Ghandour's influence is important in part because many of his initiatives are in Jordan. This Arab nation is a critical U.S. partner in the Middle East, a tiny country of 8 million that has absorbed more than 700,000 Syrian refugees and is now stepping up its military campaign against Islamic State.
Through Ruwwad, Ghandour helps disadvantaged communities overcome marginalization. Ruwwad offers programs like jobs training and civic engagement sessions and helps its communities obtain resources like, in East Amman, a police station and health clinic. It also provides scholarships to youth, many of whom come from families displaced by the region's violence.
In 2013, Ghandhour started working with the United National Development Program to fund microbusinesses to help the country respond to the Syrian refugee crisis.
The pilot program has funded 142 businesses, which are expected to create 500 to 600 jobs, from diaper makers to dry cleaners with investments up to $9,000. The program uses a cutting-edge approach called microequity that requires businesses to pay investors only if they succeed.
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For a world-class entrepreneur from one of the toughest regions of the world, Ghandour is surprisingly not an intimidating man. Six feet tall, the 55-year-old smiles broadly, laughs often—"laughter is always good," he said—and has the nervous habit of squeezing a rubber ball during conversations.
In an interview in Amman, he talked with CNBC about what drives him as a leader.