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Egyptian Fellow Azza Koura Discusses Her Work with Tunisian Fellows

Article by George W. Bush Presidential Center September 25, 2014 //   4 minute read

Building a global women’s leadership network is a cornerstone of the Bush Institute’s Women’s Initiative Fellowship.  By participating in the program, Fellows develop a network of other women leaders from their same country.  They also gain access to a larger, global network of women, including American mentors and individuals from more than 50 action partners in the United States. 

In addition to this network, Fellows are encouraged to “pay their experience forward.” They are taught how to develop and share their skills and expertise with other women.  Recently, the Women’s Initiative tapped into the strengths of the program – both the networking and cascading – by connecting an alumnus from Egypt with the current class of Tunisian Fellows.

During the 2014 Women’s Initiative Fellows’ second in-country training in Tunis, 2012 Fellow Azza Koura led a day-long session. Azza serves as the chapter president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals for Egypt. An accomplished and successful fundraiser, she was able to lend her expertise to the current class of Tunisian fellows. 

They now are working on various projects - from the upcoming elections to launching new businesses to creating advocacy groups.  Despite the wide range of work, every Fellow needs assistance with fundraising, communications and best practices for interacting with potential funders or supporters. 

This is where Azza offered guidance. She wrote the following about her experience training the Tunisian Fellows:

“Being an alumnus of the inaugural group of the (Women’s Fellowship Initiative) program, I thought my fundraising expertise made me the right person to lead this session.  After reading the bios of the Tunisian fellows, I had different feelings and thoughts.

“Each one of them is extremely impressive with their education, skills and hopes for a brighter future.  We spoke a lot about similarities between Egypt and Tunisia and I realized that women are a very strong partner in the country’s uprising. They know their rights and they pursue their careers regardless of their challenges. I heard compelling stories about their achievements and their dreams for better Tunisia.

 “In our session, we started with successful stories about philanthropy and fundraising. We discussed building understanding and ownership through clear fundraising goals and operating budgets. We also highlighted applying the highest ethical standards to maintain trust between organizations and their constituents.

“But of even greater benefit is the chance to speak with leaders in the region who understand the parameters and obstacles that these women face – each day.  As one Fellow noted, ‘I was impressed by what Azza was able to do, and learned a lot about fundraising especially as she was operating in a similar cultural context to ours.’”

The sharing of skills by a Fellow from a previous cohort with the current class enhances the experience of both parties. Similarly, it helps develop an ever-growing network.  The future of the Middle East and North Africa regions will be improved by dynamic women leaders.