Mind The Gap- Women & The Future of Work

Where is the future of work for women headed? Read my article for Huffington Post on how women can maximise their chances in the work place and there’s so much more to it than the gender pay gap. Read full article on Huffington Post, here.


We’d love to know what you think and where the solutions lie. Tweet @inspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini


The world is wonderful because of the kind people who care and tackle the greatest threats facing us. They are people with compassion and who get out there and do it. As passionate social entrepreneurs, at InspirEngage, we are always on the look-out for inspirational stories, particularly from young people who are making a difference. This is Alex’s story. Apart from the vast social impact she and all her supporters have had, it’s also a moving tale that shows you can start small (and be just 4 years old) and yet, begin a powerful movement about a cause that means a lot to you….

Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation is an amazing organisation that was started by an inspiring little girl at the young age of 4.

Before Alex turned 1 years old, she was diagnosed with a form of childhood cancer. The doctors informed her parents even if she beats it, it would be doubtful that she would ever walk. By her second birthday she was crawling and able to stand with leg braces. By a shocking discovery the cancer started coming back soon after that.

During her treatment on her 4th birthday she told her mum “when I get out of the hospital I want to have a lemonade stand.” She said she wanted to give the money to doctors to allow them to “help other kids, like they helped me.” True to her word she held a lemonade stand later that year with the help of her brother and raised $2000. Alex and her family continued to hold yearly lemonade stands in her front yard to benefit childhood cancer research.

News spread of the remarkable sick child dedicated to helping other sick children. People from all over the world, moved by her story, held their own lemonade stands and donated the proceeds to Alex and her cause.

Alex passed away in 2004 at the age of 8 knowing that, with the help of others, she had raised more than $1 million to help find a cure for the disease that took her life. Her family continues to keep her legacy alive today and thriving through this amazing foundation.

Interested to support this wonderful cause? Check out http://www.alexslemonade.org (@alexslemonade on Instagram)

When people ask us what we do, we say ‘help people to do well by doing good’. Over the past couple of years, we’ve been working with Boston College through our ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’ programme, starting with hosting their first ever social enterprise conference, to delivering several social enterprise Bootcamps and facilitating their social enterprise market day- all with the objective of increasing the number of social enterprises in the community. On 27 April 2016, we delivered a very special Bootcamp.

Back in February, a group of students and community members came together where we helped them develop their skills to and project development tools to take their social enterprise ideas to fruition. With pots of seed-funding up from grabs in partnership with Unltd, the Bootcamp had great outcome with several securing what they needed. At the end of the Bootcamp, I offered the group (mostly consisting of Plumbing students) the opportunity to do a ‘Train the Trainer’ with us in order to co-deliver the next Bootcamp. A few of them signed up.

Fast forward to 27 April, the 4 students spent the morning with Melody, learning the techniques of a trainer, breaking down the modules and practicing delivering it. We encouraged them to push through their comfort zone and to try to lead a session on their own. We rolled up our papers and ran for the afternoon Bootcamp!

The afternoon Bootcamp was for a group of A-level students. We walked in and I asked them why they were there (always important to gauge expectation). Comments like “to learn how to make a difference”, “do something new” and “to learn new skills” were offered. Perfect. We were off! Although the atmosphere was laden with anxiety over the imminent end of year exams, the students pushed through. Their chosen theme for their group social enterprise was chosen by themselves; The social inclusion of the elderly and intergeneration with young people.

Our ‘train the trainer’ Milika delivered the first segment and was professional and enthusiastic and on it went, each doing a great job and pushing through the nerves they felt. This was as much about them, as the Bootcamp participants we were training.

We looked at the community and different aspects of it as relating to their project, we helped them break the project down through an interactive module called PROMA© as well as set them an unexpected creativity social enterprise task! Here’s the interesting thing. Usually, people get participants to pitch to a panel of experts (we’ve sat on our fair share of those!), but I wanted them to pitch to a panel of their peers (the train the trainer students). This had a powerful effect and interesting dynamic on both sides.

The A-level students walked in with a desire to create change and knew their theme- but had no idea of what project they wanted to run or how to do it. Despite it being just a half a day Bootcamp, it’s important to us to support them to feel like they can go to the next stage (wherever they started from). We’re pleased that the A-level students were able to walk out with a solid concept, a name for it and a plan as to what they were going to do next. We won’t ruin the surprise, but it’s an absolutely brilliant idea and we look forward to keeping you updated on what happens next!

As for the Train the Trainer students – one of the participants who put himself forward, at his Bootcamp was extremely shy to say his own name, and yet stood up to co-deliver with us! At the end he said; “I don’t feel shy anymore”


For all enquiries about Bootcamps and social enterprise programmes, email: info@inspirEngage.com. Tweet us @inspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini









Today is InspirEngage Intrenational’s 7th birthday. I found myself reflecting on the journey thus far and why we do what we do. I often tell this story as something which puts the work of @inspirengage into perspective for me… it’s about a boy called Ashley…

A few years ago, I was doing a piece of work for Barclays bank on improving financial systems to help the homeless- in partnership with Centrepoint UK. I walk into the room & the young people are shouting, being disrespectful & rowdy. They were there mostly as they were getting a voucher. But very quickly, we had an understanding. I made it clear that I can’t possibly understand what they’re going through, but that this is an opportunity to create change. A change which would help future young people in their situation. I promised to do all I could personally to take it back to Barclays. All of a sudden when we cut the bs, they felt valued. They started putting their hands up to speak & began sharing their incredible stories. I listened & typed as quickly as I could whilst also trying to hold the tears back. They were stories you could barely imagine. These young people had witnessed scenes which a young person should not even see in films- never mind call their life.

There was this one boy- Ashley, who at the start was the most badly behaved. He admitted he goes to lengths he’s ashamed of for a piece of bread. This guy literally had nothing. Desperate. Had no one. His honesty showed his vulnerability and cry for help.

At the end of the session, Ashley came up to me. He said; “you know the community work you mentioned you do- how can I get involved to give back?” That moment changed everything for me. Here’s a guy who doesn’t have bread- has nothing but wants to GIVE BACK. (it still makes me emotional after all these years.)

I put him in touch with local @UKYP (who I was working with at the time) and he got involved in creating change by volunteering. Ashley will never know how much of an impact he made on me. It’s moments like that, which make us do what we do at @inspirEngage.

Thank you to everyone who inspires us- and who shares our mission as a social enterprise, to do well by doing good.


Melody Hossaini

Founder, InspirEngage International




The Transition - Essential for Businesses Who Wish to Survive.


In a world that is changing in every way – businesses and the way we work, must too. Here are some of the mindset shifts that are essential for organisational transformation and survival.

From Profit to Purpose: Businesses with a strong purpose at the heart of it will benefit far greater than those who simply exist to profit. This is evident in the rise of social enterprises who are now outperforming regular businesses. According to a survey, 38% of social enterprises surveyed saw an increase in their turnover in the last twelve months with 29% of SMEs surveyed by the Department for Business. More than half of social enterprises (56%) developed a new product or service, compared with 43% of SMEs. Two-thirds (63%) of social enterprises expect their turnover to increase in the next two to three years, almost double the number of SMEs (37%). Not only this, but new statistics from the World Economic Forum also show that millennials will only stay in their job and be fulfilled if they feel connected to the purpose of that company. And finally, another reason for a justified move to focus on purpose is, that is what your consumers want! More than ever, we’re voting with our money to buy something with a narrative and caring about where our products come from.

From Hierarchies to Networks: This is where we have probably seen the greatest successes being manifested in companies who can master the model of a shared network over hierarchies. This is seen in Uber, Airbnb and Alibaba who have become some of the most successful startups due to a shared network model.

From Controlling to Empowering: They say that successful people are successful because they work with the best people. How you motivate and build your team defines your level of outcome. Leaders who can empower their network and team succeed over those who control. But it doesn’t stop at the team, but also your position in the market and your customers. Empower them. This connects to the network structure above.

From Planning to Experimentation: There was a time when launching a new product or service took a lot of time, but due to technological advancements, everything we do takes less time and we’re able to experiment more. But not only this, social media allows us to get instant feedback, replacing old extended planning time with getting things out there and improving based on instant but strategic feedback- that way ensuring we’re building products and services based on actual needs rather than presumed needs. And finally, allowing experimentation and ‘failures’ to occur in business is something which is becoming more accepted.

From Privacy to Transparency: We were in Bahrain recently delivering our Business Masterclasses for SMEs, where we saw such a fear of sharing ideas due to risk of someone stealing them. This is a great barrier holding many back from fulfilling the potential of their ideas. We are moving away from a ‘private’ world in so many ways – this is of course evident most greatly in social media and how we ‘share’ so much of our lives, ourselves and our work instantly across so many platforms. We literally ‘share’ things we see and things we are thinking about. The culture is shifting and opening possibilities for people to hear or see something and want to connect relevant people to it- whether through a ‘@mention’ on social media or saying in person ‘Oh sounds great – you should speak to this person or that person’. If we continue to keep things to ourselves out of fear, the only thing we will be left with, will be untapped potential.


All of the above and more covered in our Business Masterclass aimed at SMEs and Corporates. The Business Masterclass is tailored to suit each company and includes thought-provoking insight, practical activities and actionable tools to maximise purpose, impact and outcome of teams. Email: info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries or melody@inspirEngage.com directly. Happy to chat!


@melody_hossaini / @inspirEngage.com

On BBC The Apprentice as the first social entrepreneur

Everyone likes their comfort zone! Course they do! It’s where we feel safe, unthreatened and confident! It’s also the place that doesn’t need us to push, to grow or prove anything to anyone. In other words- the place which stays the same. Here’s why staying in your comfort zone for too long, will make it the most uncomfortable place you’ve ever been.

People ask me how I began the work I do in the community and youth sector. When I was 13 years old, I went along to a meeting held in the Birmingham Town Hall about an idea to launch a UK Youth Parliament. That kickstarted my journey. I stayed involved, became one of the co-founding team members and made a big difference to my community on a national and international level. However, it wasn’t as easy as that on a personal level. I had recently moved to the UK – English was my third language, and whilst sitting in those early meetings with MPs in the Houses of Parliament and discussing frameworks, strategies and petitions (none of which I even knew the meaning of entirely), including presenting petitions to Tony Blair in his office at No10, I was so out of my comfort zone. The only thing which kept me returning to those boardrooms in London, was the sheer passion and acute awareness that what we were doing to benefit communities was far more important than my fear.

The other example of course is deciding to go on BBC’s The Apprentice in 2011 as the first ever social entrepreneur. Frightened to death – but there I was, putting myself forward to be Project Manager in week 1. That’s who I am. All in – wanting to grow, to face it head on and yes, sometimes you win, sometimes you get to week 10 out of 12! But I see life as chapters of experience- that have to be lived.

Those years of ‘discomfort’ taught me lessons, far more valuable than anything could have. I grew as a person. I pushed myself and learned to control and face situations which may not be my ideal scenarios – because trust me, regardless of how comfortable you try to keep yourself, those moments creep up in life.

Now here’s the thing. What happens if we never grow- what if we don’t even want to go outside of our comfort zone – we’re cool staying where we are. Well, life is kind of funny that way. It will evolve without you. Reminders here and there showing you what you could have been and could have achieved or experienced, but didn’t. Or, a glimpse into opportunities missed, or simply feeling fed up and unfulfilled after years of standing still. Believe me- that will feel the most uncomfortable place you’ve ever been.

So what can you do? Start with moments. Next time you feel a bit uncomfortable & nervous about something, could be someone asking you to go somewhere new perhaps- say yes. Try it. Reflect on what you learned. See, it wasn’t so bad! From there, go to bigger things. Maybe a career change- something you never thought you could do- try it out by volunteering for a couple of weekends (if appropriate), think about it and make a plan whatever it is!

Make a change! Grow. Don’t live the same year 80 times and call it life. Live it and make the most of the vast potential you hold.
Love to hear your thoughts- tweet/instagram me: @Melody_Hossaini

For all speaking enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com


Last week, as all the world leaders of the Commonwealth nations gathered in Malta- so did young people. InspirEngage International Young Ambassador, Pras Boolaky was one of them. Here’s the fascinating blog about what happened.

Delegates of the Commonwealth Youth Gathering- CHOGM Malta 2015

Hello everyone! This is Pras Boolaky- one of the InspirEngage Young Ambassadors. Last week, I was invited to attend the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Malta as a young delegate from the UK and on behalf of InspirEngage. It was InspirEngage’s second time at CHOGM, our Founder Melody has previously spoken and delivered a Bootcamp at CHOGM 2009 training young people to mobilise change in their respective communities.

HRH Queen of England speaking at CHOGM 2015

This forum brings together ministers, dignitaries, and this year, Her Royal Highness Queen Elizabeth II. It aims to tackle some of the biggest issues facing the Commonwealth today. The Commonwealth Youth Forum (CYF) ran just before the Heads of Government meeting and gave young people a platform to discuss issues relevant to them, feeding directly into the CHOGM agenda.

60% of the Commonwealth is made up of young people, and the 2015 Commonwealth theme was fittingly “A Young Commonwealth”. Young people of the Commonwealth make up 1.2 billion people, and as we heard from opening speeches from the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma, and Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat: This brings with it big opportunities as well as big challenges. So how do young people from 53 countries, with different levels of economic growth, political stability and social cohesion, deliver a united voice at CHOGM 2015?

Networks & Changemakers

Well the answer to that I found was building networks and meeting changemakers. I met inspirational people like Victor Ochen from Uganda, founder of the African Youth Initiative Network and Pakistani human rights activist Gulalai Ismail (she even has her own Wikipedia page!). I could name countless other brilliant minds I met, all fighting for causes they care deeply about, but this blog would probably never end if I did! However, what I realised was even though we’re from very different backgrounds, we share the same mission and values. At InspirEngage, Melody always encourages us with the motto #DoingWellByDoingGood and this statement couldn’t be more epitomised at CYF. Whether it’s disaster-risk reduction, access to quality education, or gender based violence, youth across the Commonwealth are more committed than ever before speak out and be involved in policy making.

Young people drawing up recommendations to leaders

Our role, our mission

It was refreshing to see the issues InspirEngage are passionate about high on CYF the agenda. Social enterprise, albeit not fully developed in some emerging market countries, is something young people realise is a tool to empower their generation and generations after them. There was a willingness shown by many who want to introduce social enterprise into formal and non-formal education, which backs our belief that social enterprise IS the business model of the future. Caribbean countries especially spoke about the need for skills based Bootcamps to create socially responsible citizens. It’s promising to see these young commonwealth leaders already building their future careers and lifestyles on this model.

InspirEngage Young Ambassador presenting policy recommendations on how to provide young people with sustainable employment

It was evident that women and girls’ issues were a few steps ahead, with the launch of the inaugural Womens Forum at CHOGM 2015. The Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) took place 6 months before CHOGM, and brought together young professionals and experts in a learning environment through workshops and training sessions.

With four streams running alongside each other, I sat in on discussions including “Re-examining Pathways to Sustainable Employment” and “Investing in Youth Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Growth”. I was honoured to take part in a debate with delegates from Australia and Guyana, chaired by the UK charity Elevation Networks. Here I pushed for more of the correct type of funding and mentorship for young people with business ideas, to create responsible business leaders, a theme InspirEngage promotes through social enterprise Bootcamps.

Lessons learned

The Commonwealth Youth Council (CYC) elections ran alongside the CYF, and for some (notably the candidates nominated) this was very exciting time. An opportunity to serve on a council for 2 years where you would be the voice of 1.2 billion youths, created an intense air of suspense leading up to the election announcement. I was happy to see an almost equal 50/50 gender split for elected members, and proud the Commonwealth had recognised the importance of having a special groups representative also. We wish all the elected members the best of luck with their term in office.

The biggest lessons learnt was from all the conversations, debates, ideas, and exchanges I had with my fellow youth peers. It’s easy for people to think the worst of young people, especially in the UK where the media has on occasion been quick to attack us as perpetrators of crime and unlawful activity. But on the rare occasion where your sat in a conference room in Malta, surrounded by 200 young activists, policy makers, and entrepreneurs, you realise just how bright the future of our Commonwealth is.

Pras Boolaky – InspirEngage Youth Ambassador

Tweet: @inspirEngage

They’re known as ‘soft skills’ but we call them ‘life skills’ – but either way, they are the skills at the heart of what can mark the difference between success and failure for young people- whether academically accomplished or not. Skills such as identity, team work, empathy, self-management and resilience form the individuals who go into our world of work seeking jobs and setting up their own businesses. Yet, most schools are extremely focused on academic achievement. And although this isn’t bad, we have to update our priorities to address the current challenges. At InspirEngage International, the Skills Bootcamps support young people to develop their essential life skills alongside academia, exactly for the reasons Dr Anthony Sheldon outlines below in this BBC article.

It is not good grades but a “grounding in soft skills” that gives people who went to independent schools their edge, a former public school head has argued. State schools have “much to learn” from the private sector, Dr Anthony Seldon, master of Wellington College until this year, told a conference on Friday. Their “remorseless drive… for exam success is no longer fit for purpose”, he said at Tatler’s Schools Live.
People need the skills to do things that computers cannot, he added.

Dr Anthony Seldon

Dr Seldon, the first speaker at the event, explained why he believes pupils need to learn teamwork, empathy and resilience to be ready for life beyond the classroom. In his speech at the conference, which is aimed at parents looking for information on independent schools, he said: “Independent schools are taking the lead nationally in preparing students for the jobs required for the 21st Century.”
Dr Seldon, now vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, quoted a recent Harvard University study which found employers need far more than the skills developed in exams. “They also need what is patronisingly called the ‘soft’ skills, i.e. those that cannot be replicated by computers, which are fast taking over not just manual but professional jobs also. “These are the skills of creativity, teamwork, empathy, grit, resilience and honesty.”

Dr Seldon said England’s education secretary, Nicky Morgan, is the first “fully to appreciate” schools can excel both in academic rigour and at teaching character. “The reason why alumni from independent schools are so dominant across society is not just because of the excellent exam results they receive, but precisely because of the grounding in the soft skills. “I am expressly not critical of state schools themselves. They are the victim of forces that compel them to focus on a narrow range of exam teaching and subjects at the cost of broader education in the arts, character, sports and the social and work skills that employers increasingly want in the 21st century. “Some state schools manage to do exams well and offer this breadth of education, but it is much, much harder for them than independent schools,” Dr Seldon concluded.

Read original BBC article here.

For all enquiries for InspirEngage Bootcamps, drop us a line on info@inspirEngage.com

Developing Life Skills for Young People-InspirEngage Bootcamp



Stats have shown that social enterprises are outperforming the mainstream business model (see full stats here). Watch this uncut interview with me at the National Social Enterprise Festival held at Greenwich University. Questions include what qualities young people need to go into social enterprise, what educational institutions can do to help and main lesson I have learned as a social entrepreneur.

Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini

You are your greatest asset & opportunity, just like you can also be your greatest limit. I always say that your circumstances don’t define you- your mindset does. In this blog, I wanted to share a little story with you on how to turn failure into your advantage.

I remember at GCSE maths mock exams, I got an E (maths was never my strength). For my report predictions my teacher predicted me a E/D for the final GCSE. I begged her not to write that in my permanent documented report and that I promise I’ll do better. She said there’s nothing she can do since I got an E. I refused to accept this.

I went home and spent months re-learning everything from that year- I even asked for the syllabus and went over everything myself. When the exams came (I had to take 2 or 3 exams for the intermediate level), I remember turning the page in the actual exam and being shocked as nothing made sense. I sat there for about 7 minutes (which is an eternity in exams!) just frozen to the spot.

Then I put my hand up, asked for a hair tie (the teacher gave me an elastic band) and I put my hair up, rolled the sleeves up on my school shirt & focused my mind with a persistence that I can do this. I scored one of the highest in my class in that exam. In fact, I got a GCSE B (the highest you can get on an intermediate paper) overall. That meant so much to me and it will always be a testament to the fact that your attitude to something can combat your lack of natural ability. It’s also worth mentioning that, had it not been for the ‘failure’ of getting an E in the mocks, I may not have worked as hard. You have to allow even your ‘failures’ to inspire you to do better, not be your reason to give up.

Mindset isn’t an abstract ‘magic’ that transforms your reality – no! But it’s the factor which determines your behaviour in a situation and what you do about it. And that’s what transforms your reality. It takes hard work but healthy attitude is what makes the difference. This is something which you can learn over time and train your mind to do.

That became the central aim of how I designed our InspirEngage Bootcamp and courses. Drop me a line on info@inspirEngage.com to be added to our list to be sent exclusive info on upcoming courses and opportunities.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini. Sending you all my warmest wishes.


As the social enterprise world grows, a lot of conversations are taking place on what really makes them unique and what is it that defines them. I touched on this recently at the Social Enterprise Festival- see this > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z3GVlWN-nj4

A new business contact of mine, Peter, sent me the following article from Stanford Social Innovation Review which I find extremely thought-provoking and insightful (although I must say, I don’t necessarily share the perspective fully, yet the article is poignant).

Doing Less, Better

Call me a natural skeptic. As the social enterprise movement has gained momentum over the past decade, launching new conferences and awards, I have found myself continually puzzling over what makes the enterprise approach different from traditional charities and nonprofits.

The typical definition of a social enterprise—an organization that combines revenue-generation with a social mission—fails to line up with the reality of how we use the term. Many organizations carrying that label lack any form of customer or client revenue.

At one end of the spectrum are businesses that use some portion of profits for charitable work, such as TOMS Shoes and Newman’s Own Foundation, which could just as easily be called corporate philanthropy. At the other end are mostly donation-funded organizations. For example, Shining Hope for Communities is a great organization working with girls in Nairobi’s undeveloped areas, but its business model is not so different from traditional charities.

In between, there are organizations such as Sanergy, a sanitation company also in Nairobi, that has leveraged grant funding and innovation prizes to subsidize the development of a revenue-generating model for urban toilet franchises. Adding to the diversity, there are also product companies focused on creating ethical value-chains, such as Divine Chocolate.

It’s clear that, despite the alleged importance of revenue-generation, the social enterprise movement contains a variety of financing models. And while definitions of social enterprise have used the broader, vaguer criteria of applying “commercial strategies” to social issues, this translation of management practices across sectors is an old practice.

Meanwhile, there is something new about the fervor attached to social enterprises. Something about them attracts attention and excitement in a way that other nonprofits, charities, and NGOs fail to do.

Focus, Focus, Focus

My conversations with professionals at various organizations have suggested a subtler and largely unrecognized difference: Today’s social enterprises have a relatively narrow focus.

Large NGOs work on multiple issues in dozens of countries. Plan International’s website, for example, shows that it works on eight broad issue areas—including education, emergencies, and child protection—and in about 50 countries. A former employer of mine, Mercy Corps, lists 12 similarly big issues and about 45 countries.

Balancing priorities across broad missions and locations leads to serious management challenges. How do you trade off between investing organizational resources in education or health projects, when they lack common metrics? Setting strategic direction becomes about competing values for the issues that matter most to the organization, which can turn analytical discussions into political ones. Too often, organizations resolve such questions based on the interests of donors, whether those are foundations, government agencies, or public appeals.

At the same time, new ideas struggle in large organizations. They frequently get caught in “innovation units”—silos that often lack the organizational footholds needed to influence broader practice. In this way, the innovation challenge facing large NGOs is not so different from the one facing corporate giants like GE or IBM.In contrast, most social enterprises do essentially one thing. Kiva, for example, connects lenders with borrowers via its field partners. Digital Divide Data provides business outsourcing that creates backend jobs for disadvantaged youth, military spouses, and veterans. These clear, straightforward missions guide strategic choices and management.

Another well-known example is One Acre Fund, which serves small-scale farmers in East Africa and views every decision through that lens. The primary service line is asset-based financing paired with agricultural training and market facilitation. Significant management attention goes to improving that service line. When the organization experiments with supplementary services like microinsurance or solar lamps, it evaluates each one based on whether it makes the farmer more prosperous. If not, then One Acre Fund cuts that service.

In short, for social enterprises, focus can be a competitive advantage when it comes to impact. Focus helps leadership drive better methods and operations. It creates incentives to innovate within a targeted scope. And when the business model requires external support, a focused goal leads to clearer appeals and more excitement from fans.

Keeping Perspective

Of course, a focus that’s too narrow also has drawbacks. For example, the buy-one-give-one models of TOMS and others have been rightly criticized for displacing local production, and ultimately making a greater impact on the company’s own marketing than on poverty. A narrow focus must be justified within a broader view. And we must keep in mind that larger, multi-sector organizations have a critical advantage in addressing complex problems at scale.

Ultimately, the social sector needs a combination of focus and diffusion to drive progress. Social enterprises play a special role by focusing energy and effort on a single problem. That role distinguishes them from other organizations far more than how they finance themselves. They can pioneer innovations that larger organizations absorb and scale, or they can grow into larger organizations themselves, bringing their improved management methods with them. They should just make sure they maintain focus along the way.

Original source here.


Commonwealth Secretariat

Climate change – one of the greatest threats facing our world. We’re not talking a slightly warmer Summer, we are talking a substantial shortage of resources, natural disasters triggered by causes of climate change and a threat to vulnerable species. This is an issue that’s been at the heart of

InspirEngage with the Young Experts

InspirEngage’s work which began in 2007 when Melody was invited to be trained by Al Gore on ‘The Inconvenient Truth’ which she adapted to suit young people. InspirEngage has since delivered programmes across the world training young people to develop the skills and projects to create change in their communities (we’ve even seen young people turn their projects with us into their current career), including working with British Council HQ on managing their climate youth programmes at the UN and COP talks.

On 10 June 2015, Melody Hossaini and the InspirEngage team were invited to the Commonwealth Secretariat in London, to present to young experts from across the Commonwealth nations. The topic: ‘How Social Enterprise Can Help Solve Climate Change’.

The evidence provided by Melody along with other expert speakers, was used to shape a recommendation by the young experts to be presented to COP UN talk in Paris 2015 and can be read here.

Watch a snapshot of Melody’s presentation at Commonwealth Secretariat:


For all enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com / tweet: @inspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

A few days ago, I posted the following video on my youtube channel, making my special announcement:


As said in the video, after working and helping communities across 100 countries and having spoken in over 50 countries, it’s always been a dream of mine to work with people in my own country. As you know, I was born in Tehran, but have never been back for business purposes. This August, I will be a keynote speaker at the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum being held in Teheran on 20th August 2015. I will be sharing my story and also outlining the importance of social enterprise in the new business world being created to over 500 participants. This will be followed by an InspirEngage Skills Bootcamp. Information on speaker profiles (and a very rare pic of me in Hijab) + conference info here > http://tehran2015.jwef.ir

Importantly, it will also be the first ever speech or training I have given in my own mother tongue! (my mum says I better get practising!)

Make sure to subscribe to the my youtube channel as there will be a video of the conference going up there (with behind the scenes!). As well as this, I have gathered some leading Iranian social media talents for a little hashtag campaign sharing my journey via #AroundTehranWithMelody (if you’re a social media influencer in Tehran, drop us an email to get involved info@inspirEngage.com).

For now I want to say thank you to everyone for your support and kindness, as always!

Kheyli mamnoun- ghadresho midounam, va dar Iran mibinametoun!



Yesterday, Unltd announced that the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills has today approved a bid to develop an apprenticeship for entrepreneurs, including a specific pathway for social entrepreneurs. Due to the significant number of young people who want to start a business, entrepreneurship has now been recognised as a viable career route, and therefore apprenticeships have been created that allow individuals to learn skills to go into business, whilst working. The exciting thing for organisations like InspirEngage, is that there are also particular pathways for social enterprise.

The new apprenticeship for entrepreneurs standard is backed by a ‘trailblazer’ group of around 50 employers, chaired by Alberto Masetti-Zannini from Impact Hub King’s Cross and is supported by UnLtd, the UK’s foundation for social entrepreneurs, along with the Federation of Small Businesses and the Centre for Entrepreneurs. Employers backing the bid include Deutsche Bank and a number of SMEs and social enterprises including Reason Digital, Talentino Careers, Super Being Labs and Simply Do StartUp.

Unltd share stats showing that half of people aged 18-30 want to start their own business. There’s also growing appetite among young people to make a positive impact on the world. Seven in ten (70%) prospective start-ups are influenced by social causes, while 27% would choose to form a social enterprise.

This is a great move and will finally support the individuals who have a passion for business but need support to develop skills before launching.

Infographic - Entreprentice

Speaking at the Apprenticeship Graduation, 18 June

Yesterday, I was invited to attend and speak at the Leicestershire Apprenticeship Graduation at De Montfort Hall. I’ve always liked the model of apprenticeships. Learn and earn whilst working- but yesterday, I found new passion for it! Seeing the impact on the graduates, and how it had provided a path to success for so many who the traditional model had failed – but also those who simply found this to be the winning model and do not fancy the debts of a degree at Uni.

The Graduates 18 June

When delivering my keynote (pictured above) to an audience of graduates, parents, businesses, city council members and Mayor (Peter Soulsby – who was such a gent and extremely passionate about the cause), I emphasised the point that we shouldn’t devise simply one way to success- it’s a conscious choice on what suits you and your goal. I heartily congratulate those who are courageous enough to choose theirs, like the graduates had done yesterday. I was also honoured to present ‘The Apprentice of The Year’ to Kaifer Williams from South Leicestershire College!

In the late afternoon, I was invited to speak at the Leicester LEP who hosted a conference for businesses interested in Apprenticeships and their providers. Great hearing from fellow speakers, including a beautifully passionate presentation by Marion Plant, Principal and Chief Executive of North Warwickshire & Hinckley College and South Leicestershire College. But how can we increase the numbers and offer this fantastic model to more individuals.

  • Firstly, there is a slight sense of irony. We bill apprenticeships as an ‘alternative’ route to traditional and rigid University degrees and qualifications, and yet, our focus is so qualification-centered on apprenticeships. Needless to say it’s an essential part of apprenticeships and another model to achieving qualifications, but we shouldn’t lose emphasis on apprenticeships being about ‘learning by doing’ and earning- which is what is the main attraction to a lot of ‘non-traditional educational’ young people.
  • Although apprenticeship learning offers such a wide exposure to skill areas and core qualification subjects, sometimes the missing link can be the simple foundation life skills. Skills like showing up and having eye-contact, shaking hands and introducing yourself and being able to interact and show initiative. These are the basics to not only the individual feeling more prepared and confident, but also it decreases the risk to businesses who take them on, in them being work-ready, therefore needing less training for the basics.

    Speaking to BBC News

    This is why at InspirEngage, we deliver the the Life Skills Bootcamps that equip young people with the basic skills, attitude and confidence which compliments the rest of their learning, but importantly, also, encourage those who may not have put themselves forward, to consider it.

  • The graduation was being held in Leicester, a city with a very high population of Indians. At InspirEngage International we have spoken to numerous young people from those communities who feel they might want to explore options like apprenticeships but feel they are unable to because their parents would not accept it, as an alternative to University and traditional routes. This can be addressed and we are beginning those conversations.

We want to thank Leicestershire Apprenticeship Hub and the LLEP for hosting this event and welcoming myself and InspirEngage to be a part of celebrating such an important journey for the graduates.

For all enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

Recent data from the 2015 Social Enterprise Survey shows a diverse sector exceeding expectations in both growth and impact.

Over half of social enterprises have seen an increase in their turnover in the last year; this is partly due to innovation. Around 59% of organisations have developed a new product or service in 2014, 39% have expanded into new geographic areas and 83% have attracted new customers or clients.

On diversity, the social enterprise sector largely outperforms other businesses, with 40% now women led compared to 18% of SME’s- also worth noting that 91% of social enterprise leadership teams have at least one woman in them, and 11% of leaders are from a minority ethnic background.

“Social enterprises are transforming the way business is done. What this data shows is that they are continuing to expand, to do good and to change the lives of individuals and communities. When it comes to female and minority ethnic leadership, they are miles ahead of the pack. Of course there are challenges, but from these initial findings the sector is clearly in a strong and healthy position.” Peter Holbrook CBE, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise UK

The sector has come a long way, and at InspirEngage International we are focusing on developing skills of young people, women and businesses to be successful with a social conscience. See more info about our programmes on InspirEngage and our youtube channel to get a real flavor of how we are helping new social enterprises to come to life.

Overview of stats from the 2015 Social Enterprise Survey
• 5% of all businesses are social enterprises
• 52% increased turnover last year
• 39% have expanded into new geographic areas
• 59% have developed new products & services
• 83% have attracted new customers or clients
• 40% of social enterprise leaders are female
• 11% of social enterprise leaders are from minority ethnic backgrounds

Watch some relevant videos below:


Immigrant Social Entrepreneur in England awarded ‘Europe’s Most Influential Woman’

Melody Hossaini, accepting her award in the European Parliament, Brussels. 4 June 2015

Melody Hossaini, who was a star on BBC’s The Apprentice in 2011, was awarded ‘New European Woman Influencer’ of 2015 inside the European Parliament on 4 June.

The first New European Awards is an awards ceremony organised by UNITEE – The New European Business Confederation under the high patronage of the European Parliament. Its aim is to recognise and celebrate the contributions of New Europeans- Europeans with a migrant background. In particular, this year’s awards honoured four special categories: New European entrepreneur; New European Politician; New European Woman Influencer; and New European of the Year.

Melody, who was originally born in Iran and raised in Sweden, moved to the UK at the age of 13 and volunteered in her community for 11 years to champion young people, before setting up the successful social enterprise, InspirEngage International, in 2009 with the aim of training people to be successful by giving back. Since then, Melody has helped educational institutions to better prepare their students for the world of business and work, trained vulnerable adult women to become economically active through social enterprise and guided corporates to better engage with communities through innovative CSR models. She was the first social entrepreneur to appear on ‘The Apprentice’ being described by Lord Sugar as a ‘woman of exceptional ability’.

‘This award really is an honour for me. The journey as an immigrant to being able to transform communities, is one that has become my life. I’m so inspired by the people we train, who work tirelessly with so little. They inspire me to do more.’ Melody said. ‘We’re passionate about helping people to explore social enterprise as a vehicle to create change.’

A member of the judging panel, Viviane Teitelbaum, President of the European Women Network, stated ‘Melody’s commitment in the youth sector and social entrepreneurship in the UK is exemplary of the values we support at the European Women’s Lobby. Her support to young people and vulnerable women to develop the essential skills in order to be successful by giving back to people and society meets our aims. Melody is a wonderful role model for women and an influencer we will certainly hear more about in the future!’

Amongst the other winners was Congo-born Vincent Kompany, captain of Manchester City, whose father was there to accept the award on his behalf.

Winners, MEPs, Judges & hosts at the Awards

In a time when Europe is struggling to compete on the economic stage, immigrants and minorities are often, in the public discourse, discriminated and seen as a danger or a drag on public finances. The New European Awards want to change this narrative: far from being a problem, diversity and immigration are changing Europe for the best, and contribute to keep it smart, innovative and open to the world. The Awards will finally give New Europeans and the diversity they bring about the acknowledgement they deserve.

The ceremony took place in the prestigious Yehudi Menuhin room in the European Parliament, to celebrate and honour those New European personalities, who, thanks to their multiple background, have achieved important successes in their professional lives. By acknowledging the winners’ talents not only will the value-added of diversity be shown, but they will serve as New European Ambassadors: role models for the present and future New Europeans. Showing that not only integration is possible, but that it is conducive to success in the broader society.

Melody’s Acceptance Speech inside the European Parliament


Contact Monica Rean at InspirEngage International for any press enquiries or media pieces : info@inspirEngage.com / +44 (0) 7963 522067

Watch Melody speaking at TEDx about ‘The Social Enterprise Revolution’ here.


Last week I received an email saying that I had been nominated for an award. I had no idea, and they had found me online. A few days later, i received an email saying that I had won the award and inviting me to accept it in the European Parliament. And what a day yesterday was! You think of awards, you think glitz and glamour, but all is not what it seems! :) Keep reading!

4 June 2015. Accepting the award, European Parliament

Yesterday, (4th June 2015), I was up early, made my way to London to deliver the InspirEngage Bootcamp for finalists of Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge, as we do every year. The students have a social enterprise concept and we help them bring it to life. This year it was held at the swanky new community spaces at KPMG, Canary Wharf. Delivered it, ran (with very awkward sandals) to the Eurostar, with my suitcase in tow.

InspirEngage Bootcamp for Mosaic students at KPMG

Got on the Eurostar, had a lovely chat with a gent I met called Rick, about the collision of the political and business world and the role of digital and social media in connecting the two- absolutely fascinating! Didn’t even realise the train, en route, was 30 minutes delayed! Got to Brussels and had planned to go to the hotel, get changed and drop off my suitcase before going to the awards, but had no time. Instead, I had to go to the public toilets which never pleasant as it is, in train stations) and get changed there! It was boiling hot weather, so inside the toilets, it was even warmer, and try pulling your tights on in a small space, sweating like a pig, trying to balance yourself on the little pieces of toilet paper you have laid out on the floor and pulling your dress on! I think I should have an award just for that! :) Quickly did my make up a little, attempted to do something with my hair with the lady using the basin next to me, suggesting I have it down- so I told her ‘Because you said so, that’s what I’ll do!’. So here I am, like a modern day superman (*woman), I go into the toilets with a Tshirt and leggings, and come out with dress, heels and sparkles! The odd glances I got as I was running through the train station (still sweating!), was awkward! But I had somewhere to be!

As good as it was going to get!

I finally get to the European Parliament- go up 10 steps (with my suitcase!) only to be told I’m at the wrong entrance… so I climb another 20 steps (much to the amusement of the guards!) and finally get to the right place! And after faffing again with my suitcase to even get through security (the European Parliament security is like an airport- you have to take your laptop out and all), I finally get in and my lovely hosts take me to my seat.

This award meant a lot to me. It recognised my journey starting as an immigrant and asylum seeker to giving back to my community. The other day when I shared that I had received it, I got so many email from you (mostly young girls) saying they were so happy for me. It made me realise that you’re on the journey with me. My victory is yours and likewise, when I see other women and girls doing well, it’s like I’ve won too. That’s what I am most thankful for.

The New European awards was the first of its kind and first year they have run it. To recognise the talents and contributions of those European Nationals who originated from outside Europe. Among the 3 other winners was Vincent Kompany (the Belgian captain and Manchester City player). It was a lovely evening, and I was very humbled by this incredible honour.

I will be uploading the video of my speech and acceptance of the award to my youtube channel (make sure to subscribe to ‘Melody Hossaini’). But in the meantime, I want to thank all of you, who enrich the mission. Our mission to support more people to be successful, happy by giving back.





Social Enterprise Presentation at Startup 2015, by Melody Hossaini

Is social enterprise our mainstream business model? Why are consumers more likely to buy from a social enterprise than any other business? What are the measures of success for social enterprises? All this and more in this latest video, sharing a snapshot of my presentation at Startup 2015 conference, hosted by Enterprise Nation at the beautiful Somerset House, London.

(For all enquiries or bookings, email info@inspirEngage.com)

Thank you to our friends at Onerion for making this video.