May
13
2011

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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.

Esra’a Al Shafei was outraged by the injustices she witnessed against minorities in her region. She created MideastYouth.com as a platform for people in the Middle East and North Africa to openly discuss a wide range of taboos and underrepresented issues. The group’s latest venture? Tackling their most controversial issue yet with Ahwaa.org, a forum for talking about LGBTQ issues in the MENA region.

Sokunthea: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?

Esra'a: Miracles don’t just happen. Sometimes you have to work five years, and then you create something that is finally a success.

If no one else believes in your idea, just find a way to make it work. I spent two years trying to make Mideast Youth work, because no one would give me support or help. I even had a hard time assembling bloggers who were interested in writing for us because few believed in the idea of highlighting and celebrating diversity. It was only after 2008 that we really saw success. We’ve been working every single day since 2006. Make it work: give it your all and keep building.

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