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



Are you the person who when given half an opportunity, you take it and run with it? Or are you the person who shrugs their shoulders and says ‘I can’t be bothered?’ – that’s the difference between success and failure. Success truly starts with a willingness to put in, say yes and show up. Yesterday InspirEngage launched the #SUCCESStour in partnership with NCS giving young people an opportunity to shape their own success. Thank you Hagley Catholic School for hosting the first stop of the tour- it was a pleasure speaking with your students.

This project comes as a continuation of our work with NCS since 2011 in delivering the InspirEngage Bootcamps as part of the Summer programme, training young people to develop the skills to firstly shape a solid social action project, but also on how to turn their social action project into a social enterprise. This way continuing to make a difference whilst also earning an income.

We look forward to the coming stops on the #SUCCESStour- see live developments on twitter: @InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini


Are you a school who wishes to host the #SUCCESStour for your students? Drop us a line on: info@inspirEngage.com

Are you 15-17 and want to find out more and sign up to NCS? Check out http://www.ncsyes.co.uk

Are you a provider and interested in the InspirEngage Social Enterprise Bootcamps for phase 2 of the Summer programme? Email info@inspirEngage.com

So many people will tell you that you shouldn’t care what people think! I find that such a stupid, unrealistic & irresponsible stance! I am extremely confident in myself- but I care deeply what people think! In fact I’m always fascinated by how people view me. HOWEVER- what people think doesn’t change how I see myself. I know who I am and what I’m not.

So if you’re working towards a state where you don’t care what people think- then change your goal! And those who say they don’t care what people think- are lying!!!! It’s human and it’s ok! But don’t let everyone’s beliefs become your beliefs.

Be happy with who you are. That’s confidence.


Need further support to be the best you can be- be more confident and do your talents justice? Book in for a limited slot for 1-2-1 Coaching with me. See more information here or email info@inspirEngage.com with subject ‘Coaching with Melody’



Panel at JWEF Bahrain

Firstly Happy International Women’s Day 2016 to all the fabulous ladies out there and the men who appreciate them! Every IWD I write a blog about a story or message relating to my work on the advancement of women and this one is a special one about a moment that happened very recently that really shocked me and to those who ask ‘but why do we even need IWD still?’ – this is why!

Last month, I was invited to deliver a range of programmes with InspirEngage International in Bahrain. I’m no stranger to the region and had even previously delivered our Bootcamp in Bahrain. This time I was at the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum- a gathering franchised across the world with the aim of supporting young people to launch their own businesses. Let me paint the scene. It’s day 2 of the conference, 200 people in the room, mostly young people (university students) but on the left side of the auditorium were 50 or so young boys aged 15/16. I’m on stage on a judging panel of an enterprise competition alongside a director of Intel and a gentlemen from one of the UN agencies. He’s talking about the general enterprise community of Bahrain and at one point he asks almost as a rhetorical question aimed at the young boys; “Would you guys ever work under a woman”. Before he’s finished his sentence, a few of the boys shout determinedly; “NO!”

The gentleman pauses but continues his talk generally. Once he’s finished, it’s time to announce the winner of the enterprise competition – but I can’t let it go. I take the mic and say “it’s my moral obligation to challenge you on what you said, in fact it’s all of our social responsibility” – my aim wasn’t to attack but to understand, so I asked if we could speak about it and why they said they would never work under a woman. One of the braver boys who had been most adamant answers “because men are more responsible” This interested me – so I said, “ok so what about if the woman had earned her way justifiably to the senior position – she was great at it, responsible and deserved it – would you work under her then?” – he still said “NO!”

By this point, the gentleman at my side was whispering in my ear to let it go and that they’re just young. The gentleman from the UN was back on the mic by this point saying that in Islam, prophet Mohammad worked for a woman and that it’s important to remember that, but then said something which deeply troubles me; “it’s women who raise children” so basically, if boys think like that then the mother is to blame. They were keen to move things on – and I didn’t even have a mic – so without a mic I persevered (not shown in video clip): I appreciate that every culture is different, religion is different and yes, places like the UK aren’t perfect in equality of gender either (in fact, we also have a long way to go) and this wasn’t about those specific boys, but about us questioning long-held beliefs that we automatically hold and thinking about the consequences of what our beliefs mean. I made the point that raising children and shaping society is more than just women’s responsibility – we all have a power to influence outcomes, and what point would there be to support the girls in the room to launch a business if half the population wouldn’t work for them- especially when Bahrain has no end of talent and potential, which was evident in our Bootcamps. More importantly – our societies are shaped by what we think, say and do; it wasn’t immediately about those boys but about the message it would give out to accept those views.

As I spoke passionately – I looked around at the faces of the women, wondering if they would step in or had a view on it. But the room was silent.

After the panel - the reaction of girls and boys

Interestingly, afterwards, a notable number of the women came up to me thanking me for speaking up, saying they were horrified too. We had an interesting conversation but I made it clear- “next time you hear something which you think should change and is wrong; in your own respectful way, speak up or you’re part of the problem”. I look up and 2 of the young boys from that group were there too – one said “we just wanted to come up to you and apologise on our friend’s behalf- hope it didn’t offend you.” I replied; “Thank you so much – that’s very mature of you. This isn’t about me and it’s not personal. This is about us provoking thought to create change. Here’s an idea – why don’t you go back to school and suggest to a teacher to have a discussion with the boys about this issue”. That was my bottom line aim in speaking out- not for people to adopt my thinking but to provoke thought and let people question opinions they’d previously held without considering an alternative. That’s how change starts.

We are all part of the solution.

For all enquiries: melody@inspirEngage.com
Tweet/ Ig: @Melody_Hossaini
Web: MelodyHossaini.com







InspirEngage Bootcamp on Social Enterprise at JWEF by Melody Hossaini

During the week of 15th February, The InspirEngage team carried out a tour of activities in Bahrain, including Skills Bootcamps at Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF), our Business Masterclass for SMEs as well as a stop on the international speaking tour ‘How to Change The World’. It was our second time in Bahrain, having previously delivered the InspirEngage Bootcamp training young professionals from across the MENA region to launch their own social enterprises relating to the environment, in partnership with the British Council. Here’s a breakdown of what we got up to and what we learned.

InspirEngage Skills Bootcamp

InspirEngage Bootcamp Day2

The JWEF brought together hundreds of young aspiring entrepreneurs. On the programme were a range of panels and speakers. But our stance was – magic happens when you take inspiration and turn it into action in that moment when a window of opportunity opens in your mind. This is what the Bootcamp was for. Covering the practical aspects of building an actionable plan from an idea. We delivered the Bootcamp in 2 parts- the first focusing on setting the foundation by training the participants to use our tool called ‘Career Map’ to define their goal, their identity and strengths as well as setting the right mindset for impact. The second part was hands-on and high energy including helping participants to understand social enterprise as well as putting it all in practice with our social enterprise task. They amazed us with their concepts and proved that although at the start, none of them really knew what social enterprise was- by the end of it, so many were aspiring social entrepreneurs- helping people to turn passion into profit.

‘How to Change the World’ – Speaking to Students

As Melody Hossaini’s signature speaking tour – we made a stop at Al Rajaa School in Bahrain to speak to hundreds of excited students! The presentation focuses on provoking thought in students about success and impact as well as share actionable tools and methods for ensuring their individual potential being fulfilled. The students and teachers were blown away by Melody’s interactive style – including having students up to take part in a shock-exercise. The students were eager, energised and stayed around for a long time to ask lots of questions sparked by ideas they had!

Business Masterclass for SMEs

InspirEngage Business Masterclass for SMEs

As part of supporting the growth of the eco-system as a whole in Bahrain, it’s vital to engage SMEs. For this reason, we designed an interactive ‘Business Masterclass’ hosted by Bahrain SMEs Society and the British Council. Participants were taken through a range of exercises to consider their place in the market, their social impact models and how to adopt a mindset shift leading to organisational transformation. What struck us was the fear that exists amongst people to share their ideas for risk of someone stealing their concept and replicating it. We had a fascinating dialogue on this, with us sharing the network models and changing face of business to be much more transparent.


Facilitating Panel on Success Stories of Local Entrepreneurs

Success Stories of Local Young Social Entrepreneurs

On day 1 of the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum, Melody was invited to chair a panel of 4 young entrepreneurs from the region- Wafa Obaidat, Faisal Sherraif, Aysha Al Oraifi and Abdulrazag Al-Mutawa. We started with each panelist giving an overview of who they are and what they do. Melody then prompted them to tell tales of how they went from having an idea all the way to making it a success. Topics of discussion included whether starting when you’re young is a barrier or strength (most of the panelists felt that there young age worked in their favour although a couple of them did mention that sometimes they had to work hard to be taken seriously), the exact step-by-step of how they got started and got their first clients as well as their top tips for success for the aspiring entrepreneurs. Melody fielded questions from young people including from a 13-year-old who wanted to know if he was too young to get started. The panel’s advice – you’re not too young – go for it! Melody had some added words as someone who began in her sector aged 13 also. “Of course you can begin when you’re 13- but like anyone else starting a venture; do your research, speak to people who know that industry and be committed.”

It was a pleasure for us to be back in Bahrain and working to shape a strong eco-system of entrepreneurship – but one which is also socially responsible and allows young people to thrive. We wish all the young people and SMEs the best and look forward to their continued impact!

For all enquiries, email: info@inspirEngage.com

The social enterprise movement in the UK has grown to be one of the leading eco-systems globally. InspirEngage International is working across the world, supporting the development of social enterprise- most recently in Hong Kong. Here’s an insight into what we observed in this growing economy.

On panel at Social Enterprise Summit Hong Kong, Chaired by Mr Timothy Ma

A beautiful country and former British colony- Hong Kong now stands proudly with much activity in its business sector, but what about social enterprise? I was invited to speak at the Social Enterprise Summit 2015- an annual event bringing together Government, Business and community to further efforts on social enterprise in Hong Kong.

Speaking at Social Enterprise Summit Hong Kong

As part of my international speaking tour ‘How To Change The World’ – I delivered a seminar + Q&A on the reform of education with social enterprise. I shared the InspirEngage programme ‘Social Enterprise Revolution’ where we have been able to enhance the curriculum by connecting it to life skills development and social enterprise – this way making learning real, making a difference in the community as well as giving students an opportunity to generate an income. See here for more information.

I was fascinated by the interest and questions within the seminar- seemed there was much interest in the connection to education and the role of parents. As part of the summit, I was also a guest at the HSBC Business Luncheon- attended by leaders of the corporate and political sector, discussing how to advance the collaboration between business and community. This also provided a valuable insight.

Having previously delivered InspirEngage programmes in the East Asia region, it’s always been apparent that the work-ethic is strong- but furthermore, there’s a natural spirit of social responsibility which is a powerful foundation for social enterprise. The skills are there and so is investment and funding opportunty- however, I discovered other trends which I believe could be a barrier. There seems to be a notable fear of risk. People are in search of a tried and tested model and a source of support – as opposed to a hunger to innovate (which was much more the case in the UK- the social enterprise sector wanted to find another alternative to the status quo & innovate real change). It’s an interesting predicament, which I feel undervalues the power that is held by the people of Hong Kong who have every reason to be creative.

Topic of Educational Reform with Social Enterprise

There are currently 500 social enterprises in Hong Kong- almost all of which are extremely small-scale initiatives, only 2 having gained investment. There are certainly more; those who are operating with a social mission, but aren’t aware they could be a social enterprise. Either way, it’s the task of those who attended the conference to give growth to this figure.

Much can be done- impact investment, scaling-up of the current social enterprises, capturing and sharing the stories of the local social entrepreneurs, connecting it to the curriculum and also general awareness-raising.

The year of 2016 will be a significant one in the quest to strengthen the social enterprise sector in Hong Kong, as they get ready to host the 2 substantial social enterprise conferences- so watch this space!

Melody Hossaini
Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini / @inspirEngage

Have you ever had that feeling when you tick something off your bucket list? In this blog I want to share an insight into my first time delivering the #HowToChangeThe World tour and InspirEngage Bootcamp in a country I was born in and fled from when I was 2.

Melody Hossaini keynote JWEF Iran 20 Aug 2015

Intro and context

I’m writing this whilst on the plane on the way back from Iran. I spent just less than a week there, but in that time, gained a year’s worth of insight and experience into the culture and state of entrepreneurship in this complex and beautiful country.

Tehran, Iran

I was sat in an airport, waiting for a plane when I saw the email from the President of the Junior World Entrepreneurship Forum (JWEF), inviting me to be a keynote speaker. When I read the location as being my birth city, I could not believe it. I’ve lived in Europe now for 29 years and go back every few years, and whilst there, I speak to young Iranians and when I tell them what I do, they always say it’s so needed there. Yet, I’ve built a social enterprise that’s helped young people in some 100 countries, yet never Iran.

As many of you know, Iran has a complex political state of affairs- whether good or bad, it is what it is but explains why this was always a dream- up until now.

It’s been 4 years since I was in Iran last. A country with history dating back 8,000 years. I actually felt like doing that cliché thing and clapping when the airplane wheels touched the ground! It was a weird feeling…. Perhaps like coming home- especially since I felt I had a specific purpose.

At the Conference- My First Impressions

The JWEF is a global initiative that happens around the world with the aim to “Promote and Accelerate Junior Entrepreneurship as a way to create wealth and social justice, to prepare the world for 2050”. With 500 people in attendance I’d been given a 25 minute keynote. I thought a lot about what I wanted to say, a lot more than usual (my speeches are mostly spontaneous), but this was my first time presenting in my mother tongue Farsi, and although I speak it, the business vocabulary is less developed in me!

Myself and the InspirEngage team, made up of our Iranian associate as well as a young volunteer who connected with me on instagram made our way to the national library of Tehran where it was held. In my time, I’ve attended my fair share of conferences around the world and here are the things which struck me before my speech:

  • The level of professional hospitality. Last year the New York Times published an article on Iranian Hospitality as being exemplary to the world, and even in this professional setting, I can see why! From offering me drinks upon arrival, to ensuring I had refreshments, to bringing me a glass on a tray when they saw I was too busy speaking to young people, to ensuring I had lunch to acts of politeness in rising when a speaker got up and sat down.

    During break- watching the students debate

  • During break, speakers were invited to the VIP room. I never take this offer. I’m always interested in observing what goes on during breaks. That’s where the magic happens. I stood back and observed how Iranians had gathered in a very large group and engaged in a highly interesting and complex debate about human resource potential and solutions. In some conferences I have attended, students may not even move from their seats, but here they were, as passionate as ever, debating!
  • During any opportunity they had to ask questions of speakers, they shocked me with how courageous they were in getting to the heart of the issue! I had always known this of Iranians but to witness it in a professional setting was quite incredible. A young chap put his hand up and asked how in a society where sometimes people are forced to ‘con’ eachother, how can young entrepreneurs operate successfully to both guard and maximise on this. I was struck by the honesty of this question in such a large audience.

My speech

My aim was to share a little of my story and the story of InspirEngage, about social enterprise and my insight on how to find success and happiness in business.

  • One of my principles in speaking is that I always make it interactive. One of the ways in which I do that, is asking the participants a question which I then show the consequence of their answer to. In a big audience of 500, usually there’s at least a few moments of silence as people decide who should speak first. I had not even finished my questions fully, and so many already were getting involved and answering! The confidence level is high!

    The speaking tour, Tehran

  • Iranian culture has a polite version of language and behaviour and then a friendly version (it’s kind of the difference of you and you formal when learning German). It was important to me to connect with the young people- my style isn’t formal and as a speaker, I definitely can’t build that barrier between me and the people I want to connect with. For this reason also, I chose to stand in the middle of the stage, no podium, no table with fancy flower- just me and my guests.
  • In my speech I shared stories of why social enterprise is important and what opportunity it creates as well as stories of kindness, and why this should have a place in business. Afterall, aren’t we all simply working hard to be happy? So why is it underrated?
  • A central message was on why and how it’s so important for individuals to develop their sense of identity and personal brand.

Interacting with the participants

It was what happened after my speech which made it the best day of my life. I heard stories of social enterprises that until now weren’t aware of what they were. A project which profiles those needing urgent medical treatment who don’t have the fees and people donate- kind of like a medical crowd-funding who had saved 44 lives to date! I heard from a young girl who with tears in her eyes, explained to me that she had always been told that she was far too sympathetic and kind to make a good leader and that today she finally learned that it’s ok and fully possible to be both and be a strong leader, I met young people who said that for the first time in a long time, felt proud of being Iranian, and above all, to so many who said that they simply needed a boost in positive energy to feel inspired to achieve.

InspirEngage Bootcamp

I was honoured to deliver a taster InspirEngage Bootcamp for some of the participants. This was a chance to get a little more personal and to dig a little deeper. I covered some of the ‘InspirEngage PROMA’ (project management module) which supported the participants to uncover their traits and where they’re suited on the PROMA cycle in building efficient teams. At the end, we took an awesome group selfie to wrap up a fantastic day.

InspirEngage Bootcamp Selfie!

That evening, I left feeling energized (despite having been there from 11-9pm) and determined to further support young Iranians to find hope and means to prosper.

Look out for upcoming blogs, sharing insight on the enterprise world of Iran, as well as my visit to a social enterprise centre in Tehran.

Follow the journey on instagram on #AroundTehranWithMelody

Email: info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries


Thank you to @aroundtehran and @_erfpics_ (Erfan Alaei) for the photographs. Thank you also to Bahar Business School for hosting and for JWEF Iran + supporters for organisation.

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

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.