossession over our natural resources – especially land and water – have been accompanied by Palestinian official neoliberal policies that have encouraged exploitation, capital-driven agriculture, and use of natural resources. The Mediterranean is one of the most vulnerable regions for climate change, a vulnerability that is exacerbated by the climate apartheid we are living in. 

We need to operate a radical shift in the way Palestinian approach our relationship with our ecosystems and resources and actively resist dispossession. 


– Saad Dagher – Freelance Agronomist Agro-Ecologist

– Lina Isma’il – Co-founder of the Palestinian Agro-ecological forum


– Muna Dajani – PhD in Geography and Environment

Creating equity and overcoming capitalism: cooperatives and the social economy

The cooperative movement has existed in Palestine since the early 20th century. The movements have suffered the consequences of successive layers of administrative controls and changes: the British mandate, the Egyptian/Jordanian Rule, Israeli occupation, and the Palestinian Authority, progressively weakening cooperative societies. This decline was worsened by a donor-driven model that led to an aid-dependent economy.

In our global context where social and economic injustices are ever-growing, some regions and countries succeeded to place dignity and social value at the heart of work and wealth, through a different model of economic organizing: cooperatives.

Are cooperatives a good model for a steadfast Palestinian economy? What are Palestinians today thinking when we talk about “cooperatives”? Why are women cooperatives the most successful in Palestine? What are the challenges faced today to develop perennial and successful structures?


– Hiba AlJibeihi – Fundraising unit officer @ Union of Agricultural Work Committees

– Asmahan Ebrighit – Member of Women’s Association Palestine

– Randa AbedRabbo – Director of the Union of Cooperative Associations for Saving and Credit (UCASC)


– Christian Zaknoun – Founder @ Thinking Consulting Firm and Integral Advisory Associates

Advocating on the playing field: sports as a tool for social change

This session will bring together Palestinian sports initiatives from across a range of Palestinian communities to discuss the power of sports as a tool for organizing on social and political issues, and as a tool for public diplomacy. The aim of the session will be to identify key points of alignment, share practical learnings, and start the process of building a unified and radical vision for the future of the sports sector.


– Nader Jayousi – Lawyer & Boxing Coach

– Diala Isid – Leader and Co-founder of Right to Movement Palestine

– Ahmad Matar- Co-founder and Parkour Lead @ WallRunners


– Malak Hasan – Journalist, Sports Enthusiast, and Project Manager @ Konrad Adenauer Stiftung

Changing hearts and minds: the transformational power of literature

The written word has the power to change both hearts and minds. How does the transformative power of literature work? How has it been used to support Palestinian identity and rights and how might literature been used to try to negate it? What is the role of publishers, agents and publicists in this process and how have Palestinian writers been marginalized? How have Palestinian writers been able to break through despite these and other obstacles?

This panel features four Palestinian writers who will not only share personal stories that influenced their writing, but also reflect on the future of Palestinian literature.


– Saleem Haddad- Writer, Novelist

– Susan Abulhawa – Writer & Human Rights Activist 


– Susan Muaddi Darraj – Fiction Writer and creator of #TweetYourThobe

Job creation and workforce development

The international community has lauded startup development as a tool for job creation and economic growth – when and how does investment in the startup ecosystem lead to job creation and economic growth? Likewise, international and local investment in job preparedness via relevant and timely education is considered key to ensuring upward mobility and employment access.

What has succeeded? What is still lacking? In this panel, we will explore the science behind the strategies, learn about grassroots & international initiatives that have moved forward over the past 5 years, and what gaps still exist and methods we should employ to ensure growth and resiliency – particularly in this COVID19 moment.


– Eng. Aref Husseini– Chairman @ Jerusalem Innovation Park – AlNayzak Organization

– Nasser Al Amuri-Entrepreneurial Consultant

– Mona Demaidi – Dr , An-Najah National University


– Jennifer Atala- Founder @ Inara Strategies LLC 

Art as a form of resistance: the power of music and visual art

This panel will feature artists and musicians, who will share their personal stories as well as the relationship between their art and resistance. How is art used to facilitate difficult conversations? How is it used to both preserve and transcend cultures? What is the role of art in the Palestinian struggle today?


– Malak Mattar – Artist

– Rami Younis – Co-founder @ Palestine Music Expo (PMX)

– Hafez Omar – Artist & human rights defender


– Rifk Ebeid – Author & Attorney 

Mental health and COVID-19: challenges and opportunities

Alongside Covid-19, there is also a mental health pandemic. What evidence do we have and what conversations do we need to have to promote social mobilization and innovation in the realm of mental health?  Who has started to push the frontier? What are their challenges? And what opportunities do the panelists see on the ground? 


– Dr. Mohammad Herzallah- Founding Director @ Palestine Neuroscience Initiative

– Hala Sabbah – Founder & Coach @ Healthy Feminist

– Rajiah Abu Sway –  Mental Health Officer @ World Health Organization


– Dr. Zeina Siam – Associate Program Officer @ Gates Foundation

Beyond the imagination: reflection & action

Closing Plenary

Closing remarks – What’s next? How do we manifest imagination into reality? Sara Leila Husseini, Board Chair and Mays Kuhail, reflect on the summit and discuss next steps.

Performances by Dana Dajani and Shadi Zaqtan.

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