BAMYAN MEDIA BRINGS TOGETHER ENTERTAINMENT & EDUCATION DESIGNED TO TARGET CRITICAL SOCIAL ISSUES
We produce documentaries, comedies, and reality TV that tackle complex social challenges such as youth employment, food-systems, health, and female empowerment.
Bamyan Media brings together the best in content creation and impact design. Our shows have been watched by over a dozen million viewers across the MENA Region, and connected thousands of audience members to empowering resources through our digital platforms. Our goal is to create riveting and compelling content that can spark a movement, engaging millions of people to improve their lives and communities. And in the process, to transform the entertainment business into a force for good.
WE USE THE POWER OF GREAT STORYTELLING TO
ENABLE OUR GENERATION TO BUILD A FUTURE OF RADICAL POSSIBILITY
WHAT WE DO
Television and digital content have taken the world by storm: TV shows are broadcasting to billions of people, reaching remote areas in many different languages, all day and night. Unfortunately, most of them are not designed to make a significant difference in people’s lives.
At Bamyan Media, we asked why not? Why not leverage the power and scale of this dramatic medium to change people’s lives for the better? This quest has developed into an innovative business model and process for creating content that effectively galvanizes a multi-stakeholder response to complex issues such as wide-scale youth unemployment, local-food movements, underage marriage, and maternal health.
One of the best-known tales of that incomparably wise character of Afghan folklore, Mulla Nasruddin, concerns his life as a smuggler. For years, the Mulla was known for his habit of crossing the Afghan border with nothing but a straw-laden donkey. Asked by customs officers whether he had anything to declare, the answer was always the same: "nothing but straw." A search always followed; but no matter how hard the officials prodded and probed the donkey's load, no contraband was ever found.
Years later, the now-retired chief of customs happens to meet the Mulla in a teahouse. "All those years ago," he tells Nasruddin, "we knew you were up to something, but we never found anything. Since we are both old men now, can you tell me what it was you were smuggling?"
"Donkeys!" comes the answer.
To make good content, both a recognizable form and a message or meaning are required. The straw is the form; the thing that is most obvious. The donkey is the meaning, and the real object of the smuggler's efforts. Both must be led across the border - that is, into the field of perception of the viewer. What happens next depends on the viewer and their circumstances, and what he or she is able to do with the smuggled goods.
WHEN WE ARE ASKED WHAT WE DO, WE SAY "CONTENT CREATION."
BUT WHAT WE'RE REALLY THINKING IS:
OUR PROGRAMS SHOWCASE THE DRAMA OF PEOPLE LIVING THROUGH REAL CHALLENGES DISCOVERING SOLUTIONS TO THE MOST CRITICAL ISSUES OF OUR TIME
A documentary about the burgeoning local food movement in Jordan featuring Chef José Andrés.
Middle Feast explores the people, places and youth-culture at the heart of a slow-food tradition on the brink of revival.
The Project: A Reality TV Competition for Entrepreneurs
A new season of The Project in development for a satellite TV Network reaching an audience of 100 million+ across the Arab world. 13x1hr episodes. Season 1 aired in Egypt to 4 million viewers and linked 40,000 viewers to valuable tools and resources.
HAPPILY EVER AFTER?
A new docudrama series currently in development.
Happily Ever After? is a docudrama series that chronicles the lives of young girls engaged to be married. The show explores the controversial questions at the heart of the age-old practice of young marriage, where viewers are left to consider for themselves how to best make empowering decisions, and marry when girls are physically and emotionally ready to become wives and mothers so that they can truly live happily ever after. Currently in development.
Talk show anchored by a panel of young girls
Girl Talk is a multimedia platform centered around the lives of a dynamic group of young girls with strong characters who inspire their viewers to live their best life..At the center is the Girl Talk Variety TV Talk Show which is led by young, charismatic hosts who will cover a variety of exciting issues ranging from inspiring stories to scandalous taboos, celebrity entertainment, beauty, health, relationships and empowerment. Currently in development for a major pan-Arab channel.
The Project - El Mashroua was broadcast in Egypt in 2014 on the third largest country Network, El Nahar. It built up an audience of 4-6 million viewers per episode and over 1 million followers on social media, creating the largest online community of aspiring entrepreneurs in the Middle East. It achieved higher ratings than the international hit Dancing with the Stars,and was sponsored by Samsung, Google, and Volkswagen.
A staggering 55% of youth are unemployed in Egypt, and the rate for young women is almost double that of young men. El Mashroua was designed to change attitudes to women working and address demand-side barriers faced by existing programs aimed at stimulating more inclusive economic growth.
MORE THAN JUST TV
The Project uses prime-time television to build a critical mass of online followers, connecting aspiring entrepreneurs to each other and to practical tools and resources via social media, mobile engagement and grassroots outreach. During its first season in Egypt, we partnered with over 40 organizations in the ecosystem and connected 36,000 new applicants to programs offering training, mentoring, finance, and other support and services they need to succeed.
The ILO, France's ENSAE and MIT University’s JPAL are collaborating to conduct a long-term Randomized Control Trial on the impact of El Mashroua in Egypt on attitudes, knowledge and skills, and changes in behavior. Initial findings suggest that “The TV show had a significant impact on viewers’ opinions [...] of women in the labor market. In particular, viewers tend to declare women more competent to run a business.” This shift in attitudes of viewers that watched at least one episode of the show conservatively translates into changing 1 million mindsets. Other findings will be published shortly. Download the ILO's report:
SCALING THE PROJECT
Our goal now is to scale the impact of The Project across the Arab world by broadcasting the show on a major pan-Arab satellite channel in the region targeting women and youth, to reach over 77% of households from Morocco to Iraq. We have also partnered with Banijay International, the world’s third largest TV producer, to adapt and distribute The Project with an emphasis on social entrepreneurship for European audiences under the working title Game-Changers, and Start-Up in France.
We are a hybrid social enterprise, registered in the US as a 501c3 Corporation. We are currently based in Cairo but we go where the work takes us.
Marwa is co-founder of Bamyan Media and brings more than ten years of experience as a leader and manager of regional and country-level development programs. As COO Marwa oversees finance, business development, recruiting, international distribution and impact measurement and reporting. Her vision is to create a pioneering world-class social enterprise that demonstrates how mainstream media can deliver positive behavior change. Marwa has a BA degree from GWU and a Masters from Tufts University in Nutrition Science and Policy.
Anna Elliot is the co-founder and CEO of Bamyan Media. Anna has been living and working as a producer and creator of educational and entertaining content in the Middle East for over 12 years. She currently oversees all creative development for Bamyan Media. Anna is an Echoing Green and Rainer Arnhold Fellow. She graduated from Hampshire College with a self-designed major in media management and international development.
Head of Production
Tamer has over 12 years of experience working in film and television in Egypt and the Middle East. He is passionate about creating media that will have a social impact. For the United Nations Tamer created campaigns dealing with human rights, gender equality and child abuse. His work has been screened at numerous international film festivals and featured on TV channels including Al-Jazeera, Al Nahar, BBC, and MBC.
Research and Impact
Sarah is in charge of supporting the research, impact development, and monitoring and evaluation of our programming. Prior to joining Bamyan, she worked at the Grassroots Development Laboratory in Bagar, India, and served as the Global Diaspora Assistant for Ashoka Arab World in Cairo. She holds a BA in Political Science and Consumer Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania.
Dalia is responsible for developing Bamyan's relationships with the key players in the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Dalia has long been interested in education prior to joining Bamyan, she was the President of AIESEC Egypt in 2008. Dalia holds a Masters in Education from Harvard University where she conducted research on the ways in which television can be used to promote social entrepreneurship.
An experienced development expert and social entrepreneur, David has led teams working for USAID, the World Bank and the UN on issues such as economic growth, social enterprise and sustainable development. As an entrepreneur David founded business ventures in Europe and the United States, including USAssist and Direct Hit, a successful search engine that was acquired by Ask.com
Gabrielle is responsible for developing adaptations of our formats for different markets. Working closely with ecosystem partners, Gabrielle is leading the development of Start-Up for distribution in France and across Europe.
Gabriel is responsible for developing our social media engagement. Previously, Gabriel worked for Ashoka Arab World as the Media & Marketing Manager, and also conducted research on sustainable job creation models in Bogotá, Colombia. Gabriel holds a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Michigan and is also the founder and curator of a social entrepreneurship news blog, SocEntHolla.
Olga is a talented Scandinavian graphic designer who is constantly improving the quality of our communications materials and graphics.