Resilient Urban Communities

Social Enterprises and Nonprofits as Service Providers and Vehicles for Participation in African Megacities

At the heart of RUC, lies the set-up and consolidation of long-term German-African and inner- African cooperation. Sustainability is guaranteed through international, trans- and interdisciplinary educational programs. This translates into the establishment of a German-African student exchange program, and the promotion of transdisciplinary and inter-sectoral exchange between academia and local professionals and stakeholders in the field of public and nonprofit administration, corporate social responsibility, civic engagement and philanthropy in Africa.

Globe with focus on AFrica with the project title "Resilient Urban Communitites"

Therefore, two phases of field research will be conducted at Johannesburg, aiming at empirical data concerning the work and work environment of social enterprises and non-profit-organizations in vulnerable urban communities. Throughout the project several instances of long-term cooperation (yearly PhD seminars, a training program for current and future social entrepreneurs and civic leaders, a German-African study exchange program) will be established and continued after the project is completed. RUC intends to build on the existing networks and infrastructure of the professional international and African associations involved in the project, to deepen and escalate exchange and mutual benefits between them.



Researchers, involved in the RUC project have published several articles in volume 37 (issue 2) of the Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen.
These are available open access under the following link:

Forschungsjournal Soziale Bewegungen (

In addition to the editorial, the special issue on Civil Society Engagement in Africa contains several articles related to the RUC project. Some of the articles incorporate research findings from the project. We encourage you to read the articles and hope you enjoy them!


Partners of the RUC-Project attended the 15th International NPO Colloquium which took place in Frankfurt on April 4th and 5th , 2024. Organized by the Institute for Future Issues in Health and Social Economy (IZGS) of the Protestant University of Applied Sciences Darmstadt (EHD), the Association Management Institute (VMI) of the University of Fribourg, the Institutes for Public and Nonprofit Management (PNP), and for Management Accounting (IMA) of the Johannes Kepler University Linz (JKU). The Colloquium dealt with a variety of topics revolving around non-profit organizations and brought together scientists, as well as practitioners and pracademics from all over the world.

The third and final conference of the RUC project took place from March, 4th to 8th at the Wits Business School. Hosted by CAPSI, the meeting provided opportunities for lively discussions and networking.

RUC Panel

The first day was reserved for the discussion of the state of the project and current research in Soweto, South Africa´s largest township. Participants of the PhD-seminar joined the group in the afternoon for an inspiring trip to two local social enterprises. The first one –a holding of more than 55 co-ops, engaged in gardening and animal farming, is managed by two women, highly engaged in their community. The SE is also a public-private endeavor, since the city of Johannesburg owns the farmland, has provided seed-money to start the enterprise and continues to support the organization. The second organization – Bookibhoni  – is located in Soweto’s most famous street, which used to be home to two noble prize laureates – Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela. The organization runs a cycling business, offering bike-tours throughout Soweto. Whoever donates a book to Bookibhoni gets a price reduction for booked services. The books are given to local libraries opening access to books and the joy of reading for local kids . The entrepreneur’s dream is to spread the word and establish free access to books throughout the country. The first day of the meeting was rounded up with a dinner at a well-known restaurant in Soweto serving exclusively traditional African food. For sure: It was original, tasty and a little bit heavy.

This time, the RUC PhD-meeting attracted a group of twelve highly engaged students from a variety of African countries, amongst those Zimbabwe, Namibia, Ghana, South Africa, Lesotho, Nigeria, and Kenya. Some participants had already taken part in RUC´s first or second PhD meeting in Nairobi, Kenya and Cairo, Egypt. At least two of them, will finish their dissertation this year. Unanimously, participants stressed that the RUC PhD seminars had massively supported their research. With help of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), the consortium was able to invite two experts for a workshop on academic writing and publishing. Prof. Susan Appe and Prof. Chris Pallas gave an inspiring talk with many insights into the art and techniques of academia. CAPSI’s brand-new research project on youth employment in Africa served as prime example of current research in the field of nonprofits and social enterprises in Africa.  Funded by the MasterCard Foundation, researchers from 17 African countries analyze how nonprofits and social enterprises tackle the issue of youth unemployment. We wish CAPSI good luck for the years to come. A third workshop, provided by Prof. Alan Fowler, addressed career development. Prof. Fowler is a gifted researcher and teacher. He perceives himself as a pracademic, combining knowledge from academia with “real world” experience. The PhD seminar has been a huge success. Participants felt deeply sorry for the RUC seminar series coming to an end. However, CAPSI plans to pick up the concept for future PhD seminars.

RUC Presentation – Publishing Your First Articles

The final two days were devoted to the public conference of the RUC project. More than 75 participants Johannesburg took the opportunity to gain information on social enterprises and resilient urban communities.

Prof. Maurice Radebe, Head of the Business School at Wits, started the conference. Thereafter, Saliem Fakir, Executive Director of the African Climate Foundation, gave a key-note speech on the challenges African countries face due to global climate change. The following two panels focused on the key-topics of the conference: social enterprises and social entrepreneurship. Social entrepreneurs from South Africa talked about their experiences and the risks they encountered, trying to turn new and innovative ideas into reality. Highly appreciated by the audience was the panel sharing findings of the RUC project. The panel began with a video speech from Svenja Schulze, the German Federal Minister for Economic Co-operation and Development. A panel addressing specific needs of women in times of change rounded up the first day of the conference. How to make things happen by joining forces was the central topic of the second conference day. Frank Aswani, Chief Executive Officer of the African Venture Philanthropy Alliance spoke on the mission and vision of his organization and how it brings funders and philanthropists from all Africa together. A field trip to a social enterprise engaged in youth work in a township outside Johannesburg closed the second conference day.

Herewith, the RUC team from the University of Münster would like to thank all African partners for their support, advice, and the great work atmosphere throughout the project. Special thanks for organizing the final conference and the exiting field trips in Johannesburg goes out to the CAPSI team members – Melody Mandevere, Tsele Moloi, and particularly to the head of CAPSI Prof. Bhekinkosi Moyo.

Field trip on day one

RUC Consortium at AUC
RUC Consortium at AUC

The multi-stakeholder event also featuring representatives of international institutions, Egyptian civil servants and diplomatic missions to Egypt was attended by academics and PhD students from European and African universities with background in the social sciences and architecture. One of the keynote lecturers, Dr. Youssef Nassef (Climate Adaptation Director with UNFCCC) mentioned the detrimental effect of “nonsensical publishing”, denialism and “escapist” tendencies (aka climate adaptation) that hamper efforts to tackle the climate crisis. About a dozen PhD students whose theses focus on various aspects of resilience exhibited by urban communities presented their research projects. These projects referred to issues like the circle economy, urban planning, measures to mitigate urban floods and urban fires, the quality of indoor air for academic performance, the water energy food nexus, but also domestic violence, digitalisation of philanthropy, students’ self-organisation, etc.

Conference participants had the unique opportunity to visit two Egyptian non-profits supporting slums’ residents in Cairo: the Association for the Protection of the Environment “APE” (est. 1984), an Egyptian NGO working in the waste collector’s community to promote recycling and the empowerment of women and children, and Tawasol Egypt (est. 2008), an NGO registered with the Ministry of Social Solidarity to serve the low-income communities in three of Cairo’s informal slum areas. Special thanks to the hosts and specifically Prof. Dr. Ali Awni (AUC) for organising these memorable visits and making possible for us to witness results of these social enterprises’ efforts to empower vulnerable and marginalised urban communities.

The program can be found here:

Program Conference Cairo Oct 12.23

RUC PhD Seminar Participants at AUC
RUC PhD Seminar Participants at AUC

American University Cairo, AUC Avenue, New Cairo 11835, Egypt.

October 10th – 11th 2023, 1.5 days.

The RUC PhD/ECR Seminar at the American University Cairo is part of a series of PhD seminars, workshops, and conferences within the African-German project “Resilient Urban Communities” funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education. RUC is a collaborative African-German project that addresses the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals “sustainable cities and communities” and “quality education” through research and dissemination of knowledge related to the subject areas “good governance” and “local government”. Encompassing a research, networking and education component, RUC aims to improve urban supply systems and infrastructure for vulnerable groups in deprived local communities and enhance the governance of African megacities. The research program of RUC focuses on social enterprises (SEs) and nonprofit organizations (NPOs) as subsidiary social service providers and vehicles for participation and integration that contribute to the resilience of urban communities. RUC meetings and adjunct PhD-seminars are stepping-stones for the development of a network of current and future experts (scholars and practitioners) on social economy, good governance, and philanthropy in Africa.

PhD Seminar Call:
The PhD/ECR seminar aims to improve the research and careers of current PhD candidates and early career researchers (post-docs) by giving them the opportunity to discuss their work in a supportive environment. Participants receive feedback from peers and leading senior researchers as well as advice on career strategies and an opportunity to network with the international RUC community. The call 2023 is open to all enrolled doctoral candidates and ECRs doing research in social entrepreneurship, non-profit studies, urban studies, development economics, philanthropy, or related fields.
The key themes for seminar include discussions on types of research approaches and designs, managing the relationships with supervisors /receiving feedback and the
publication of high-quality academic articles. The central attraction to this seminar are the small group sessions: each student is allotted time to discuss her/his work and obtain feedback from peers and faculty.  The seminar also includes opening   and   closing   plenary   sessions and   at   least one professional development session with presentations by leading scholars in the field. Additionally, the PhD seminar shall feature the 3-minute Thesis Competition.
RUC shall provide limited financial support to attend the seminar.

PhD Seminar Applications:
Each application for the PhD seminar must include:
•    A research paper not exceeding one 750 words that refers to the stage of your thesis.
•    A personal motivation statement of about 400 words explaining what you hope to get from the seminar.
•    An official document confirming your status as a doctoral candidate or a post-doc researcher at your University or similar institution.

Eligibility criteria for PhD applicants:

•    Applicants must be researchers (Ph.D. candidates or postdoc scholars) with at most five years Ph.D. qualification.
•    Applicants are expected to conduct research connected to the fields of non-profit studies, social entrepreneurship, urban studies, development economics, or civil society studies as well as to the local context of Africa.
•    Applicants should be able to participate in the entire Ph.D. seminar to be held in Cairo, Egypt.
•    Applicants should be prepared to present and discuss their work with peers and faculty, and to actively participate in group discussions.

•    Submission of Abstracts Deadline: July the 1st 2023
•    Acceptance of the Abstracts Deadline: August the 1st 2023

Conference and Seminar Inquiries/Submissions:

Download: Call for Papers

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