Keywords: United Arab Emirates, vocational education, employment, person-centred support


PRIDE [People Receiving Independence & Dignity through Education]

The Manzil Center is an NGO working in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. It has developed a person-centred model called PRIDE, offering individualised support to young people in school, through vocational training and into work. Since it began in 2005, the number of people supported has grown to 360. Income is generated through fees, which are subsidised by fundraising income and it is looking to replicate in the coming years.

About the practice at a glance
Name of OrganisationManzil Center
Type of organisationNGO
of Implementation
United Arab Emirates
Year started2005
Funding modelPartially funded by student fees, subsidised for those who cannot cover the entire program cost. Additional income from sponsorship from partner organizations and individuals, and a paid consultancy offer.


PRIDE has a proven social impact, with Social Return on Investment [SROI] for 2016 calculated at 1:6.35 surpassing the UAE average of 1:3.3 and International average 1:4.7. Manzil has signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Ministry of Education and Chamber of Commerce in relation to its employment programmes. Manzil with its PRIDE program is the first in the region to be Pearson Assured accredited and receive the Disability Confident Leader certification from the UK Government. PRIDE has partnered with the largest bank in the UAE to implement their corporate social responsibility initiative of inclusive education and employment for persons with disabilities, which makes it the first of its kind in the UAE.


We asked projects to outline their impact model (also called Theory of Change) – their main target groups, the key activities they offer these target groups, and what impact they want to achieve:

Target GroupActivityImpact
Special Education centers– Job market-oriented vocational training consultation
– PwD candidate employment journey consultation
– Employer, PwD employment journey consultation
– Enhanced skills development for PwD
– Increase in employment of PwD
– Improved employer/PwD candidate/Special Education Centers relationship
EmployersConsultation and services to establish and efficient inclusive work environment– Increase the level of awareness and quality of inclusive workplace environment
– Dignified sustainable empowerment of PwD free of charity and aid


Replication is a new topic for the Manzil Center. The curriculum has been documented and certified, and the program can be customized, replicated and implemented locally and internationally. 


Current plans for the Manzil Center are to expand awareness of PRIDE amongst different stakeholders in the education and employment sector and replicate the practice in and outside the UAE. They also want to strengthen alternative income generation streams to sustain PRIDE. The organisation strategy envisions a paradigm shift from a charity venture to social entrepreneurship business model. The founder of the Manzil Center, Dr. Ayesha Saeed Husaini, would be the lead for the project and her LinkedIn profile can be viewed at 


The Zero Project Impact Transfer programme offers Manzil the opportunity to operate beyond its limits and support countries where inclusion is still in its infancy. The two components of PRIDE to be replicated are skills development and inclusion in the workplace. Manzil is planning to offer consultancy services to Special Education centers in jobcentric vocational training and pre/post-employment support services. The engagement of UAE employers in the employment programme has had resounding success and Manzil is inspired to transfer the initiative to other countries. The training, mentoring and networking support offered through the Impact Transfer programme, and the link to the wider Zero Project and alumni communities would be valuable for Manzil as it works to cross international borders. The networking would help Manzil discover alternative means of income generation ensuring sustainability of its projects and thus, moving from a philanthropic organisation to a value creating self-sustained social enterprise model.