Who we are

NewSilkRoads Foundation is your guide to new talent and opportunities along the Silk Road.

We support international NGOs, cultural organisations and social enterprises expand their networks abroad and connect to the right grants and people.

What we do

1. We run the Afkar Fellowship programme

♦ A unique fellowship program for catalyzers of social change in North Africa that seeks to boost fellows’ social impact and visibility as influencers in the region. Watch the video.

♦ We believe that social change begins with unconventional leaders who build movements, challenge norms, and cultivate safe spaces for alternative thought. Find more information on the Afkar website.

♦ Afkar Fellows is a collaborative initiative of Wasabi, NewSilkRoads, What Took You So Long and Waag Society, powered by the Creative Force initiative of the Swedish Institute.

2. We support the fundraising activities of non-profits and social enterprises:

♦ Mapping and scouting of new funding opportunities.

♦ Programme development, author of funding applications. € 10 million brought in during the last two years.

3. We assist investors, companies and NGOs in finding the right match abroad:

♦ Matchmaking activities. For example the Investor Matchmaking Sessions 2016 Tunis/Cairo, introducing a group of international investors to a selection of 40 entrepreneurs in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria.

♦ International crowdsourcing. For example ExpeditionBavaria, a creativity competition to design and execute a campaign for Bavaria’s new drink in Egypt. See video.

♦ Organising international conferences and events. Mobilising the right partners and people using creative event concepts.

The Team

  • Helga Delaere


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    Helga Delaere, currently based in Hamburg, has a Bachelor’s degree in Cultural Anthropology and a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Amsterdam. She co-founded NewSilkRoads in 2009. As the director of NewSilkRoads and during previous jobs, Helga has been International Project Manager in a series of projects with multinationals and civil society organisations in both Europe and the MENA region. Examples are: Project Manager of the first Mediterranean Coworking Summit in Tunis in 2015, Coordinating the creative introduction of a new Dutch drink in Egypt via crowdsourcing, developing the creative skills of youth in the MENA region with the use of online courses on TasmeemME, or matching social investors with enterprises within the creative industry in the MENA region in cooperation with Hivos Impact Investment and the Mideast Creatives Fund.

  • Evert Faber van der Meulen

    Chief fundraiser

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    Evert Faber van der Meulen holds an Mphil in Islamic Studies from Oxford University and an MA in European Union Studies from Leiden University. He has lived and worked in both Cairo and Damascus. Evert has been strategic consultant to several organisations involved in the creative industries and beyond. He has extensive experience as lead author for institutional funding applications, for example the Hivos Mideast Creatives program (twice successful in 2014 and 2015). Furthermore, he is the author of a number of analyses and mapping reports on the creative sector in the MENA region and Europe, and of several academic papers. His fields of expertise include fundraising, creatives industries, EU – Middle Eastern relations, and Islamic law.


  • Boudewijn Niels

    Board Member

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    Boudewijn Niels holds an LLM in Tax Law and an LLM in Corporate Law from Leiden University and studies Economics and Finance at the University of London. Boudewijn Niels is a sollictor with an international law firm and advises on tax and legal aspects of cross border mergers & acquisitions, joint ventures, restructurings and financing transactions. His fields of expertise include (international) tax law, commercial contracts and corporate and tax structuring of inbound and outbound (private equity) investments.

  • Arthur Steiner

    Chairman of the board

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    Arthur Steiner studied Art history and started various successful companies in the Netherlands. In the wake of the merchants of old, Arthur Steiner traveled the Silk Road. He became inspired to focus his entrepreneurial energy on the wider Middle East. He lived and worked in Iran, Syria and Egypt. Besides being the co-founder of NewSilkRoads, Arthur is the founder and manager of the Mideast Creatives programme. The programme supports the setting up of new coworking spaces for youth in the MENA, organizes training programmes and provides access to finance. His areas of expertise include business models within the cultural and creative sector, cultural entrepreneurship and innovation in the Middle East and North Africa.


  • Monique Doppert

    Scouting & Risk Management

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    Monique Doppert worked at the international development agency Hivos with a head office based in The Hague (The Netherlands).  She was responsible for the Hivos media and arts & culture programme in the Middle East. Therefore she has profound experience with the procedures of grant making; partner management and monitoring and evaluation. She extended her knowledge on M&E for media with a course at the Central European University in Budapest.

    At Hivos she coordinated the yearly extensive publication on internet governance in developing countries: GISwatch (Global Information Society Watch). Also she was part of the team that initiated and organized several Mideast Creatives events in Beirut, Tunis, Cairo and Amman.

    Monique started as a journalist at Folia Civitatis, the weekly for the University of Amsterdam. She has written a number of books, among others ‘Internetpioniers’ and the longread ‘Bassel: Behind the Screens of the Syrian Resistance’. This year she founded The Prospector, connecting people and organisations in the Middle East in the domain of creative industries (www.theprospector.net).


  • Lotte van Elp

    Creative Storytelling

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    Lotte van Elp holds a Master of Science degree in Conflict Studies and is currently based in Amsterdam. She is specialized in participatory research methods & creative storytelling. She also graduated in Peace Journalism (MA).
    Lotte has extensive work experience in Afghanistan, where she researched & developed Conflict Transformation programmes with local civil society organisations. She worked as a journalist in South Sudan for international media outlets and designed Peace Journalism courses for South Sudanese radio journalists.
    After long-term field postings, Lotte was assigned as the corporate journalist for Cordaid, one of the largest Dutch NGOs. She coordinated campaigns and the production of numerous multimedia stories from field offices and local partner organisations.

    Lotte founded Big Peace Thinkers in 2015, an organization to promote intellectual heritage of thinkers from conflict countries. The first project was about the Sufi poet Rumi and spoken word poetry for Afghan youth.
    Most recently, Lotte has been involved in Open.co, a start-up to support hub-makers around the world.

  • Simon Lobach

    Fundraising & Programme development

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    Simon Lobach holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva, and has worked for UNEP’s Green Economy Initiative for several years. In this role, he supported the governments of African and Caribbean countries in the development of green economy programmes. As a consultant, he has worked for organisations such as UNESCO, UNCTAD and USAID. He authored research papers on climate change adaptation and green economy policies in Latin America and the Caribbean. Having lived and worked in a variety countries, he is fully fluent in six languages and has ample experience translating technical documents in the fields of humanitarian and environmental affairs.


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