2020 Impact Report

Jul 3, 2021

Click here to view a PDF of NEF’s 2020 Impact Report or scroll down to view the online version.




























2020 Impact Report







































leading to a dangerous rise in 
— but —



  • President’s Message
  • Where We Work
  • Program Impact
  • Financials
  • Boards of Directors
  • Partners



Our Mission

Since 1915, NEF has worked with local partners to enable innovative, sustainable, community-led economic and social development across the Middle East, Africa, and the Caucasus.



Dear Friends,

It is due to your immeasurable commitment and generosity of spirit that I am able to report proudly that 2020 was a critical year of meaningful impact. In a year where our global community experienced extreme hardship and overwhelming loss, you helped NEF to make sure that communities most marginalized and affected by the impacts of far- reaching economic and health crises are not forgotten.

2020 was a year of adaptation, resilience, innovation, and impact — providing direct support to 878,246 people. The disruptions we faced challenged us to become ever more creative in our programmatic approach and operational efficiency. This has ensured that we can provide critical services to marginalized communities across the Middle East, northern Africa, and Caucasus, while maintaining progress in protecting livelihoods, improving incomes, ensuring food security, and preserving healthy communities.

Building on our 106 years of experience straddling the humanitarian aid/development nexus, we remain focused on community-centered, sustainable programs that move people from a reliance on short-term emergency aid toward long-term self-sufficiency.

It is unquestionable that the support of our donors and partners has enabled us to realize our mission during times of great need. I hope you will share a sense of pride in the achievements made by our collective action over the past year.

Thank you for your commitment to a better and more equitable future.

With sincere gratitude,




Charles Benjamin, NEF President & CEO










































Where We Work

NEF Global Map 2021_Map


 Screen Shot 2021-07-06 at 12.30.33 PM

Locally Led Development

We draw on more than 100 years of experience creating locally led and owned solutions to improve livelihoods and governance. 99% of our team are local to the communities they support.

Partnering for Progress

NEF partners with local and international private, public, and civil society actors to make a sustained impact on underserved communities. In 2020, we partnered with more than 400 local organizations, building their capacity to deliver effective livelihoods services.

Ensuring Inclusivity

We prioritize the empowerment and protection of women, youth, people with disabilities, displaced populations, and other marginalized groups across our programs. 

2020 Impact

Through community-driven action, NEF’s programs support marginalized and disenfranchised people across three interlinked program areas.

Peacebuilding and Stabilization

NEF supports economic recovery and facilitates peace and stability in conflict and post-conflict communities through civic engagement and economic cooperation.

Inclusive Economic Development

NEF builds economic and social resilience through entrepreneurship, employment, microfinance, peer mentoring, and social support.

Climate Resilient Development

NEF facilitates climate adaptation, governance, and resilience-building to improve food security, livelihoods, and natural resources management. 





Building Brighter Futures

We believe that all people should have equal opportunities to build and sustain safe, dignified lives. To achieve this vision, we help people and communities move beyond survival by providing them with resources and tools to achieve a better future.

$12.9 M









Responding in Times of Crisis

As crises struck NEF partner communities, we leveraged our networks, local knowledge, and tested tools to support critical emergency responses and early recovery.

image0 - edited

Global Pandemic

At the outset of the pandemic, we collaborated with local partners, health committees, and governments to incorporate COVID-19 education and safety protocols into existing initiatives. Our team launched business adaptation & recovery initiatives and an online training platform to help small entrepreneurs protect their livelihoods by ensuring business continuity, rapid adaptation, and enterprise resilience.

Armenia_Emergency Response_2 (1) (1)

Conflict in Armenia

After the outbreak of the Nagorno- Karabakh war, we launched a rapid response program to build the capacity of local NGOs and community facilities in Syunik, Gegharkunik, and Yerevan to address emergency needs. So far, we have helped 623 conflict-affected people through the distribution of food, hygiene kits, warm clothing, bedding, financial support, and other essential items and services.


NEF shooting by Création 9

Beirut Port Explosion

After a damaging explosion shook Lebanon’s capital, we mobilized with local partners to support small business recovery, shelter rehabilitation, and employment in vulnerable, impacted communities. We’ve helped 130 small businesses to recover losses and resume business activities. 130 skilled workers are also supported to recover lost materials and secure employment, working on repair projects in impacted areas. Our response evolves as we address the impact of the explosion in addition to the ongoing economic and refugee crisis in Lebanon.

DSC_9483 - edited

Food Crisis in Sudan

To address the food and health crisis in Sudan, we worked with partners to distribute more than 28,000 metric tons of food in South Kordofan and to support women’s vegetable production and sale. In parallel, we worked with the Ministry of Health to activate local hygiene committees, upgrade water/ sanitation infrastructure, and provide training and protective gear against COVID-19.



Building Economic & Social Resilience

NEF shooting by Création 9

Creating Stronger Entrepreneurial Ecosystems

NEF takes a whole systems approach to building healthy entrepreneurial ecosystems, working with the private sector, financial sector, academia, government agencies, and professional associations. In Morocco, we worked with business incubators, Emerging Business Factory and Creative Hub, along with other key stakeholders to improve business services offered to more than 260 enterprises, including 50 youth-led “gazelles” (high growth potential businesses). This effort created more than 350 full-time jobs and has mobilized $3.5M in business finance and investment.

Across Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon NEF’s Siraj Centers offer tested and adaptable services for foundational business development and enterprise acceleration, with an eye toward diversifying and strengthening the market – last year creating 3,069 new jobs. A network of 15 Centers across the region now operate under a shared set of principles, share information and learning, generate wider evidence of impact, and are paving the way for programmatic self-sufficiency.

Inclusive Finance

Access to finance is a barrier to growth for many vulnerable entrepreneurs and is critical to reducing poverty and reliance on humanitarian aid. NEF designs tailored lending products for hard-to- reach, vulnerable entrepreneurs in dynamic, high threat environments. In parallel, we offer business strengthening services, peer-to-peer mentorship, and small group coaching to support business growth, loan repayment, and women’s leadership.

In 2020, NEF’s community revolving credit fund in Jordan made 82 loans to vulnerable Jordanians, with a 100% repayment rate. In Morocco, we worked with local partners to launch a first-of-its-kind digital financing platform, Tamwil, for entrepreneurs looking for business financing. In Northeast Syria, we launched a community-based revolving fund to support business growth for 480 entrepreneurs. And in Mali, we created an agricultural value chain credit fund, ensuring access to finance for 3,364 small-scale producers and processors in key agricultural value chains.


people with increased
through business expansion


people trained in financial
literacy and business management

noun_job_2714603 (1)

full-time jobs created or secured


Helping Businesses Recover, Adapt, and Grow

Through Siraj Centers, NEF works with local partners to offer a suite of services to help vulnerable, small entrepreneurs improve and scale their working capital, profit, and assets – preparing entrepreneurs for long- term growth and success and providing critical income and employment to the community.

Small entrepreneurs have access to 40+ Siraj training modules focused on business development, marketing, financial literacy, protection and leadership, prioritizing women and youth as drivers of community development. In 2020, 3,485 businesses launched or expanded with support from these services across Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Morocco, and Armenia.


Going Digital

In April 2020, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, NEF expanded its business services 10 to include Siraj Digital – an e-learning platform. Since its launch, we have worked with 11 local partners to co-deliver virtual trainings, graduating 3,372 entrepreneurs in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, and Syria.

Siraj Digital is available in Arabic, English, and French and uses technology that is accessible to vulnerable people in complex environments to encourage uptake and wide-scale use.


Jordan Profile_Tamam_2 (1)

Tamam’s Kitchen | Jordan

Tamam received an interest free loan to expand her kitchen and cooking business. “With the additional money, I upgraded my kitchen’s dining room. This enabled me to secure a contract with Azraq Hostel which will bring more customers and tour groups to my kitchen to cook and eat traditional foods.” She also participated in business trainings to develop her skills in marketing and financial planning. Tamam has gone on to become an instructor for more than just tourists: she now coaches three other women in NEF’s projects who want to start their own food processing businesses.




Hygiène Pro Services | Morocco

Ranya (center) co-founded Hygiène Pro, a pest control business, with Jaouad (right) in 2018. Even though Ranya and Jaouad offered unique products and services, their business struggled. They worked with NEF to review their business plan, identify key challenges, and make a plan for growth. As a result, NEF helped them redesign marketing materials, provided one-on-one training on marketing techniques, and facilitated market linkages.

When COVID-19 hit, Ranya and Jaouad were faced with new challenges. NEF supported them in developing adaptation strategies to help Hygiène Pro expand its services to respond to the health measures instituted by authorities. Hygiène Pro now offers full disinfection services, approved by the Moroccan Ministry of Health, for businesses reopening after the lockdown in Morocco. Despite the challenging economic times, Hygiène Pro has seen business growth and the addition of new clients, including service contracts with four tourist establishments and food factories.

“With help from NEF, we [Hygiène Pro] were able to secure certificates, create a marketing plan, and expand our services to help enforce health measures and protect against COVID-19″ – Ranya

Protecting Against Climate Shocks


Community Driven Climate Adaptation

Small-scale agriculture is the primary source of food for rural communities in the Sahel. Smallholders grow crops to provide their families with essential nutrition – but reliable access to water, seeds, and agricultural tools remains a challenge. Increased levels of insecurity and fragility caused by government instability, conflict, and a rapidly changing climate have worsened food security and harmed livelihoods.

NEF partners with civil society, local governments, and communities to develop community-driven initiatives to build climate resilience, protect resource-based livelihoods, and improve food security.

In Mali, we work across 80 communities to support local climate adaptation projects that have improved food security for 114,884 people. In Sudan, we support sustainable agriculture production to protect natural resources and increase food self-sufficiency, reaching 390,778 people in North and South Kordofan.

Atelier_identification des jeunes entrepreneurs_PASARC II Mopti (66) - edited

noun_nutritious healthy diet_2685481


individuals with improved food security
and resilience to climate change


people with access to safe water


WASH kits distributed

Mali_PASARC_29-editedInclusive and Resilient Agricultural Value Chains

NEF works with local associations to advance women’s livelihoods and strengthen their role in agriculture-based livelihoods. We help women strengthen their collective bargaining power and improve their incomes through access to finance, markets, and business management skills.

In Mali, we have supported 9,217 people to adopt more productive, market-oriented, and climate- adapted production and processing practices – improving income and food security in rice, livestock, shallot, non-timber forest products (NTFP), fonio, and sesame value chains. In Sudan, NEF has mobilized 12 women’s cooperatives working in the production of NTFPs and other cash crops such as hibiscus — supporting 2,392 individuals (1,798 women) to improve production, processing, and market access.

Collaborative Natural Resource Management

In Mali, we engage community leaders to develop local conventions and land-use management plans to improve food security, sustainable natural resource management, and conflict mitigation. Last year, we helped communities adopt sustainable management plans and eco-efficient practices to benefit over 43,781 hectares of productive land. We have also formed five Forest Brigades, training 210 people, including women, on forest regeneration, restoration, water and soil conservation and protection. In Sudan, we rehabilitated 85 water points and established 34 water and sanitation committees, training members on improved water management and hygiene practices.

Fatoumata Cisse

Fatoumata | Mali

Fatoumata, a mother of eight, was eager to improve her income. “I learned a lot from the training workshops and advice from the livestock service officers on best practices. I bought a bull at 150,000 Central African Francs (CAF) and fattened it to resell it for 300,000 CFA, making a 92,000 profit. I could not have made this kind of money in one year of selling mangoes and peanuts.”

Creating Pathways for Recovery


Creating Opportunities for Economic Recovery

NEF is expanding opportunities among displaced people, returnees, and host communities to accelerate economic recovery, enable safe and voluntary returns, rebuild economies, and build resilience against destabilization. Through its Siraj Centers, NEF is working in conflict-affected communities to create market-driven opportunities for economic participation with the aim of helping people recover their income to meet basic needs and strengthen their local economies.

Key to economic recovery is engaging disenfranchised youth. In Iraq, NEF supports vocational and employability training for 265 young Iraqis in trades linked to rehabilitation of community assets like information and communications technology and local vocational training schools.

In Syria, NEF improved livelihood opportunities and the economic resilience of 2,460 smallholder agricultural producers and food processors. These efforts improved the income of farmers and producers by 712%, on average.


Rebuilding Food Systems

In many conflict-affected communities, food systems have eroded and remain underdeveloped, informal, and unstructured — leading to heightened vulnerability and conflict. NEF works with smallholder farmers and food processors across these communities to rebuild and reinforce food systems to improve production, harvesting, supply chains, and consumption – creating new opportunities for economic recovery and resilience.

In Mali, Sudan, and Syria, we work with women producers in the agriculture sector to improve the processing and packaging quality of their products and to access fairer and more profitable sales channels. Last year, these efforts improved the income of 12,677 conflict-affected people.


Mohammed | Iraq

Mohammed’s long-time passion and aptitude for electronics led him to open a small workshop repairing mobile phones. “A friend brought NEF’s program to my attention. I was able to register for courses to improve my skills – technical and entrepreneurial – to take my mobile phone repair workshop to the next level. I am happy with what I have achieved and that I am able to support my community.”


Shaha | Syria

“I used to struggle selling my food products using traditional methods. I’ve now seen a big improvement after learning new skills,” said Shaha. After Shaha’s husband was killed in a bombing, she became the sole supporter for their four children. Shaha joined NEF’s food processing training program to improve her income. She learned new ways of processing molokhia, apricots, cherries, makdous and more – improving the quality of her product and gaining the ability to financially support her family.


Looking Ahead

With the support of our partners and donors, we are committed to expanding our reach to support more vulnerable people in need, deepening our impact in the communities we serve, and ensuring sustainability through community ownership, technological innovation and new business models.


NEF is committed to providing the highest levels of transparency and efficiency. See our complete FY2020 consolidated financial report at www.neareast.org/resources/#financial-reports 

Screen Shot 2021-05-27 at 9.36.33 AM


NEF Board of Directors


Haig Mardikian, Chair

Johnson Garrett, Vice Chair/Secretary

Mona Eraiba, Treasurer

Charles Benjamin, Ph.D., President

Carol B. Aslanian

Myrna A. Barakat

Nina Bogosian Quigley

Randa El-Sayed Haffar

Rana Gillmon

Jeff Habib

Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Osamah Khalil

Shant Mardirossian

Patrick Malkassian

Robert J. Solomon


Anthony R. Williams, Chair

Robert Brown, Ph.D.

Johnson Garrett

Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D.

Linda Layne, Ph.D.

Anthony G. Williams, Ph.D.


Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D., Chair

Nina Bogossian Quigley

Robert Brown, Ph.D.

Johnson Garrett

Amr Nosseir

Anthony G. Williams, Ph.D.

Anthony R. Williams


John Kerr, Ph.D.

John McPeak, Ph.D.

Thomas Mullins (in memorium)

Juliet Sorensen, J.D.

Michaela Walsh


Shahnaz Batmanghelidj

Amir Farman-Farma

John Goelet

John Grammer (in memorium)

Ronald Miller

Anthony R. Williams

Tarek Younes


H.E. Andre Azoula

Ian Bremme

Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian

Vartan Gregorian, Ph.D. (in memorium)

Ambassador Richard W. Murphy

Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan

James B. Steinberg

Ambassador Frank G. Wisner

Funding Partners

Aurora Humanitarian Initiative

Bogosian Quigley Foundation

Carnegie Corporation of New York

Center for Disaster Philanthropy

Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation

Dadourian Foundation

European Union

Flora Family Foundation

Global Giving Foundation

Global Affairs Canada

Global Affairs Canada

Government of the Netherlands

International Organization for Migration

John Mirak Foundation


 Open Society Foundations

Stephen Philibosian Foundation

Syria Recovery Trust Fund

The Chubb Charitable Foundation

The Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation

The Fulgraff Foundation

The Greene-Milstein Family Foundation

The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative

Together Rising

UK Aid Direct

United Nations Population Fund

U.S. Agency for International


USAID Bureau for Humanitarian


U.S. Department of State Bureau of

Population, Refugees and Migration

Vitol Foundation

World Food Programme

Implementing Partners

Abna Al-Sudan Development


Al Hadatha Association


Astghavard NGO

Association Jeunes pour Jeunes

Azraq Women Productive Cooperative Association

Cluster Menara

Emerging Business Factory

Friends of Peace and Development

International Development and Peace

Iraqi Al Amal

Kapan Women’s Resource Center NGO

Kuforsoum Cooperative Association for
Pomegranate Producers

Maison des Associations (Safi)

Majales Alkhair for Peace and
Development Organization

 Marrakech Generations

Organization for Voluntary

Humanitarian Assistance Program

Qawafil Al Khair for Relief and


Sanabel Nour

Sevan Youth Club


Social, Humanitarian, Economical

Intervention for Local Development

Sudanese Red Crescent Society

Syracuse University

UNICEF Water, Environment, and
Sanitation Programme

Women’s Development Resource Centre

Foundation – Goris

Women’s Support Center – Yerevan

Youth Society for Self-Development



A community of generous donors makes our work possible. We are grateful for every donation we receive and we hope that you will continue to support NEF long into the future.

Thank You to Our Donors

$50,000 and above

Linda K. Jacobs

Mrs. Nina Bogosian Quigley and Mr. Matthew Quigley


Rana Arabi
Randa El-Sayed Haffar
Shant Mardirossian
Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, Inc.
Robert J. Solomon
Haig Mardikian
Mona Eraiba


Carol B. Aslanian
Bryan N. Ison
Charles J. Bird
Seth H. Hollander
Rana Gillmon
Elias Habayeb
Patrick Malkassian
Elias Habayeb
Matthew Quigley
Carol B. Aslanian
Shahnaz Batmanghelidj
Stacey B. Case


Karim Mostafa
Frances K. Ross
The Rich & Bev Worford Charitable Fund
The Greene-Milstein Family Foundation
Joan Rothermel
Wesley Hayden
Mark W. Rutherford
The Fullgraf Foundation
Melissa B. Dodge
Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation, Inc.
Richard and Barbara C. Lacy
Ron & Sue Miller
Karen Bedrosian-Richardson
Arthur Aznavorian
James Fleming
Herbert D. Floyd
Eric Widmer
William Raynolds
Richard Linhart
John Mirak Foundation
Rosekrans Fund
C. Christine Amirian Charitable Fund
Susan Penn
Stephen Ferrari
Diana Mkhitarian
John M. Kerr
GlobalGiving Foundation
Herbert D. Floyd
Community Church of East Williston
GlobalGiving Foundation
Linda Layne
Ara Bagdasarian
Kevork S. Toroyan
Anthony Enders
Pauline Barooshian
Anthony Enders
Charles E. Benjamin
Anthony J. Draye
Alexander R. Robarts
Vartan Gregorian
Jessie S. Maeck
Samuel Rea
Phillip Newmark
Dennis Leuer
Cornelia Dodge
Najwa Fayoumi
Court Ballinger
Anthony J. Draye
Christine Nagorski
Holly Pittman
David Russell
Ann Z. Kerr



Up to $499
Stephen Craxton
Peter DiCola
Deana Arsenian
Juliet Sorensen
Mary Ellen Connell
Michael Brody
Lina Obeid
Julie Andrews
Suha Hamid
M.K. Smith
Carmen Bambach
Adrine Katchadurian
Dan Olson
Horizons Foundation
Paul Wong
Dan Olson
Robert Maksudian
Joanna Buboltz
Jennifer Burns
Harry N. Mazadoorian
Stratoula Stathacos
Jonathan Cosby
Constantinos D. Agouridis
Keith Miller
Eric Miller
Brian Miller
Hampartsum Ghazarossian
Ellery Flynn
Emily Bass
Armenian Renaissance Association Inc.
Henry B. Morgenthau
Lynne A. Kassabian
Heratch O. Doumanian
Richard Zubek
Leon Siroonian
Hovhannes Mardirossian
Lillian M. Pillay
Bob Johns
Judy Rudolph
Judy Torrison
Mary Benjamin
Muffadal Lokhandwala
Mary Papazian
Kerry A. Ikone
Richard Kazanjian
Armen Shahinian
Armenian Relief Society, Spitak Chapter
Aram Serverian
Carl Pforzheimer
Kerry A. Ikone
Richard Sarajian
Roger Whitaker
Woodrow Bjork
Varsenne Sarkissian
Ken Darian
Deana Arsenian
James Bjork
GlobalGiving Foundation
Charlotte Lenzner
John Gram
Armen Shahinian
William J. Griswold
George Dermksian
George Mekenian
Anoush Miridjanian
Aram Serverian
Janet Rith-Najarian
Gennaro W. Avolio
Stacia VanDyne
Mazen Haddad
Karen Novak
Stephen Malott
Mazen Haddad
Louis Kriesberg
Sebastian Bozlee
Raphael Barsamian
Joe March
Elaine Pierce
Sara Helen Ayanian
Carmen Gaddini
Margaret Hermann
John Fox
Barbara Merguerian
David Kohler
Denise Dodds
Carmen Gaddini
Susan S S. Davis
David Kohler
Keith M. Ferguson
George Postian
Merze Mazmanian
Magda G. Baligh
Dirk Hommer
Mary-Ann Sievert
Lauren Wysmuller
Sam L. Gousen
Mary Tatarian
David Kohler
Arsine Oshagan
Zabel Hatem
Eric Hicks
Donna A. Friedman
Helene Zindarsian
Victor Peters
John Gram
George S. Dunham
Gregory Mamassian
Elizabeth G. Hale-Mackinnon
G  David Dorian
Samuel Billard
Mary Papazian
Arsine Oshagan
David Kohler
Lori Asquith
AIG Corporate
David Kohler
Margaret Hermann
Robert Ruth
Raphael Barsamian
Velma Kahn
Jacqueline Gamache
Jim K. Wright
Stephen Judge
Kenneth S. Winer
William J. Mostler
David Stewart
Jack Woltman
IBM Employee Services Center
Armen Boyajian
Nancy Kassabian
Doug Rice
Robin Weil
Armen Boyajian
Heratch O. Doumanian
Kenneth Sarajian
Donna A. Friedman
Lori Asquith
IBM Employee Services Center
Tigran Cholakyan
Rachel Van Amburgh
Mackenzie Singh
Elana Novack
John E. Post
Edgar Hayrapetyan
Jared F. Wright

A Trusted Steward of your Philanthropy for over 100 Years

Cost-Effective Programs

NEF delivers high impact programs while keeping our overhead costs low, making the most of your donation. Your support of NEF helps build knowledge, strengthen voices, and create economic opportunity for those that need it most.

Charity Navigator

For the 6th year, NEF earned the top 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator. This has been achieved by only 11% of charities in the US.

Global Giving

NEF is recognized as a vetted member of the GlobalGiving community for being a trusted partner and global change-maker.

Better Business Bureau

NEF is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau, meeting the highest standards for ethics and accountability to ensure confident charitable giving.








By using this website, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.

Wordpress Social Share Plugin powered by Ultimatelysocial