‘Do well by doing good’ that’s the InspirEngage message. It’s such a pleasure when we can work with young people to train them to do exactly that. This year marked the 4 year of our involvement and partnership with Mosaic and the National Enterprise Challenge. Once again, we brought all the finalists of the challenge together and delivered a tailored InspirEngage Social Enterprise Bootcamp – helping the 13-15 year-olds to develop their aspirations of future careers, deepen their life skills as well as learn how they can take their social enterprise ideas to the next level.

A quote from a teacher at the Bootcamp

Here’s the summary from the Mosaic article (see original source here)

Some of the finalists from May’s Grand Final of Mosaic’s Enterprise Challenge recently took part in an Enterprise Bootcamp run by businesswoman and trainer Melody Hossaini of InspirEngage.

Throughout the day, Melody built on the impressive skills that the young people had already demonstrated in the Enterprise Challenge competition and led workshops for them designed to hone and extend their business acumen and further raise their confidence. The feedback from the pupils at the end of the busy was very positive. Nathan Gage from Rivers Academy in Hounslow said: “I enjoyed today very much and I learnt a lot of valuable skills about communication in business.”

Kajal Parekh from Dixons Kings Academy in Yorkshire, said: “This was hugely beneficial for me, not just in terms of business but I’ve also learnt a lot of skills that will helpful in everyday life.”

Hamzah Khan, Head of Year 9 at Dixons Kings Academy, said: “Today’s Enterprise Bootcamp has been fantastic. Melody engaged the students in a really fun and interactive way whilst also helping them to understand some important business concepts and develop the skills needed to be a successful social entrepreneur. The students have had a great day and I’m sure it will give them the confidence and know-how to be able to achieve great things in business in the future.”

Jack, a student from Rivers Academy added: “Today has really helped in terms of bring able to use new skills in daily life. We have leant how to understand how people can notice how you feel based on how you act through body language.”

Abusafian from Dixons Kings added: “Today has helped with our confidence and has taught us what to do and what not to do when presenting. I have enjoyed looking at feedback and learning about evaluations.”

Mosaic’s West Midlands Regional Manager, Becky Mitchell said: “The Bootcamp was a really inspiring and interesting day where the students gain many skills that will not only aid them in the future careers but day to day lives as well. The students went on a journey throughout the day which was fascinating to watch and you could clearly see, in the space of a few hours, the confidence and learning that they had gained. An excellent day and thoroughly recommended! Thank you!”


Further statements on how students and teachers found the Bootcamp:

“It’s been very interesting and very useful. In our lives we will be able to use what we have learnt, as well as in business.” Zulkarnain, Dixons Kings.

“Today had been a very interesting experience. We have leant new skills and will be able to develop our future careers. Introducing us to proma development will really help us in our futures.” Abdurrahim, Dixons Kings

“The InspirEngage Bootcamp was wonderful experience and opportunity for the students. A fun and exciting day that encouraged, not pushed, them out of their comfort zones with brilliant results.” – Winchester Wilmot, Business Teacher at Rivers Academy West London.

“I think that the InspirEngage workshop was very beneficial for me as I have learnt skills that I can use n everyday life as well business skills. For example communication and meeting new people and working with them.” – Kajal Parekh, Dixons Kings

“The InspirEngage  workshop was a great experience and I learnt lots of useful skills that will help me in the future” Ruqayyah, 15, Dixons Kings

“It was very ‘inspiring’ and ‘Engaging’, but there was nothing fishy but the sandwiches.” – Nathan Patel, Dixons Kings Academy

“I learned loads of communication skills that will help me in life” Jack Shircore, 14, Rivers Academy

‘I enjoyed today very much as I learnt valuable skills about communication and roles in a business’ Nathan Gage, Rivers Academy

“I have a had a great and positive experience, met new people and learnt more about business” Darren Clarke, Rivers Academy


There’s absolutely no hinderance for women to succeed, if they work hard and kick ass! Or is there…? I’m a 37 week-pregnant entrepreneur running InspirEngage International and for the first time, I am feeling the difference in men and women as I prepare to juggle motherhood and a busy career. Here’s my latest pregnancy blog.

On 7th January, we found out I was 2-3 weeks pregnant and it’s been a beautiful blur since, made up of baby nurseries, travel systems (yes that’s what a pram, car seat and whole thing is called!) and baby Ralph Lauren all-in-ones! I’m now 37 weeks pregnant with a little boy and due to give birth anytime in the next 3 weeks.

I’m also the Founder and CEO of social enterprise InspirEngage International- an organisation focused on developing skills of young people and vulnerable women in order for them to be successful by giving back. Have been working in this sector since the age of 13, taken InspirEngage into 100 countries in the world and supported thousands into work that also supports the community. It’s an important part of my life- not just a job. One could say InspirEngage is my baby.

So what happens when a real baby is about to enter the picture? Well, needless to say, the answer is different depending on the circumstances and choices of that particular parent and the needs of that particular baby. But that’s the key word- choices. You have to, as a female career-driven mother, make choices. The age old question of- ‘can women have it all’, I’ve always felt is, yes! However, with that, comes a level of sacrifice.

My pregnancy has been a pleasure and pretty hassle-free (not counting the unbearable itching in this last growth spurt!). This has meant that I’ve been able to balance pregnancy and work very well. Going into the office, travelling -even out of the country delivering a tour of InspirEngage programmes for students and teachers in Jordan, and managing a team have been doable. But that’s just the beginning- have been asking myself, what happens, when the baby arrives?

Well, firstly, I see this is a beautiful journey and feel extremely blessed- I can’t wait to see what’s in store! However, reality remains that there will probably be a lot to juggle. How long do you take off to dedicate to the baby? How long should you breastfeed and be available to the baby? Is it ok to want to get back to work? All questions women may ask themselves at this stage.

I tweeted about this earlier and @Michelle_BID responded: “that’s just the start of it, then nursery costs / juggling career and then school holidays all to come”. Yep that’s true- and it’s all a pleasure and what life is about, I am looking forward to it all- but it has impact. An impact which I think men feel a lot less- career wise. For the first time, I am really feeling the difference between men and women in business.

Having said that, women don’t have to let having babies be the end of their career- that’s not what I am saying at all and every mother is different! However, you do have to give birth, you may have to take time out and do things differently for a little while at least.

During my time of working and training incredible women as part of ‘Startup and Stilettos’, I have also seen inspirational stories of numerous women who reassessed what they wanted to do following having children and changed their career for the better- perhaps due to the added motivation gained by having their baby – many female entrepreneurs are born this way, in fact! They naturally find a way to balance their growing priorities better.

Startup and Stilettos ladies and I. 27 weeks pregnant

So what’s the role of men in this – I read the above to my husband and this is what he had to say: “The role of men is to be the pillar and rock. I’m already used to you being independent and career-driven, balanced with marriage, and this is just another step. The role of a man (or my role, at least) is to create a stable platform for you to pursue your ambitions.”

I’m just at the beginning of this journey- so much yet to experience and learn once the baby arrives and no idea what the answers to the above questions are, but know that it’s never been a better time to be a female entrepreneur, I know that it’s important to have a strong support network, I know that it’s vital to have a strong mindset. I look forward to the challenges and pleasures ahead!

Tweet me your thoughts- how did you find it? @Melody_Hossaini


Aug 142014

Did you (or someone you know) open that special envelope today to get your A-level results? Was it what you expected or disappointed with your results? I cried my eyes out when I opened mine- didn’t go to plan, and here’s my story and what I did next.

At A-levels I took German, French, English Lit and Psychology. I wanted to study Law at University and my first choice was University of Birmingham which, I think, was 4th or 5th in the country for law at the time. I needed AAB to get in.

Having grown up in Sweden (came to England when I was 13) and English being my 3rd language, meant that I always had to work harder than everyone else academically in order to achieve. I worked hard for the A-levels and thought I’d done well.

I remember the morning of the results so well! I woke up really early despite the results not being out til 10.30am at our school. I made my mum go with me early and I was literally the first one there! As I opened my envelope, I was full of hope, but that soon came crashing down as I read my results. I got BBCC…. at that moment, I felt like my world fell apart. I burst into tears and kept staring at the paper hoping that the letters would change.

So what do you do if the results aren’t what you were hoping for? There’s no right or wrong answer in a way- depends who you are, how badly you wanted ‘the plan’ and what you want to do. I immediately phoned Uni of Birmingham and told them of my grades and they confirmed that they had filled their places with AAA students and some AAB- so there was no chance I would be accepted (another spurt of tears!).

My second option was Oxford Brookes University- which, at the time, was 7th in the country for Law. I really didn’t want to move away and am the kind of person who focuses in on a goal so I hadn’t even entertained the thought of going to my second choice. I had to make the decision of whether I wanted to go through clearing or go to my second choice. I chose Oxford Brookes Univerity.

The day I had to go see the city of Oxford and the uni was my first time there altogether! I cried the whole day (I’m not a big crier by the way, but my education and University plans were so set in stone in my mind and it was a shock).

September came and I moved to Oxford to begin my course. Thinking back now, Uni years were some of the best years in my life. I absolutely loved living in Oxford, loved the Uni and the course. The Uni supported one of my projects for the community and funded £4,000 for me to get it off the ground (for which, I later won an award from the Home Office). I also did really well in my degree achieving a high 2:1.

Not only that, but it was at Oxford Brookes that I met my husband. I was in the canteen having lunch with a friend, when my friend recognised one of his friends. She was sat with my (now) husband and they introduced us!

Whether you got the grades you wanted or not- this is just the beginning. I tweeted earlier saying young people have more opportunities than ever for creative career paths- whether it’s Uni, business, social enterprise or employment and apprenticeships. Stay focused, apply yourself to whatever you choose to go with and don’t rush – make an informed decision that’s right for you.

I ask people why they do what they do and too many shrug their shoulders and can’t remember the reason. Don’t live your life on auto-pilot. “The bad news is time flies. The good news is you’re the pilot.” InspirEngage Bootcamps support young people to develop the skills and support to consider their passion and create viable career plans backed by the core skills- so we see time and time again the difference that mindset can make.

My warmest wishes to all those entering the next chapter of their lives. As always, tweet us your thoughts and questions on @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

For those going into the job market- see the below video for my top tips in an interview!


How do we create 1 billion jobs for young people?

Melody Hossaini answers at the Youth Job Creation Summit. In a nutshell: Through Social Enterprise!



Youth unemployment crisis

The youth unemployment crisis is an issue that has been ongoing for a while. Whilst it is easy to say the youth unemployment crisis needs to be solved, the question is does it need to be solved? Problems need to be solved however the youth unemployment crisis is NOT a problem. Despite the figures, stats, and constant negative perception about this issue, there are lots of opportunities to be taken here. If the youth crisis is looked at with a positive view, this perception will have a domino effect that will be passed through to the younger generations.

If one was to suggest the Youth crisis was in fact a problem, one could say a huge solution is required. The economy and the business world required change anyway, regardless of the youth unemployment crisis. It was heading towards destruction and needed to be directed onto the right path. The youth unemployment crisis triggered change and change is what was needed to head back onto the right path. Radical changes can only come from huge problems as huge challenges. The business world can only get better so the youth unemployment crisis is NOT a problem and definitely should not be perceived as one.

How to create a billion jobs for young people- through social enterprise

To be very clear and practical, there are many ways this can be done. One clear way this can be done is through social enterprise. This idea has already been talked about in the past how if businesses are doing well and creating employment opportunities for the youth of today they can create jobs for themselves.  However a business that has the potential to improve communities is surely much better. InspirEngage is very passionate about this, a social enterprise themselves wanting to create further social enterprises and naturally social entrepreneurs.

3 driving factors that explain why the world is heading towards social enterprise

1)    The first factor that explains why social enterprises are becoming more popular is the world is moving away from competitive models into collaborative models. At one time, every business was competing with each other however increasingly there is a shift for people/groups/businesses to work together.  Women and young people are in tune with these collaborative models and that is why they are leading social enterprise. In the UK social enterprise is the number 1 job creator for young people. This is a great opportunity that has come out of the youth unemployment crisis. If it wasn’t for the young people seeking new exciting opportunities, social enterprise wouldn’t be on the boom it is currently on.

2) The second thing is the ‘Passion Phenomenon’ as it is described by InspireEngage. Previously, it is fair to say that people were generally embarrassed to say what they were passionate about. Now, everyone is talking proudly of what they are passionate about and additionally, how they can turn their passion into a career. If one’s passion is to help others, younger people or communities- this is social enterprise and when this kind of passion is turned into a career this is how social enterprise is trending.

3) When the chips are down, social enterprises are born! This is the final factor that explains why social enterprise is on the up; if everything was good in the business world previously, would the younger generations have been as keen and energetic to look for new opportunities? It takes a trigger like the ongoing youth unemployment crisis to arrive at exciting opportunities such as social enterprises. What’s on the other side is a better world. We were getting too greedy.

Solution-How to create the jobs?

To answer this question simply, EDUCATION. The idea of embedding social enterprise into the curriculum could create many, many jobs. It is embedded into the curriculum, not in the traditional way where it is taught in a lecture/seminar but across the curriculum in all subjects. Imagine 3 things, firstly young people developing life skills where it is encouraged within the curriculum. Confidence, interpersonal skills and teamwork are a few examples of the skills that young people should develop whilst at school. Previously, these kind of skills were not taught in schools and many establishments encourage younger generations to seek work experience, extra curricular activities to gain these skills. It was never in the curriculum before though.

Secondly, imagine a curriculum that allows you to develop a job whilst still at school/ college/uni and finally imagine if that job also benefits your community.

This would mean that not only are younger generations gaining an education that will allow them to pursue a career in there chosen field, they are also gaining the skills that will allow them to go out and get that career. This is what InspireEnagage have allowed with there brilliant, innovative programme called Social Enterprise Revolution. It has been launched nationally and no doubt will be a roaring success.

All that remains to be said is the revolution is happening, when are you going to join?






End of Year blog- goodbye 2013- hello 2014.

It’s noon on the final day of 2013. I find myself sitting at my desk and reflecting on the year gone by- the successes, the struggles and plans for 2014.

Vital stats:

Number of years working in the youth & skills sector: 16

Number of years being a CEO: 4.5

Number of years being a wife: 1

Number of children: 0

2013 was InspirEngage International’s 4th birthday -very busy and packed year indeed. Including launching our 3 flagship programmes Social Enterprise Revolution, Primary Revolution and Startup and Stilettos- The Future is Female.  All with a common thread of supporting individuals to be successful by giving back.  Lots of social enterprises have been born out of the programmes and we are so pleased that for the first time, hands-on social enterprise is now embedded into the curriculum.

InspirEngage and a consortium of partners have made history opening the first ever female-only vocational training institution in Saudi Arabia. Our work in the Middle east continued with participation at the G8 Summit (Deuville Partnership) on how to support Arab women to be more economically active.

The first 2 years of InspirEngage were working outside of the UK solely (Middle East and East Asia), then in 2011 after returning to the UK as youth unemployment was rising and after appearing on BBC’s The Apprentice in 2011, things really started changing. Not for the better or worse- just changing. As if something was really bubbling- both in the sector and for InspirEngage.

On one hand, I saw real social issues that needed addressing, on the other, the need for job creation. Very early on in 2011, I spoke about Social Enterprise being the business model for the future and although InspirEngage had already been about skills for social action and positive change, we focused heavily on social enterprise.

This year we’ve featured on several high-profile stages including TEDx in Kuala Lumpur, Education Festival with Michael Gove, International Youth Job Creation Summit at BIS and Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Malaysia.

Our journey is enriched by the people we work with- young people who range from extremely accomplished to those who go from thinking they don’t have a chance to carving new and exciting careers for themselves or educators who we support to find innovative ways to engage young people and businesses who want to be more socially enterprising and do business differently.

As a social enterprise we have a double bottom line- and in assessing our social impact I think back over the outcomes. Startup and Stilettos works with vulnerable women in a 2 month intense programme training them to launch their own social enterprise. The ladies vary from learning disabilities, ex-offenders, victims of domestic-violence and those who simply want to do more. One lady called Susannah who after 10 minutes intro put her hand up and said she felt it wasn’t for her to completing the programme and just 2 months later, her product of spices, secured a licence to trade, secured 2 sales stalls and was nominated for an enterprise award! With her profits, she’s helping unwanted children in Nigeria.

The growth of a business doesn’t come without a price though- and have tweeted saying that starting a business isn’t difficult (it’s exhilarating!) but scaling-up a business is much harder. It’s not easy- and this year, I have had to make some tough decisions, been frustrated at times but also acknowledging that it’s part of a healthy process of growth.

The other price to pay is the sacrifice you make in time invested into the business over the family. Of course it’s not one or the other, but sacrifice is necessary, and as a newly married wife, I’m learning the art of juggling responsibilities!

Every year I have a thought that re-defines my thinking. This year, I read this: Imagine if the person you become, meets the person you could have been.

One of the most powerful thoughts for me, motivating me to be the best version of myself so that when the day comes and I meet the person I could have been and the person I become isn’t too far off. That’s my personal mission and 2014 will see us taking steps towards that.

In 2014, InspirEngage has big plans for growth in team, new office premises and expansion of ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’ in supporting more schools, colleges and Universities to embed social enterprise in a practical way into their curriculum.

Happy new year from all of us at InspirEngage International.

Melody Hossaini- Founder & CEO, InspirEngage International.

31st December 2013

@Melody_Hossaini / @InspirEngage


Topic of interest covered in this piece: Women development, Middle East, North Africa, G8. UK Government Department for International Development. Finance, law and (social) enterprise in the Middle East.

G8 Deauville Partnership Summit for Arab Women – Overview Blog. 25/26 June 2013

Opening panel of the Summit 2013

In response to growing development of the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) and the importance in supporting women in this, the UK Department for International Development invited influential women from all over the MENA region and the UK to discuss the way forward.

Participants included business women, MENA Chamber of Commerce representatives, World Bank, Government Ministers, royal family members and more. The objective: to develop a powerful network and to draw out an action plan for progress in supporting more women in the MENA region to participate in the economy.

My mind is bursting at the seams with information, ideas and energy! Here are some of the key themes that emerged out of the 2 days.

  • With HRH Princess Sumaya of Jordan

    Laws/policies that remove blockage

  • Technology
  • Women’s progress

1) Changing laws/policies is important but not enough.

Cherie Blair, first speaker of the day stated; “Women still come across blocks- so how do we overcome obstacles: Sometimes it’s changing the law. Then there are informal barriers- most often harder to remove.”

4 million women in Egypt do not have an ID which is a barrier to growth, finance and support. Another example from Jordan was that they changed policy on supporting maternity for women- they established a fund that covers women’s maternity payments so that more companies aren’t put off with employing women. Ghada Waly, MD of Social Fund Development Egypt also stated; “we need to strengthen laws to protect girls from underage marriage- parents fake birth certificate so they can marry young.”

My interest really peaked in this area by a story told by Reem Badran, a vice-chairman from Jordan Chamber of Commerce, who explained that she was told she couldn’t be a witness for signing of papers because she’s a woman! She asked why and was told because it’s the law- only males can witness signatures. Ms Reem consulted her lawyers and discovered that, it’s in fact not law, but actually culture. This story highlights grey areas and that quick fixes of changing laws won’t necessarily always result in progress but that attention must be placed on the deeply rooted cultural habits and that laws alone won’t fix that.

2) Technology is VITAL in women’s progress.

The point about the role that technology plays was highlighted time and time again by various speakers throughout the G8 summit. I absolutely agree-technology that is one of the most liberating tools for women (she writes as she has a laptop and phone capturing the whole summit via my instagram, twitter, facebook, blog and video!). When we deliver ‘Startup and Stilettos- The Future is Female’ programme, the social media module is one of the most exciting for the women. Women who may have previously felt isolated and closed up can now use this important platform. Perhaps this is why so many Arab women use Instagram and now running their business from it.

Ms Diane Primo, Founder of Interlink Global made a passionate statement on this; “Technology is an important tool- it can no longer keep women in their place. You want to give women access- give them access to the world. Share information. It’s making us talk about our issues and getting us huge global backing. Good news for us!”

3) Women’s progress (opportunities, barriers & DFID announcement)

Firstly it’s important to refer to Fiona Wolf’s point (Chairman, CMS Cameron McKenna) that “the challenges faced in the MENA aren’t unique to just the MENA region- even here in the UK, in the FTSE 100, there are only 3 female CEOs”.

I would also echo Dianna Primo’s points that “We need to embrace entrepreneurialism- the spirit of it. Passion and attitude breaks the barrier- how do we support that: fearless women and risk takers.”

In the quest for women to develop and rival men in industries- I felt Lynne Franks point was an important one; “Women don’t have to be like men to be successful- we have our own qualities for success.” That’s something which I remind girls and women when I go out and speak and train females- you should be able to be feminine, yourself and still be taken seriously. We shouldn’t have to fit into people’s boxes in order to succeed.

Over lunch I was sitting outside (in the beautiful Lancaster House Garden) speaking to colleagues who were listing their desired recommendations for the MENA region. I stated that surely it’s wrong to assume that a country like Qatar for example, needs the same support and actions as Egypt. The countries and the stage that they’re at vary hugely, and therefore our solutions should too. This was a risk I picked up at the conference, is that the excitement and passion felt by all to support women to progress, has to be done so with the appreciation that any one way won’t necessarily work for all- and I would personally welcome leading females in participating countries to develop their own networks that can help shape a solution fit for purpose.

In one of the workshops, a British lady strongly stated to Arab women “we were where u are 40 years ago- learn from our mistakes. Stop pushing people into University- you need industry and jobs” I went and spoke to her afterwards and applauded her point but reminded her that one has to appreciate a couple of things; 1) their culture is extremely different to the one in the UK and 2) Sometimes we have to go through the necessary processes in order to arrive at the desired destination.

This point was further emphasized by the lovely Princess Sumaya Bint El Hassan, Jordan, ‘We look to you for advice, training and guidance to go forward but we ask that you appreciate our culture and history.’ (perhaps more directed at the West).

Tara Vishwanath- Senior Economist on MENA, the World Bank. outlined; “The last 3 decades has seen progress on closing gender gap. More females attending Universities and enrolling into education- however this is not translating into economic participation. MENA still has one of the lowest in the world.” A point which was further backed by the minister for Social Development, Jordan – H.E Reem Abu Hassan

Ms Tara highlighted also the importance of encouraging women into business as World Bank findings show that women are more likely to employ women, so will have a snowball effect.

Melody Hossaini. Speaking about Social Enterprise

It was at this point, that I felt compelled to contribute to the summit by raising Social Enterprise and the fact that it’s women who are leading this important sector of business. Throughout ‘Startup and Stilettos- The Future is Female’ programme we’ve learned that introducing social enterprise as an option for women can have extremely positive implications resulting in economic participation.

The Minister for International Development, Justine Greening spoke passionately about the subject saying; “Businesses that don’t invest in women will miss out. Investing in women and girls isn’t just right, but also smart. Investing in women has a double benefit- 1) for them as individuals and 2) The women invest into families and communities.”

The lack of and difficult access to financial support is a barrier however. “There is not enough finance available for enterprise for women.” Justine Greening used the conference to announce the DFID’s plans to tackle this by developing 2 initiatives:

1)    The Challenge Fund-  For early 2014, a fund for Arab women to encourage competition and increase women’s economic participation.

2)    Offering technical assistance to Governments

This was the first of conferences in this way- and overall, was impressed with the level of discussion and commitment to this agenda. At one point I caught myself applauding a female being able to witness a signature or the first ever female to complete a PHD, and thought wow we really do have a long way to go in the MENA region- but we’re finally taking the important steps forward. InspirEngage International is working extensively in the region including being a partner in running a girls’ college in Saudi Arabia where we’re delivering key curriculum to support girls into employment and setting up their own businesses.

On the final panel, something which made me laugh was said by one of the American representatives; “As we go forward and powers shift- we hope that you’re kinder to us than we have been to you” Quentin Primo- CEO Capri Capital. (not sure if he meant shift of powers from West to East or male to female!). Lady next to me replies; “Can’t promise anything!”

Melody Hossaini, Founder and CEO, InspirEngage International.

Email us: info@inspirEngage.com and follow tweets / instagram: @Melody_Hossaini / @inspirEngage


Startup and Stilettos Live Blog

The Ultimate Choice for Women- Career vs Family.

Should we feel guilty either way?

This weekend we have been running our Startup and Stilettos Bootcamp to a new group of women, which has proved to be a real eye opening experience on the issue of gender equality. Hearing the views of many of the ladies here from such a personal stance has encouraged us and enabled us to explore this issue from a totally unique perspective. Our Bootcamps are working to empower women to equip them with the necessary skills to surpass the constraints which are often imposed upon them and achieve their goals.

Startup and Stilettos Bootcamp by InspirEngage International

Despite having come a huge way in recent years, it is clear that we are still not living in a society where gender equality prevails – nowhere near. Women still face huge barriers to opportunities, with much of this evident in the workplace. Out of 190 heads of state, just 9 are women. Of all the people in parliament in the world, 13% are female. In the business world, only 14% form the head of commercial businesses. Clearly we are not living in a representative society and something here needs to change.

A TED talk by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg shown on the first day of our Startup and Stilettos Bootcamp, sparked a huge debate and showed the differences in opinion between women themselves! Some interesting insights were brought to light and many interesting views were voiced on the subject of women in the workplace.

When it comes to dealing with this subject, there is always a huge emphasis on getting more women into the workplace. Obviously this is something which is at the heart of the issue – but is this always what women want? Surely this can’t be the only measure of equality and it does not represent the epitome success. Many empowered women choose to stay at home with their children as this is what they love doing, and the importance of this shouldn’t be downplayed. As Sheryl Sandberg says, we can only move forward in this arena if this becomes an equally viable choice for men as well.

Initially, focusing on family life and being in the home were seen as stagnating the process of female development and women were encouraged to immerse themselves in professional life. But is it possible that we have now reached the other extreme where this pressure is so large that women who choose to stay at home out of choice actually feel guilty for doing so? In this new era of female empowerment, we are quite rightly encouraging women to explore fulfilling careers and businesses, however after a point is there a danger of prescribing a path for women that they do not necessarily want? These are the complexities that women currently face.

This is exactly what one of our participants felt. A trained lawyer, she feels this career doesn’t allow her to fulfill her other passion – being with her children. She is now opting to start her own social enterprise, which she believes will be able to give her the right balance, whilst still allowing her to pursue her passion.

The ladies at the Bootcamp

The flexibility of social enterprise has been highlighted by many others here as a potential solution. It is a means of fulfilling your passion whilst being able to control the way in which you manage your time, often giving you the chance to prioritise other commitments when necessary. For many of the women here at the Bootcamp, this seems to be a great option which enables them to focus both on their career and their personal lives to the extent which they would like. Perhaps this is why women are currently leading the way in this sector with 45% of social enterprises now being women-led.

Perhaps what is really key here is putting more emphasis on equality of opportunity, and letting the women themselves choose what they wish to do with that power.


Written by Maggie Shiltagh- InspirEngage Young Ambassador, tweets at @MaggieInLondon



Social Enterprise

Building confidence in young people


Whether you’re on a quest to develop your confidence, beating the bullies or simply on a journey of self-discovery- this blog is for you.

More & more whilst working with young people, it’s being confirmed to me that having confidence really is key. Confidence isn’t a fluffy concept, like I think so many people have perceived it as, but instead the foundation.

Linked to confidence is identity. If you feel comfortable with who you are & what you’re also not- you’ll, in turn, feel confident.

We hear that people lack skills- I think more often people may lack the ability to apply their vast potential which they undoubtedly hold. An artist and friend of mine, Oliver J Brooke saw my tweets on this and wrote; ‘Without the confidence to utilise your talents and capabilities, you make those capabilities redundant.’ Very true.

So what should you do? Go through the process of discovering who you are- and yes, that is an ongoing process of connecting the dots in your life (so will include where you’ve come from, what kind of things you’re passionate about, what the greatest moments of your life have been and what your long term visions are) and also introspecting. The next steps are accepting & maximising on what you find- in other words what you’re now going to do with it.

how to develop confidence and be successful

"Only then will you discover the true extent of your abilities". Melody Hossaini

During the process of self-discovery- or creating ‘My Passport’ as we call it at InspirEngage International – it’s important to push yourself out of your immediate comfort zone.

  • Do something you’ve never done,
  • Say yes to something you never thought you could
  • Accept to spend time with people you never would have done before
  • And finally; do one thing which frightens the living daylight out of you!

Only then can you really start to understand the true extent of your abilities. Once you feel good and clear about who you are- I’m sorry but if people have a problem with it, then that’s an issue for them to deal with – not you. Be you & be good. The rest is irrelevant.

Tweet me your thoughts about this blog and keep me updated with progress! @Melody_Hossaini


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