Civil Society Leaders Programme

A programme for emerging civil society leaders in Lebanon.

The Civil Society Leaders programme will bring together emerging civil society leaders from the Lebanese, Palestinian and Syrian communities in Lebanon.

The participants will work together, in a fresh and exciting way, to develop innovative ideas to tackle common challenges.

The programme will be run by Common Purpose in collaboration with the Asfari Foundation and the Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship at AUB.

This follows a very successful first programme which ran in December 2018. The participants of the 2020 programme will join a dynamic group of alumni from the civil society sector across Lebanon.

Fadi Alhalabi, General Director & Founder, Multi Aid Programs (MAPS) – Participant, Civil Society Leaders Programme 2018

“The programme was special with regards to the space it provided to discover leadership skills and apply them. What makes it special is the fact that it emphasizes very simple concepts, intellectually speaking but very deep when it comes to the impact and the change it can make in society.”

Who is it for?

Who takes part?

We invite applications from emerging civil society leaders from the Lebanese, Syrian and Palestinian communities across Lebanon. We welcome applicants from a wide range of organizations working in the social sector.  

Why take part?

The experience will help participants to:

  • stretch their analytical and creative skills by exposing them to a new approach to innovation;
  • 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
  • enhance their ability to Lead Beyond Authority – to lead in situations where they have no formal authority, key for civil society leaders
  • build new networks, by giving them access to participants and contributors they might otherwise never meet
  • develop new ideas and approaches to increase their impact beyond the programme
Kinda Elias, Senior Engineer: Livelihood, Concern Worldwide – Participant, Civil Society Leaders Programme 2018

“I wasn’t expecting so much from the programme but it changed my understanding of leadership. It had a big impact on my professional life…I hope that this kind of training will continue to reach as many people as possible in society.”

How does it work?

The programme will be structured using the Common Purpose InnoVenture process which is focused on a common and compelling challenge.

Over four days participants are guided through a process of creativity and innovation, to explore the challenge through every possible angle – visiting organizations and meeting leaders with knowledge of development and social innovation.

Participants will develop ideas in response to the challenge, which they present to a panel of senior leaders. They then work on their ideas individually and collectively, building long-lasting connections and developing projects that can be prototyped after the programme.

2018 programme outcomes


I feel better able to contribute to my organization and my community


I am better able to lead or operate within a diverse team


I am better able to engage with people who are different from me

The Asfari Foundation is a young and energetic British grant making charity set up and funded by Sawsan and Ayman Asfari. We believe in young people. We know that, empowered by a good education and opportunities, young people can create very positive change in their communities and the world at large. Our vision is for a world in which young people actively work together to create productive, inclusive and just societies.

Based at the prestigious American University of Beirut, The Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship is the first research center bridging academia and activism. Focusing on analyzing, documenting and training social movements and NGO activists, the institute aims at consolidating Civil Society initiatives locally and regionally in the Arab world.

More information

When and where?

The next programme will be run in Beirut between 29 June to 2 July 2020. Please note that bursaries for travel and accommodation will be provided for successful applicants based outside Beirut.

If you would like to find out more about this programme, please contact us.


The programme will be run in Arabic.