Using Green Building Techniques to Provide Affordable Housing and Community Centers in Egypt

Client: Hand Over

Firms: Shalakany Law Firm (Egypt)

Sector: Environment and Community Development

Legal Area: Contracts, Finance and Banking

Radwa Rostom, founder and CEO of Hand Over.
Photo courtesy of Hand Over.

Hand Over is an award-winning social enterprise that utilizes sustainable construction methods to promote community development in Egypt. Hand Over tackles climate change by using local earthen materials as building components while striving to empower underprivileged communities through environmentally-friendly techniques. Hand Over also empowers and trains architecture and civil engineering students and connects them with their local communities so they can work jointly on the design and implementation of new buildings.

At the same time, Hand Over collaborates with local NGOs and private-sector companies to facilitate the process. Adapting the “Human Centered Design” approach in all the stages of its projects allows Hand Over to meet its goal of putting the needs of the people it serves front and center in order to design new solutions that are tailor made to suit their needs.

Inspired by the sustainable building techniques she learned in various positions, Radwa Rostom founded Hand Over in 2016 and was soon selected as an Echoing Green Fellow. After she graduated with a degree in civil engineering from Ain Shams University, Radwa gained valuable experience in several positions ranging from project engineer in an environmental consulting firm to a corporate social responsibility specialist in a solar energy company. In these roles, she explored several fields such as energy efficiency, energy management systems, and green building.

In late 2016, Radwa reached out to the Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation through her contacts at Echoing Green seeking assistance for contract reviews with various partner organizations in Egypt. She later sought the Foundation’s assistance in navigating Egyptian banking regulations to be able to receive grant money from a U.S. entity. In both cases, the Foundation was able to connect Radwa with Lex Mundi’s member firm for Egypt, the Shalakany Law Office, in order to secure critical pro bono legal support for Hand Over’s innovative mission.

“Social entrepreneurs usually face several challenges when they launch their startups and when they start to operate—challenges that are not relevant to their backgrounds and technical skills so I was grateful to have the support of one of the top law firms in Egypt,” Radwa said of her work with Shalakany Law Firm. “I faced some difficulties in transferring my grant that I received form Echoing Green due to my lack of knowledge about the laws and banking procedures of transferring foreign grants. Shalakany Law firm were very supportive during the whole process, they were familiar with my situation and their advice was directly on point. The Lex Mundi Pro Bono Foundation team followed up closely until they knew that the case was resolved.”