Updated: Apr 18
On Cosmic Centaurs’ one year anniversary in 2021, CEO & Founder Marilyn Zakhour and the team, most of whom are women, established the Cosmic Centaurs Fund. We set up the fund because we believe that a prosperous society is one where all individuals are given the opportunity to create value for their communities. To quote Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, “When women do better, economies do better.” And that’s exactly what we set out to enable.
The Cosmic Centaurs fund is powered by edSeed - a youth-focused venture philanthropy fund, established in 2015 as a non-profit organization investing in youth programs and startups, promoting education and innovation in disruptive technologies. Their goal is youth empowerment and employment, which is why they make the ideal partner for our fund.
Why did we start the Cosmic Centaurs Fund?
The challenges women in the Middle East face are widely documented, and these challenges hinder the social and economic development of communities and economies in these regions. According to PWC, $575 billion is lost every year by the MENA region due to legal and social barriers that exist to women’s access to jobs. In Lebanon, women’s unemployment rate was estimated to be at 26% in September 2020 - that’s 1 in every 4 women. As technology continues to reshape the workplace, offering more job opportunities and greater flexibility for women who work, digital inclusion is a critical catalyst for boosting female participation in professional and technical jobs within the region.
Marilyn, who is of Lebanese origin, has always been passionate about the cause. She set up the fund to help women of all nationalities living in Lebanon gain access to skills, learning opportunities, tools, resources, and support to (re)enter the workforce, with a focus on digital education and inclusion.
Who is the fund dedicated to?
“I set up this fund in honor of my mother Antoinette Tayar (pictured below), a software engineer, and one of the first people in her family to graduate from university. She was 1 of 6 women in a class of 400 and for most of my childhood, she held 2 full-time jobs, while climbing the corporate ladder, paying the bills, and raising two ambitious, hard-working kids,” said Marilyn.
Marilyn and her mother Antoinette
The Cosmic Centaurs Fund is dedicated to Antoinette, who set the same standards for both of her kids, regardless of gender, and continues to push them both to live out the values that she taught them. This fund captures Antoinette’s drive and the people who recognized her talent and opened doors for her throughout her life.
In the words of Marilyn and Antoinette, “We believe creating true inclusivity is not just about the driven women who strive to achieve remarkable things, but also about the communities and supporters that enable them to do so. We hope this fund can contribute to building that support network.”
Our impact: Where your contributions go
We’re very humbled to have raised $4320 for the Cosmic Centaurs Fund in our first year alone. We gave 5 young women in Lebanon the opportunity to further their learning in their respective fields as well as explore new areas and subjects to broaden their range and skillset.
Meet the beneficiaries
Here are the 5 beneficiaries we supported this year sharing how they felt about the Cosmic Centaurs Fund.
1. Myriam Mohiedene Abou Jabal
Myriam wants to become a psychologist, to make life easier for young adults and children. Your generosity allowed Myriam to further her knowledge in the field of psychology through UDEMY courses.
“Your continued support is deeply gratifying and your contributions made me feel like I could take on anything!” -Myriam
2. Karen Ahmad Waked
Karen dreams of helping victims of abuse and violence through psychotherapy. Thanks to your donations, Karen took UDEMY Psychology Courses and is one step closer to achieving her dream.
“I am deeply grateful for the support I received from Cosmic Centaurs. As T. Sorensen once said, ‘You will never experience personal growth if you fear taking chances.’” -Karen
3. Hiba Dahcheh
Hiba believes that knowledge in digital marketing is crucial in a growingly agile world of work, and aspires to gain the skills to explore new opportunities. Thanks to your contributions, Hiba recently received her Digital Marketing Certificate from ESA Business School!
“It was the first time I get the opportunity to learn about something outside of engineering (Hiba's major). This was very new to me. The terminology used in the course, the history, the concepts, were all new to me. I'm very happy to have had this opportunity to learn those key concepts in marketing. Thanks Cosmic Centaurs for this opportunity, I wouldn't have had it without you offering it. You pushed me there!" -Hiba
4. Mouamena Fateh Mallisho
Mouamena is the first woman in her family to attend university. She aspires to develop treatments for non-communicable & chronic diseases. With your contributions, we helped Mouamena take a full-stack coding course to further her knowledge of Bioinformatics.
“I am really so happy and grateful to Cosmic Centaurs for giving me this opportunity.” -Mouamena
5. Yaman Youssef Shiha
Yaman wants to spread awareness about diseases for a more informed and healthier society. She aspires to specialize in computational biology & bioinformatics. We distributed your funds to enroll Yaman in a data science course.
“Your support will help me change society.” -Yaman
In addition to distributing the funds, we hosted a webinar in the fall of 2021 all about personal branding and networking in partnership with United Lebanon Youth Project in support of their 'For the Livelihood Youth' program presented by The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund. In this webinar, our Senior Consultant Tala Odeh covered how to define your value add, differentiate yourself, grow your network, as well as how to create great personal brand statements to get seen, hired, and thrive in your career.
In the words of Marilyn, “We’re grateful to everyone who contributed to our fund and made our first year so impactful. Our hope is that in the next year, we can meet our ambitious fundraising targets and help even more remarkable women.”
Donate to the Cosmic Centaurs Fund here.
All contributions are tax-deductible.