UAE’s Women Entrepreneurs Witness the Positive Effect of Social Entrepreneurship in India


The second edition of the Badiri Social Entrepreneurship Programme (BSEP), recently saw its 17 selected participants – all UAE-based women in pursuit of establishing socially impactful and innovative businesses, taking a field trip to India, from April 1–5, 2019. India was the chosen destination, as the country’s culture of social entrepreneurship has created a positive change there.

BSEP was launched last year by Sharjah-based NAMA Women Advancement Establishment (NAMA)’s education and capacity-building arm, Badiri Education and Development Academy, and the UK-based School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE).This collaboration with Badiri is SSE’s first experience, expanding its reach into the Arab region.

The 17 shortlisted women for this intensive 10-month course based on action- learning were selected after a series of interviews and careful screening. They were inducted into the programme in early March, where they were introduced to theprogramme’s objectives and expected learning outcomes, received group training on the social entrepreneurship concept, and networked with other participants, learning about each other’s business.

What did they do in India?

One of BSEP’s overarching objectives is to give participants first-hand experiences of social entrepreneurship in different countries.

In India, the participants met successful social entrepreneurs, visited social enterprises and learned from the experts of SSE India.

The educational trip to India featured a visit to the ‘Sheroes’ café in the city of Agra, which is run by acid attack survivors. Participants saw how this social enterprise supported women's rights for this popular cafe and community hub, and met the inspiring women who lead this project and benefit from it. 

Their second visit was to one of India’s most popular social enterprises, Delhi-based Goonj, where the 17 women interacted with founder, Anshu Gupta, Social Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship’s Entrepreneur of the Year 2012, who recounted the riveting story behind his enterprise, which uses under-utilized and excess urban household material as a tool for rural development across 23 states in the country.

Experts from SSE introduced the BSEP 2019 participants to the Business Model Canvas and walked them through the process of preparing their individual project briefs. During these sessions the women also reflected on the creation of their vision and mission statements, and were exposed to simple tools used to effectively set their priorities and targets.

An expert session by celebrated Indian social entrepreneur, Sunil Ganesh, titled ‘Finding Your Why’, prompted the budding social entrepreneurs to better identify their purpose and helped them uncover their unique voice – an exercise whose objective was to build their confidence in their business ideas and get them used to presenting themselves as social entrepreneurs.

Shalabh Mittal, CEO, SSE India, who addressed the UAE delegation at an expert session titled, ‘Overview of Social Entrepreneurship & Ecosystem in India’, said: “I feel privileged to be in the presence of 17 aspiring women who want to make a difference in the world, by using their ability to be effective leaders and their determination to be taken seriously. Taking charge of things, they are a host of inspirational women with different journeys, experiences, challenges and advices. This potential and drive that the participants have exhibited has been contagious. I extend my heartfelt thanks and best wishes to them. School for Social Entrepreneurs India is a proud partner of this programme and congratulates NAMA for putting together this powerful cohort.”

What is BSEP?

The programme aims to empower Emirati and UAE-based female entrepreneurs above the age of 20, through knowledge-exchange and expert sessions that will equip them with the skills and knowledge needed to turn their business into profitable social enterprises.

The programme’s customised curriculum features hands-on training and expertise, organising field visits to two countries where participants meet with the owners of successful social enterprises in the UK and India through local SSE fellows and representatives. It also includes webinars and exercises to complement the educational field trips.

BSEP is designed with a strong focus on action learning, which is a structured learning tool used by small groups whose participants come together to address their complex issues by meeting regularly and working collectively.

“Looking at the great impact BSEP’s inaugural edition had on sharpening the business acumen of 17 UAE-based female entrepreneurs and aligning their commercial interests with their passion for creating social change, we were geared towards launching the programme’s second edition to turn the aspirations of more socially-minded entrepreneurs in the country into reality”, said Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment.

She further said, “I am certain that our participants have got off to a stimulating start with this field trip to India, and will go back to the UAE with learnings that will be helpful in shaping their businesses’ value propositions and expectations”.

Looking forward…

For the next eight months and until December 2019, BSEP’s 2019 class will be dividing their time between the UAE and the UK (London and Liverpool), to learn about pitch development, structuring their organisational systems, operations and finance, internal change processes for creating desired performance, facilitation and team leadership skills, that will help them build a successful social enterprise in the UAE.

Meet the 17 participants and their enterprises

Abeer Mohammed, is keen on introducing mindful living to university students; Afra Al Falasi, founder “Fekra” project, which is a youth institute focused on developing their creative media skills.

Ayesha Khan, owner of “food ATM”, which is a food dispensing machine, where people can have a hot meal. Bashaer Yateem, the brains behind “B Unique”, a business which will offer employment opportunities and financial independence to specially-abled people through an online gifts shop; Carla Bygrave and Theresa Tsui, founders of “SKILLS3” – a creative enterprise that designs and delivers skills transfer programmes in home-based crafts.

The list of participants also features Eman Al Suwaidi, who offers, women empowerment events, leadership and training at “EMS” (Excellent Motivation Services); Hind Alateeqi, who came up with the idea of “E-materials” to enable people to rent and share heavy or expensive equipment like washing machines or computer printers; Khadija Al Jabri, will use disruption and innovation at “Play Maker” to drive advocacy and change in society; and Latifa Al Mulla, wants to start an academic centre for adolescents (13 – 18 years) to equip them with the guidance they need to forge successful futures.

Also part of the second edition of BSEP are, Muna Al Nahdi, who plans to start The “EduVation Project”, an affordable learning platform; Naeema Alameeri, who wants to push culture and heritage-related festivals through “Oyoon Al Maha”; Nawal Al Saadi, champions daily wear for women at the “Thob Fashion Boutique”.

Ruqya Khan, owner of life coaching enterprise, “Just SMILE”, Sapna Sharon of “REISHAS”, a designer label with the focus on sustainability, empowering and uplifting the artisans by bringing their skills into their collections; “Ayadi By Widad”, by Widad Abdelhadi, which is a socially-minded business that “stands for disability inclusion”; and Zahra Allowatia, with her creative project “The Chance Cafe” that aims to provide students and small businesses with a platform to connect, communicate, and share experiences and visions

Nawal Al Saadi, owner of “Thob Fashion Boutique”, said “The journey to India has been very enriching with several things that I now treasure as I return to the UAE. Every advice and feedback received, will help me build on my ideas and restructure my thoughts. I am looking forward to the UK visit as well, where we hope to equally benefit”.

Ruqya Khan, owner of life coaching enterprise, “Just SMILE”, said, “It was an amazing journey learning and understanding the skills to become a social entrepreneur. When I came here, there were a lot of questions in terms of what I would like to do and how I would like to take this forward, but all the sessions with SSE India, have left an indelible impression in my mind, helping me dig deep into the ‘why’ behind my enterprise”.

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