Syrian Diaspora Leaders programme

A programme for Syrian leaders in the diaspora that aims to build their capacity to contribute to Syria and to the diaspora community.

Drawing on our work with diaspora leaders from communities such as Libya, Zimbabwe, Pakistan and Bangladesh, this programme helps participants develop new thinking, skills, connections and practical tools so they can make a greater impact.

The programme

This programme brings together exceptional leaders from the Syrian diaspora who are in the early to mid-stage of their careers or established leaders. They will be from different generations, different walks of life and from across the sectors – public, private and not for profit.

This experience will help participants to:
  • enhance their ability to Lead Beyond Authority - the ability to lead in situations where they have no formal authority, which is key for diaspora leaders
  • develop their thinking on possible futures for Syria - and grow their capacity to translate that thinking into positive action
  • build new networks - by giving them access to participants and contributors they might otherwise never meet
  • develop their Cultural Intelligence - the ability to cross boundaries and thrive in multiple cultures, by throwing them into a difficult task with a diverse group
  • stretch their analytical and creative skills - by exposing them to a new approach to innovation
  • re-energize - by connecting with inspiring peers and leaders from a range of different fields.

Abdullah Mawas, General Secretary, Syrian British Medical Society, Participant, Syrian Diaspora Leaders Programme

“I have been inspired and motivated by the whole course. I will take my learnt skills to my community here in the UK and... share this with my communities back home in Syria.”

The challenge

The programme focusses on a challenge: “How can diaspora leaders use their skills, talents and networks to benefit Syria and the diaspora community?”

This challenge will provide the framework for the programme. Over four days participants are guided through a process of creativity and innovation, including visits to organizations relevant to the challenge and sessions with senior leaders with knowledge of Syria and of development challenges. The participants will explore the challenge from every possible angle and will see both the problems and the possible solutions in practice.

Participants work up practical ideas in response to the challenge, which they present to a panel of senior leaders at the end of the programme. They then work on their ideas individually and collectively, building long-lasting connections and developing projects that can be prototyped in the ‘real world’ beyond the programme.


In the process participants will:

  • Gain a current perspective on the pressing needs in Syria
  • Explore the role and contribution of leaders in the diaspora 

Maria Said, Humanitarian Policy Team Coordinator, British Red Cross, Participant, Syrian Diaspora Leaders Programme

“The course gave me hope and reaffirmed that we have Syria in common and Syrians will be able to stand up after the conflict.”

Case Studies

A number of interviews were conducted with participants during the 2017 programme. A selection of these can be viewed below:

Common Purpose Syrian Diaspora Leaders Programme: Ranya

Reem Assil, Founding Member, Syrian Nonviolence Movement

How to Apply?

Following the successful pilot in 2017, Common Purpose ran a second programme for Syrian Diaspora Leaders in April 2018. 

If you are interested in in future Syrian Diaspora Leaders programmes, please contact us.

Joanna Hancox 
joanna.hancox@commonpurpose.org
T: 020 7608 8102