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)

‘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

 

 

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’

 

 

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

 

 

Melody Hossaini speaking to staff at University of Brighton

On Tuesday 22nd March 2016, I was invited to deliver a keynote at the ‘Make it Happen’ conference at University of Brighton. The conference which brought together some 100 staff from all levels at the University, had the aim of advancing women in the workplace and inspiring them as individuals.

This is an area that has formed a large part of the work we have undertaken at InspirEngage International, as well as my speaking tours (see blog on our work at the most influential gathering on women’s issues in the world; The Women’s Forum here). The world is waking up the importance of supporting and engaging women to prosper and to be ambitious enough to want what they deserve. Underlying issues remain around pay gap and lack of representation in certain sectors.

Within my 30 minute presentation, I covered the following components:

  • What the current landscape looks like for gender equality and pipeline for advancement of women
  • Statistical data in the difference in cognitive abilities and ambition traits of men and women
  • Studies on what women have expressed they require for fulfilment and retention in the workplace
  • The changing dynamics in the business world with growth of social enterprise
  • Practical tool on reconnecting participants with their personal purpose and career goals
  • Dialogue with colleagues, sharing insight, challenges and opportunities for change and social impact

It was a great session and I was struck by the depth in thinking on the matter and willingness to practically improve the situation. I urge other educational institutions to engage their teams on this topic. The power lies in addressing unconscious bias, challenging unjust processes that hold women back, encouraging women to become more confident and allowing each person to connect with their personal purpose and connect this to their role.

Testimonials

“Great conference and great presentation. Thank you.” Mairead Stickings, Staff, University of Brighton

“Fascinating talk by Melody” Nicola Ashton, Alumni Engagement Officer, University of Brighton

“Inspiring talk by social entrepreneur @Melody_Hossaini @InspirEngage “what we think we become” “create your own reality” – Penny Simpson, HR Member of Staff, University of Brighton

 

Email info@inspirEngage.com for all enquiries and bookings.

 

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 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

Family is good. Yes, we can all agree on that- but is it good to operate with a spirit of family in business? My views on why the Kids Company – a sizeable youth charity in the UK – fell apart.

Camila Batmanghelidjh - Kids Company Founder

Having watched the BBC documentary ‘Camila’s Kids Company- The Inside Story’ the answer is clear in my mind. The spirit of family is good – especially as a long-time youth sector supporter and social entrepreneur, I admire the ethos Camila Batmanghelidjh had, which was to see others as her own. However, in practice, the spirit of ‘family’ needs to be differentiated from the running of a business.

But what do you do when you’re so deep in the sentiment and feeling of giving and too emotionally involved? Well, this is where the big flaw was. The demise of the Kids Company underlined the importance of co-leadership (in whatever role and however structured) of someone who is emotionally tied to the mission and drives it with passion, and someone whose role it is to oversee the running of the business, the figures and finances and importantly accountable governance.

Watching the documentary, Camila reminded me of a bitter ex-wife. The ex-wife who doesn’t feel the new wife as fit enough to run her home and look after her kids. She was simply too emotionally involved to run the business side of things the way it needed to. In a way, I truly admire her strength and drive. She really was a woman on a mission- she had skills and assets which the charity almost couldn’t do without, but she was perhaps in the wrong role, and had she allowed someone in to run the business and instead focused on liaising with the community and ensuring that delivery on the ground was sufficient – the charity would have probably survived.

The thing which made me very uncomfortable was how dependent the service users were. There’s no doubt that Kids Company made a substantial difference to people’s lives. That was clear. However, I don’t think it a mark of success that people cry out your name in need- because that means you haven’t empowered them or helped them develop their skills to survive- you’ve simply empowered yourself to help- a help, they’ll always depend on. A help which without they’d drown. That’s dangerous. At InspirEngage International, we always instil a sense of social and personal responsibility in the individuals we train and work with. Otherwise, we’d be doing a disservice to them.

As a former Chair of The Board of Trustees at UK Youth Parliament, I was always conscious of the legal and financial responsibility I held. Something must also be said for their role in this.

When all is said & done- the demand & need in community is what should be highlighted. There’s work to be done.

Tweet me your thoughts @Melody_Hossaini.

Melody

 

Trained these young children in Dubai in the InspirEngage International Bootcamp with the aim of breaking their norm of a classroom just being about books. We developed their confidence, trained them to think about their ongoing self-education, got them to stand up- push desks out of the way and interact. We also wanted to build their sense of social responsibility to see that they have the power to make a difference in their community.
After the Bootcamp, their teacher went up to the host client and was saying something in Arabic, that looked like a complaint. Afterwards, I asked what she’d said, the host answered; “the teacher said that now that the children had seen what a classroom can be like, she’s worried that they’ll never listen to her!”
We have to break norms of what education has to look like and be creative in the classroom to engage students, to open their minds and skills but also to ensure we’re teaching them lessons for life- not just exams.
In the past few years, InspirEngage and myself have trained many educators both in the UK and abroad on implementing more creative methods and social enterprise models. Email info@InspirEngage.com for all enquiries

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

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

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.

 

Happy Youth Day! An important day to celebrate the young people who work tirelessly to improve the world we live in. Supporting young people to feel better and acquire skills to create change in their communities, has formed a central focus for me which later turned into InspirEngage International. On this day, I think about the many young people we have met and trained in our InspirEngage Bootcamps across the world, who wanted to give back even when they had nothing, the young people who gave of their time and energy even when they were told they were crazy dreamers and the young people who showed kindness without agenda when adults couldn’t set the good example. You are the hope for our better world.

Here is an absolutely fascinating and inspiring short video sharing the stories of 3 young change makers, Eden Full, Zach Ingrasci and Amit Dodani on why they became such pioneers of social action. Video by our friends at Youth Venture and Ashoka.

Story of 3 young change makers.

 

All enquiries: info@inspirEngage.com Tweet: InspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini

 

 

I witnessed a lovely Random Act of Kindness in my community. When I told the person that what they’re doing is a lovely thing, they told me that people probably wouldn’t care. I wanted to prove that wrong……

Ed and his lovely dog Daisy

Meet Ed and Daisy. In the past week, I have noticed Ed walking his dog around my area and whilst walking around, he picks up other people’s litter. I talked to him one of the days when I was out walking with Kian (my 10 month old son), and I told him what a wonderful thing he is doing. I asked him if I could take a photo as I wanted to share his random act of kindness with all of you. He laughed and said- people will probably not care! I wanted to prove him wrong. That evening, I posted the following across my twitter, instagram and Facebook social media accounts (with the photo above):

“This is Ed & his dog Daisy. They live in my area. Every night after work, Ed takes Daisy for a walk and whilst going around, he picks up litter in his little plastic bag. And he does this with a smile on his face! Have spoken to him a couple of times and tonight when I approached him and asked if I could take a pic and post about what he does to you guys, he was surprised about why anyone would even care or that is in fact a big deal. Next time I see him on my walks with Kian, I’ll let him know what you guys have said! People like Ed make an area, a community. Show them love! ‪#‎community‬ ‪#‎kindness‬ ‪#‎randomactofkindness‬

Sure enough- the love rolled in! Comments like:

All your comments + my note to Ed

Peggie Allison: It’s all the small things that really matter in life.

Jay Miah Bless him! We need more people like him in the world! keep it up ed! Ur awesome

Farzana Nazir-Mohammed Melody this is amazing and good for you for highlighting such great acts of kindness . People like Ed deserve to be popular on social media because they actually set a great example for others to follow. Best wishes to Ed and Daisy and may nothing but good be returned to them. XOXO.!

In 24 hours, my posts had been viewed by some 11,000 people with 3 pages worth of lovely comments! I collated it all, printed it and put a little note on it. The next day, I gave Ed this. He was absolutely shocked as he looked through your beautiful remarks about his act of kindness. He’s a very manly man! He said he doesn’t know how to react to compliments, as he almost welled up!

With Ed & Daisy after giving him the print-out (in Ed's hand!)

There are so many people in our communities who do their little bit to make our world better. We need to create a society that recognises this and makes those people feel appreciated. Kindness is infectious – it gives people energy. Thank you to those who contributed in making Ed feel appreciated. Next time you see kindness, make that person feel good about themselves. It will undoubtedly make them want to do more. The little things matter.

Love,

Melody x

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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:



 

The Social Enterprise Revolution at Barnet and Southgate College – What Happened!

Barnet and Southgate wanted to bring social enterprise into their curriculum areas in a big way! We spread impact across college with successful Teacher Training, both in-person Bootcamps and online Tutorials for students, resulting in innovative social enterprise projects. Skills Bootcamp also helped student to secure job in interview!

“It’s a great to be working with Melody and InspirEngage as I see this partnership as a brilliant and unique way of embedding social enterprise opportunities within all our courses” David Byrne, Principle at Barnet and Southgate College

This Pioneer college opted for all of the components of the SER programme, including Carousel and Launch, Teacher Training, 8 Skills Bootcamps in person and the Bootcamp Tutorials (impact across college), Showcase day followed by the Graduation.

Teacher Training: Melody with the Curriculum Area Leads

Teachers: Following the launch of SER at the college, all heads of department were gathered for a Teacher Training day with CEO, Melody Hossaini. Through this, they became Social Enterprise Champions and importantly helped co-design what weaving in social enterprise into their curriculum area, would look like. What some of the teachers had to say:  “Thank you for a great trainer’s day. Very energetic and informative trainer.” and “Excellent training, lively and informative.”

Students: The Bootcamps covered all our core modules spread over 8 sessions- students learned what social enterprise looks like, examples of what young people their age have achieved, how you construct a social mission, how to work as a team, how to sharpen their communication skills in business and much more. By way of a taster and opportunity to apply skills gained, students were set a social enterprise sales task, working with our partners My Bnk. Students went away for a week and sold their social enterprise products: Seedbombs, Chocolate and Soap. They sold £432.50 – in just one week!

Projects: The students came up with a range of social enterprise projects, connected to their curriculum, which they presented on Showcase Day. The projects included:

‘Food for Thought’ – fighting homelessness. Students brought in their unwanted clothes, which they sold and raised over £100 in one day. Unsold clothes went to local homeless people and local charity. Now in phase 2 they’re investing their money into making a plaque bench for the community working cross-departmentally with construction students.

Social Enterprise Revolution

‘Rules of Web Design’ – designed a brand new platform, which gives information on how to create a website. It’s free to use so they can forums on there to help people. Selling advertising space to commercialise it. This project was assessed as part of the student’s curriculum area.

‘Diggy Dogs’ – hoody for college leavers so students still feel a part of the Barnet and Southgate community. They worked with other creative groups in the college to finalise the design. They used the showcase to do a feedback survey about what students wanted and managed to secure 50 pre-orders at £20 each without even having the product yet!

Impact: During the Showcase Day one student said, ‘The support I got from the course was great, it was a great experience to have and I will consider what I want to do in the future now’. On the Social Enterprise Revolution Graduation Day, one student said; ‘ I really enjoyed the Showcase Day! I gained a large variety of skills that I have applied to real life business situations which I can take forward in life.’

In the first Bootcamp, one of the female participants was so anxious about presenting in front of the group that she left the room. Our InspirEngage Trainers helped the student to develop her skills and confidence in presenting. By the end of the Social Enterprise Revolution, she presented her groups’ final social enterprise project to the class and she spoke on camera about her experiences!

When we covering the Communications module, one student said he had an Interview coming up and was really worried about his communication skills as he got really nervous. We showed him how to apply everything he had learned through the Bootcamp – listening, communicating yourself with clear words and reading the interviewers body language. The next week we saw him he told us he did really well, wasn’t too nervous and was offered the job!

Some of the students- skills for social enterprise!

Testimonials:
“The support I got from the course was great, it was a great experience to have and I will consider what I want to do in the future now” Hasan Avci, Student

“I gained negotiation and planning skills, and how to find a target market.” Stephanie, Student

“The Social Enterprise Revolution was awesome! I found the teamwork aspect most useful and I learned to take more initiative” Siavash, Student

“I really enjoyed the Showcase Day! I gained a large variety of skills that I have applied to real life business situations which I can take forward in life.” Dominic Olive, Student

“I have gained confidence and knowledge of social enterprise – Thank you!” Rebecca McKeer, Student

“I really enjoyed the Social Enterprise Revolution. I’ve gained new skills, and it’s given me a list of ideas on how to communicate well” Alex Nonillo, Student

“I got first hand experience in selling – I’ve never had to sell products to people before!” Jamie, Student

Want to chat to us about The Social Enterprise Revolution? Drop us a line on info@inspirEngage.com and give us a follow on @SocEnt_Rev/ @InspirEngage