Near East Foundation
2021 Impact Report
The people we support are the face of economic development, climate resilience, and peace in their communities.
We work alongside people impacted by conflict, injustice, and poverty to:
- support their immediate and longer-term needs
- remove barriers to their success, and
- amplify their voice
Together, we combine local expertise with pioneering solutions to bring stability and prosperity to communities, now – and for generations to come.
100+ Years, 1 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.
To Our Committed Supporters,
2021 was a year of continued impact, innovation, and growth at the Near East Foundation.
With your enduring commitment, together we supported 1.1 million people – and delivered critically needed tools and training to 170 communities across the Middle East, Africa, and the Caucasus. These services created safe, inclusive opportunities for people to earn a dignified income and take meaningful steps toward rebuilding their livelihoods and communities.
NEF’s work has always relied on the actions of ordinary citizens who stand up to injustice and stand with vulnerable communities. From donors around the world to local experts, community partners, and our global team – we continue to come together to make sure people in crisis are supported to build the future they deserve.
To deliver this impact, the past year required NEF to swiftly adapt to the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic while continuing to respond to the multidimensional crises that challenge our partner communities. This report illustrates concrete examples of how your partnership translated into meaningful action – bringing stability, prosperity, and hope to hundreds of thousands of people.
From all of us, we thank you for your commitment to empowering local communities in their pursuit of realizing a better and more equitable future.
With sincere gratitude,
The NEF Team
Investing in Local Communities
We work in some of the world’s most challenging environments. Together with our partners, we help people move away from poverty and insecurity toward self-sufficiency and stability.
We build people’s economic and social resilience through entrepreneurship, employment, access to finance, peer mentoring, and social support.
We facilitate climate adaptation, governance, and resilience building to improve food security, livelihoods, and natural resources management.
Peace & Stability
We support early recovery, peace, and stability in crises-impacted communities through civic engagement and economic cooperation.
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.
567,786 WOMEN, 548,308 YOUTH,
279,751 DISPLACED PEOPLE,
111,216 DISABLED PEOPLE
EVERY $14 RAISED = 1 LIFE CHANGED
The Face of Economic Development
Helping people to move beyond survival to stability.
People who suffer the most from the impacts of conflict, injustice, and a rapidly changing climate are those who stand determined to fight for their survival, their dignity, and the betterment of their communities. But millions of people remain marginalized and without access to the tools and resources needed to earn a reliable source of income — trapping people into a vicious cycle of poverty, inequity, and instability.
Our work proves that when people are economically empowered, they gain the ability to build a life, make plans, and cope when crisis hits. We create both spaces for people to express their needs and pathways to safely earn a sustainable income, helping them to regain control over their lives and build more productive and resilient communities.
NEF’s Siraj program now includes 17 Siraj Centers across the region and an expanded digital curriculum that helps vulnerable people start and expand small businesses.
- Business management training to help people launch, sustain, and grow their small businesses
- Access to grants, loans, financial investment and banking
- Job opportunities and employment support
- Social support, peer mentoring, and networking
“I had an ambition to grow vegetables and sell them. If a person is serious, he will succeed. A person should not mentally limit themselves because of a physical disability.” – Manaf, a fruit and vegetable grocer in Iraq
Oumou | Mali
“I fattened sheep to sell at the market to support my young family, but it never resulted in enough profit. I couldn’t earn enough income to do more and felt stuck. I then heard about NEF’s lending program where I could access credit. With a loan, I was able to purchase a cow and carry out cattle fattening, which is more profitable than sheep. With my first cow, I made a profit of 35,000 CFA which I used to buy more cattle, a ram, and the feed needed to fatten them for sale. With the profit I make, I can support my family’s food needs and children’s school fees. There are now many women in my community who are becoming financially secure thanks to NEF’s fund!”
Suhair | Jordan
“I began selling clothing, cosmetics, and accessories from my home to help my family make ends meet. It was very difficult to keep stock and grow my income. I tried many times to apply for a loan, but the process was challenging. I then heard about NEF’s loan program. With guidance, I received a $750 loan and business management training from my Siraj Center. I have been able to buy the materials needed to meet my customers’ needs and now also better manage my inventory and accounts. I am proud to say that I have paid back my loan entirely with the profit I’ve made.”
10.8 k loans and grants distributed. Loans have high repayment rates and are managed through NEF’s custom Loan Management System.
Revolving Credit Fund | Syria
In 2021, NEF launched a first of its kind community revolving credit fund (RCF) in Northeast Syria. The RCF has disbursed more than 640 loans (with a 99% repayment rate) and provides complementary business development services, helping micro- and small entrepreneurs to improve their income, create jobs, and support local economic recovery.
“Before receiving a RCF loan, I prepared dough for my at home bakery by hand – it was time intensive and physically exhausting. With the loan I purchased an industrial mixer. This has improved my efficiency, decreased my labor, and increased my monthly sales!” – Sonya, a Syrian Baker
“My work as a tailor is important, especially as I suffer from hearing loss. I used to work from my kitchen using outdated equipment. With the $600 loan I received, I have been able to rent a workshop and buy new equipment and materials – transforming my business.” – Ahmed, a tailor in Syria
Ahmed*, a tailor, and Sonya*, a baker, both received a loan and training to professionalize their business, improving their efficiency and profit.
* Names changed to protect project beneficiaries.
Siham | Morocco
“From digital marketing to business management and registration – I received a lot of support to get my guest house up and running. Through the project, I made connections to new clients and became much more confident and self-assured. When the pandemic hit, government restrictions required me to close my guest house. During this time I received support on how to adapt and manage the risk. I am glad to say that my guest house has safely reopened!”
157 businesses expanded by young Moroccans, creating 218 new jobs.
Wael | Lebanon
“As Syrian refugees in Lebanon, my family [wife and two children] lived on a monthly income of $180, mainly relying on aid. It was through NEF’s program that I was able to attend a business training and develop my shoemaking business, building upon the skills I already had. I learned bookkeeping and how to track my expenses and manage my profit. And with a grant, I bought the needed equipment to launch my shop and begin work.”
$1 = $2.6. Every $1 spend on NEF’s livelihoods programming in Lebanon has resulted in $2.6 put back into the Lebanese economy.
Refugee Impact Bond | Jordan and Lebanon
The first ever Development Impact Bond (DIB) for refugees launched in 2021, to support the expansion of NEF’s vocational, entrepreneurship, and resilience-building program over four years. Services are strengthening the capacity of both refugees and host communities to recover from crisis, emerge from poverty, and achieve economic independence.
With public and private funding, the DIB offers an innovative and flexible outcomes-based approach to maximize impact while generating a return for investors. The first tranche of the DIB has launched in Jordan with the second tranche in Lebanon to follow once additional funding is secured.
DIB Impact Goals:
- 4,380 people supported with tools to lift themselves out of vulnerability
- +17% expected increase in household consumption
- 2,560 small businesses created and supported
- 75% women and 30% youth supported
The Face of Climate Resilience
Building climate resilient communities for generations to come.
The communities we work in are on the frontlines of the global climate crisis, yet they lack access to the information, tools, and infrastructure to adapt. Resource scarcity from droughts, deforestation, extreme temperatures and other stresses are drastically compromising people’s food and economic security.
We partner with civil society, local governments, and communities to develop community-driven initiatives and provide access to necessary tools and resources to build people’s climate resilience, protect resource-based livelihoods, and improve agricultural production.
NEF supports communities to become more resilient through:
- The development of agricultural value chains through access to training, technology, inputs, and finance.
- Collaborative natural resource management planning with local communities and governments.
- Investments in infrastructure and productive assets such as solar powered water pumps, fuel-efficient cook stoves, and water-efficient irrigation systems.
- Forest protection measures like tree planting, forest brigade training to protect tree cover, and diversifying livelihoods away from timber.
Amadou | A Smallholder Farmer in Mali
“With support, I established a market garden to help feed my family and sell produce for additional income in the local market. In my garden, I graft Jujube plants for sale. With the profit I earned, I purchased a solar motor pump to better irrigate the garden to improve the health and yield of my crops.”
Improving Livelihoods and Supporting Climate Action | Mali
NEF works in the Mopti region to improve livelihoods, increase forest cover and reduce carbon emissions through reforestation, forest protection, and water, soil, and energy conservation measures. To ensure sustainability, NEF is fencing reforested areas, forming community-led forest protection brigades, and supporting local communities to register reforestation sites with the Chamber of Agriculture in Mali.
- 7k local producers implemented improved, eco-efficient practices on 7,164 hectares of land.
- 600 cookstoves constructed and distributed to 300 households to improve energy- and time-efficiency.
- 85 women trained in non-timber forest products in Mali to improve food, nutrition, and income – like preparing monkey bread, tamarind juice, and data syrup for consumption and sale.
Improved Water Management | Mali
Empowering Women | Sudan
We supported 1,517 women and 15 women-led cooperatives in Sudan, improving their agency and inclusion in key agricultural value chains. Support includes new techniques that reduce the degradation of trees, create market linkages to improve income and elevate women’s voices in negotiation, and commercialize high value products like gum arabic and desert dates.
Boosting Food Production | South Sudan
To support food and income security, we’ve worked with communities in South Sudan to establish 15 demonstration farms and micro-gardens. Nearby households are provided with seeds and tools to farm the land – using crops grown to feed their families and selling the surplus as a form of income.
The Face of Peace & Stability
Creating more peaceful and prosperous communities through partnership.
Reoccurring conflict and political upheaval erode the economy and food systems in our partner communities, increasing competition for jobs and natural resources for people who are already struggling to make ends meet. Instability and scarcity increases inequity and exclusion, creating tension that undermines peace and prosperity where women and young people suffer the most.
To help communities work toward stability and productivity, NEF expands opportunities for people to recover their income, strengthen social cohesion and local capacity, and improve infrastructure so people have more reliable and equal access to essential resources, like clean water, and income earning opportunities.
Community Planning | South Sudan
NEF guides villagers in a collaborative community mapping exercise used to visualize and plan water point and sanitation upgrades to improve community health and hygiene, resource management, and social cohesion. NEF conducts similar conflict mitigation exercises in other water-scarce, agricultural communities, like Sudan and Mali.
Delivering Clean Water | Sudan
When supplies were needed to build a mini-water yard in Arrow Village (Central Darfur State), no roads were accessible by vehicle due to poor infrastructure and heavy rains.
The only way for NEF to reach the village and provide much needed support to this under-served community was to use animals to carry the pipes, solar panels, iron sheets, cement, and other supplies needed. Loaded on the backs of donkeys and camels, the materials successfully reached the village, and the water yard was completed to improve safe and reliable access to clear water for the community.
“Now we have water available within our village. And without long lines or needing to travel a distance, we [women] have gotten time back to attend to our other priorities.” – A woman from Arrow Village
60 local water and sanitation committees established to maintain infrastructure and address local needs. NEF trains local artisans and technicians on manufacturing water pumps, latrines, and water yards.
Young People Building Back
We empower young people knowing the critical role they play in rebuilding their communities. We create opportunities for them to realize a future free from the conflict and instability they have experienced.
In Iraq we supported three livelihoods pathways for young people: microenterprise development, agricultural recovery, and vocational trainings. Vocational training included workshops on electric repair, HVAC, and hairdressing. In Sudan, we organized Farmer Field Schools for young people with trainings on plant preparation, nursery bed setup and transplanting, crop production, weeding, integrated pest management, post-harvest management, and farm produce marketing.
533 young Iraqis supported to improve their job prospects and income.
“It became difficult to find a job. We heard that the Near East Foundation supported young people who have ideas that they want to implement on the ground. When we presented our idea for our horticulture business, they supported and welcomed us.”
– Nuha (top), a young agribusiness entrepreneur
15 Farmer Field Schools established to support young South Sudanese women and men.
The Face of Crisis Response
When crises strike our partner communities we leverage our local teams and networks to quickly mobilize early recovery and rapid adaptation strategies to help people navigate their immediate needs while maintaining a focus on long-term resilience and self-sufficiency.
From the COVID-19 pandemic, war in Armenia and the Beirut port explosion, our teams have met people where they are and worked with community partners to develop innovative solutions that support livelihoods recovery, food security and infrastructure repair.
4,041 people across Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria continued to receive livelihoods support during the pandemic through NEF’s e-learning Siraj Digital platform.
The Power of Bread | Armenia
Since the war, Armenian border villages have economically struggled from decreased access to wheat and limited use of their land for agriculture, while continuing to host displaced families from Artsakh.
NEF partnered with a local organization in Nerkin Khndzoresk village to launch a bakery as a social enterprise to create job opportunities for displaced women and local residents affected by the war and to boost food security. Profits are being reinvested into the bakery and channeled toward local community development activities.
“The launch of the bakery is a revitalizing force that will give Armenians an opportunity to be inspired, to live, survive, and win again.”
– Narine, a village resident
Rapid Recovery | Lebanon
After the Beirut Port Blast left thousands of people without homes or their businesses, NEF partnered with Anera, SHEILD and other local partners to support safe shelter rehabilitation, small business recovery, and employment – impacting 1,200 people.
Vulnerable skilled workers, households, and small businesses within the explosion site were prioritized, with a focus on the heavily impacted areas of Burj Hammoud, Karantina, and Khandak Al Ghamik.
88% of families supported said they felt safer with the support received.
97% of business supported resumed their activities with support and 64% increased their income.
“Between the COVID-19 pandemic and the high exchange rate, it was impossible to repair my house. Without the help of Anera and NEF, I would not have been able to live again in my home.”
– Armenoy, Burj Hammoud resident (woman above)
NEF is committed to providing the highest levels of transparency and efficiency. See our complete fiscal year 2021 consolidated financial report at www.neareast.org/resources/#financial-reports
” I started with three beehives and with NEF support I was able to expand. I now own more than 20 beehives and dream of having a large business that will meet the needs of the region and the province for honey.”
– Ali, an Iraqi beekeeper
The frequency of crises across the regions we work in only continues to grow, causing widespread displacement and threatening to push millions more people into poverty. Guided by our 2021-2027 Strategic Plan, 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 and innovation.
By 2028, we have a plan to double the size of NEF’s program and triple our impact to support 3 million people every year.
Key to achieving this ambitious impact goal is your continued support.
NEF Board of Directors
* List reflects fiscal year 2021 (July 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021)
U.S. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Haig Mardikian, Chair
Johnson Garrett, Vice Chair/ Secretary
Mona Eraiba, Treasurer
Charles Benjamin, Ph.D., CEO
Carol B. Aslanian
Myrna A. Barakat
Nina Bogosian Quigley
Randa El-Sayed Haffar
Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D.
U.K. BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Anthony R. Williams, Chair
Robert Brown, Ph.D.
Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D.
Linda Layne, Ph.D.
Anthony G. Williams, Ph.D.
BELGIUM BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D., Chair
Nina Bogossian Quigley
Robert Brown, Ph.D.
Anthony G. Williams, Ph.D
John Kerr, Ph.D.
John McPeak, Ph.D.
Juliet Sorensen, J.D.
Anthony R. Williams
H.E. Andre Azoula
Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian
Ambassador Richard W. Murphy
Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
James B. Steinberg
Ambassador Frank G. Wisner
“NEF’s training helped me start my business in a powerful way. Through business management trainings I learned how to do calculations and operate my business. And with the grant I received, I was able to purchase the equipment I needed to start.”
– Abir, a baker and mother of four in Lebanon
A Responsible Steward of your Philanthropy
High Impact Programs: 93% of donations directly support program activities
We deliver high impact programs, making the most of your donation. Your support builds knowledge, strengthens voices, and creates economic opportunity for those who need it most.
For the 7th year, we earned the top 4-star rating from Charity Navigator, America’s largest independent charity evaluator.
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.
Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
Bogosian Quigley Foundation
Carnegie Corporation of New York
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation
Flora Family Foundation
Global Giving Foundation
Global Resilience Partnership
Government of the Netherlands
International Organization for Migration
John Mirak Foundation
Open Society Foundations
Stephen Philibosian Foundation
Stockholm Resilience Centre
Syria Recovery Trust Fund
The Chubb Charitable Foundation
The Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation
The Fulgraff Foundation
The Greene-Milstein Family Foundation
UK Aid Direct
United Nations Population Fund
U.S. Agency for International Development
USAID Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance
U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration
U.S. Department of State, Middle East Partnership Initiative
World Food Programme
Abna Al-Sudan Development Organization
Al Hadatha Association
Association Jeunes pour Jeunes
Azraq Women Productive Cooperative Association
Centre for Emergency and Development Support
Emerging Business Factory
Friends of Peace and Development Organization
Idoun Charitable Society
Iraqi Al Amal Association
Kapan Women’s Resource Center
Kuforsoum Cooperative Association for Pomegranate Producers
Maison des Associations (Safi)
Lebanon American University
Qawafil Al Khair for Relief and Development
Sevan Youth Club
Social, Humanitarian, Economical Intervention for Local Development (SHEILD)
Sudanese Red Crescent Society
Taron Youth Development NGO Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation – Goris
Women’s Support Center – Yerevan
A community of partners and 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
Aurora Humanitarian Initiative
Center for Disaster Philanthropy
Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation
Elsa & Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation
Linda K. Jacobs
Mrs. Nina Bogosian Quigley and Mr. Matthew Quigley
|Up to $499