On BBC The Apprentice as the first social entrepreneur

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Dr Anthony Seldon

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

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

Read original BBC article here.

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

Developing Life Skills for Young People-InspirEngage Bootcamp



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

Tweet: @Melody_Hossaini

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


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

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

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

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

Kheyli mamnoun- ghadresho midounam, va dar Iran mibinametoun!



Kicking off IWD 2015! InspirEngage Seminar to Adult Aspiring Entrepreneurs, Birmingham

International Women’s Day Activities

Speaking to adult aspiring entrepreneurs in Birmingham

My IWD activities kicked off in the heart of Birmingham when I was invited to be a keynote speaker at an event to inspire adult females to go into business.

'Breaking barriers in Business' IWD Birmingham

Some had already launched an enterprise and wanted to grow it, some were sitting on ideas and were not sure whether they wanted to take the plunge and some were there networking. I shared a little bit of my journey, including a personal stories, but my main focus was on being honest with the ladies – it’s hard work, yes, but it’s never been a better time to go into business, if that’s what they want to do.

I also shared the first practical steps they can take as well as low-cost methods in building their business and getting it out there. It was a pleasure, and I was moved by the ladies who came up to me afterwards. The aspect which had impacted on them most from my interactive speech was about women supporting eachother- I call it ‘becoming women-lovers!’ – see my youtube video on this > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdJ6hA4pFBs

Melody Hossaini, founder and CEO of InspirEngage International, began her talk with a strong statement: “I’m not going to give you an inspirational talk, I’m just going to keep it real.” She then proceeded to give an incredibly powerful talk, highlighting challenges she has faced so far as a business woman. The room was in complete silence as she shared stories, tips and advice, from being on BBC One’s Apprentice in 2011 to tales of how she has disarmed people with kindness. Melody gave a realistic account on the impacts of social enterprises and provided encouragement for women who are considering taking the same path.” Annika Spalding

School girls from Tamworth- Taster Startup & Stilettos Bootcamp

On 11th March, I was invited to speak to some 200 schools girls.

Provoking thought is always interactive

The day was split into half- half the girls first, then a repeat session for the rest. I spoke to the girls (aged 14-16) about how to break a task down and plan to make it happen. I did some interactive exercises with them and got them moving and thinking! They also got an opportunity to ask me any questions they wanted, mainly around my tips to them about paths to success but a couple of questions also about my fave hair products may have come up!). It was great to see transformation, despite the short session.

“Thank you so much for today. I really enjoyed what you had to say and it really has opened my eyes to different career paths that I may not have considered before. You were an amazing inspiration”Holly Boyne

“Thank you for the incredible speech, you’ve inspired me never give up at the first hurdle”Chloe Kindon

“Your talk was amazing, you really are such an inspirational person” – Luke Ash

“I loved your talk today, it was great. I learned a lot from what you said. Bootcamp sounds good too!” – Paige Nagington

“Your speech was really good and inspiring!” – Alex Reynolds

“Such a good speech Melody, you’re inspiring and beautiful”Chels Simpson

Selfie with the girls at IWD Tamworth

“The girls were very upbeat on the way back to school and I wanted to share a couple of their comments with you. One student said ’I now believe that you don’t have to be someone big, to make something big of yourself”(from a student with negative self image) and secondly, my House Captain thanked me for adding her to the list for the talk, she said it was the ’lift’ she needed to go on, when the pressures of impending exams was getting her down. Thank you for being such an inspiration to them. You have inspired me to do more work with them in school in year 11. Where do I start?” Susan Taylor, Teacher, Wilnecote High School

In the press: http://www.tamworthherald.co.uk/Teenaged-girls-Tamworth-inspired-successful-women/story-26200408-detail/story.html

Mentoring Girls with Corporate Execs

On 12th March, I was invited by Miriam Gonzalez, wife of Nick Clegg, to join the #inspiringwomen campaign (led by Education & Employers Taskforce). The campaign brings together successful women from various fields to mentor young girls. I was honoured to be joined by senior women such as Claire Valoti, Head of Agency Relations, Facebook, Nishma Robb, Head of Marketing, Google,  Simone Schuurer, Community and Social Media Manager, Microsoft and Ngaire Moyes, Director of Communications, LinkedIn.

Mentoring girls at Mulberry School

We walked in to around 150 girls at round tables, with lots of questions prepared for all of us. As mentors, we were all seated at a different table each and had 7mins to take as many questions as possible before the bell ringing and having to rotate! The girls asked me questions such as; ‘what did you study as school’, ‘what do you do on a typical day?’, ‘What advice would you give your younger self?’ and lots more! Really interesting day and a great energy in the room. The girls seem very motivated!



Social Enterprise = Business with a Good Cause. Makes money as well as improves communities and helps its people. Here’s why social enterprise is the best business model.

Business where you can make money as well as make a difference? Sounds perfect. And it is for those going into business. In 2011, I predicted that social enterprise would be the business model of the future and so far it’s looking like we are definitely headed that way, and perhaps even, ahead of schedule. 2014 was the year that truly cemented social enterprise. Despite the recession social enterprises are overtaking mainstream businesses – 58% of social enterprises grew their business last year compared to 28% of SMEs.

In 2015 it looks set to be the year that social enterprise makes its way from the sidelines to the mainstream of business. Too right and here’s why social enterprise is the best business model.

  • Consumers: Within a very saturated market, consumers now want to buy something with narrative. Social enterprise offers that narrative. We are seeing a shift in consumer approach towards asking where their product comes from and what impact it has. Now more than ever, we’re more likely to buy products which we know will help people and are sourced fairly (like Divine chocolate). On this point it’s also important to say that social enterprises won’t and can’t achieve their aim unless people buy social. It’s on all of us to choose to buy from sources that can have a positive social impact!
  • Investors and Supporters: Not only do consumers want to buy ethically and have impact with their spending- but so do investors. ‘Angel News’ who are an organisation that have a network of Angel Investors, stated that one of the reasons investors invest once they’ve reached a certain level of success, is so that they can give back (as well as make a return on their investment). Social enterprise fits this notion. There’s never been a greater appetite amongst investors. In the last budget announcement by the Chancellor, we saw the introduction of tax relief in investment in social enterprises. It’s not only attractive for investors, but also gaining support of mentors, who similarly to investors, want to give back, and have a growing appetite to support those with a social mission.
  • Solving Social Issues: Perhaps, most importantly, social enterprises aren’t just contributing to UK’s economy, but also improving our communities, helping vulnerable groups of society and allowing people to make passion their career! From reusing wasted items to providing relief for the hungry to creating jobs for our young people – social enterprises are working hard to help solve the imminent social problems facing us. This will also save us money- money that it would have cost the Government to try to solve it later. Young people, who form a large part of social enterprise founders, are seeing a natural progression from volunteering within their communities, into social enterprise (how I got started myself).

Read the next blog: ‘How To Set Up Your Social Enterprise’http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2015/02/how-to-launch-a-social-enterprise/

Here at InspirEngage International, we are passionate about supporting young people and women to start their social enterprises by way of delivering our Bootcamps, as well as supporting corporates to adopt a socially enterprising approach. Join the Social Enterprise Revolution!

Melody Hossaini.

For all enquiries, email info@inspirEngage.com. Tweet us @inspirEngage / @Melody_Hossaini / @SocEnt_Rev



‘The Social Enterprise Revolution’ by Melody Hossaini at TEDx

Last blog of 2014

It’s been a year of enterprise booming in Britain (most notably social enterprise), of Gogglebox making us laugh and Google becoming more valuable than Russia! As always, the year has flown by way too quickly, packed with exciting developments both at InspirEngage International and in my personal life. Here are my highlights.

InspirEngage International has had an exciting 2014:

  • Startup and Stilettos has been growing and helping more women to launch their social enterprises. One of the ladies, Patricia made her dreams come true by setting up a business selling her art, using profits to help young people in her area have something to do

    Startup & Stilettos

    and create their own Art which they can sell! We also branched out and for the first time ever delivered a Social Media Bootcamp in partnership with Hillcroft College and Astonish Email. This is vital for adult women and it was really well-received inopening a whole new world of possibilities. Blog on this here > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/07/startup-stilettos-social-media-for-adult-women/ Another highlight was attending and contributing at G8 Summit in London on women in the Arab world attended by the World Bank, Eve Branson, Cherie Blair and Royal family members.

  • Social Enterprise Revolution – Embedding social enterprise into the curriculum, this year featured in the Lord Young ‘Enterprise For All’ report. Our first year has come to an end with our Pioneer Colleges. We’ve seen several social enterprises being born by students- impacting their communities, making money and being assessed in their curriculum. Here’s an insight into our work at Harrow College > http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2014/08/social-enterprise-revolution-harrow-college/
  • InspirEngage Grows! – This year InspirEngage has expanded our team by taking on new expert Trainers as well as extended our intake of Young Ambassadors, Patrons (including Princess Badiya of Jordan) and Mentors. A special thank you to everyone who make up the InspirEngage story.
  • Personal news: Kian… My 2014 is defined by me becoming a mother. On 10 September, I gave birth to a little boy who has changed my world. We named him Kian (name of the ancient Persian Kings – pronounced ‘Kee-aan’). He’s a happy little boy and a social entrepreneur in training! I regularly baby-blog; keep an eye!

Kian and I

Wanted to take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful 2015 ahead.

Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti!


What was your first job? The Department for Work and Pensions has launched a brand new campaign sharing #FirstJob stories, in the hope to inspire young people seeking their first job. I’m pleased to be supporting it, and this is my first job story video.

Melody’s #FirstJob Story: 

Also see ‘Top 10 Tips for finding your #FirstJob’: http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2013/11/how-to-have-the-perfect-job-interview-my-top-tips/


Join the conversation with hashtag #FirstJob and tweet us @Melody_Hossaini / @DWPgovuk

Melody Hossaini’s Top Tips for first job.

Top 10 tips for those looking for their first job by social entrepreneur and skills expert Melody Hossaini- as part of the Department for Work and Pensions #FirstJob campaign inspiring and supporting those entering the job market. (See in both Youtube Video and Text below).


1. Be Strategic
Think about what you enjoy, are good at and ultimately want to do. A job that is as close to your ultimate goal is ideal because it can act as a stepping-stone to future opportunities.

2. Find ways to reach the employer!
InspirEngage speak to a lot of employers who ask us why people have stopped showing up to places introducing themselves with their CVs. Do it! This is a great way to get your face known by prospective employers. Also, if any of your friends have a job that you’re interested in, get introduced to the employer and hand in your CV for future opportunities.-

3. Make yourself stand out from the crowd!
What makes you unique? Show employers a taste of your personality and avoid the generic adjectives like punctual and team player – you’d be surprised just how many people claim to have these traits. You can achieve this by discussing your passions, telling a relevant story, showing your character and sharing something you find interesting.

4. Do your Research!
I’ve interviewed people who were asked whether they knew what InspirEngage does and they looked at me blankly! You can learn more about companies by visiting their website, following them on social media network and speaking to current employees.

5. Do yourself justice in the interview
Everyone gets nervous going into an interview. A little bit of nerves are endearing so don’t worry, just make sure you do yourself justice. Leave that interview room knowing they’ll remember you for a positive reason.

6. Show you actually want the job
Success is driven by passion and employers want to see this. Too many people have sat opposite me at the table and not shown enough hunger or interest!

7. Make each application unique!
No employer wants to feel like you’ve copied and pasted your answers or sent in a generic cover letter. There’s no harm in re-using strong responses just make sure they’re relevant and formatted correctly.

8. Follow up & get feedback
If you don’t hear back from an employer, don’t lose motivation and don’t be afraid to follow up. It shows you actually care about the job and have taken initiative. It’s also a great way to obtain some feedback for future applications and interviews.

9. Questions!
The questions you ask are just as important as your answers. When asked if you have a question – ask one! Not just when you’re likely to hear back, but something about the future of the organisation that shows your interest and reflects your ambition.

10. Social media – clean up!
Anyone can write a pretty CV using a template- but your social media says something about you that your CV can’t- make sure it’s professional and reflective of how you wish to be perceived- anything from you twitter, fb profile pic and whatsapp (you can take numbers from the CV and check!)

Hope you’ve found these a useful! For more application form and interview tips check out my videos at http://www.melodyhossaini.com/2013/11/how-to-have-the-perfect-job-interview-my-top-tips/ Best of luck!

Join the campaign by using hashtag #FirstJob. You can tweet Melody on @Melody_Hossaini and @DWPgovuk
For all enquiries relating to InspirEngage Bootcamps, Career Clinics or how we’re supporting people into employment, email: info@inspirEngage.com

InspirEngage Bootcamp for students

“Everybody is a genius- but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree- it will live its whole life believing that it’s stupid” Einstein. This is ethos behind the InspirEngage Skills Bootcamps- each young person needs to find their path to success. In order to do that, we support participants to explore their personal identity, strengths and long-term goals, coupled with practical life skills to achieve their goals. We use unique shock-tactics and extremely (!) interactive methods to push participants out of their comfort growth, resulting in growth.

In June 2014, we were invited by Mosaic to support their Enterprise Challenge for the 2nd year running. As one of the prizes, students came together from across 5 schools to receive a unique Bootcamp- and here’s what happened…..

(Piece below from Mosaic article)


Melody Hossaini with Enterprise Challenge students

Melody Hossaini, former contestant on BBC’s The Apprentice, took this year’s Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge finalists to a special Enterprise Bootcamp organised by her company InspirEngage International.

Part of a series of follow up prizes to the competition, the enterprise-focussed workshop gave the 23 students from the five schools that finalised in the competition – St Bede’s Catholic Grammar School in Bradford, Harborne Academy in Birmingham, Langley Academy in Slough, Ladybridge High School in Bolton and Brondesbury College for Boys in London – a day to remember.

The students heard from Melody at first-hand about her experience in setting up her company and were given an opportunity to develop their own knowledge and skills across a range of areas linked to setting up and running a social enterprise.“Was really impressed with the students’ progress – not only in their engagement but also their personal growth and consideration for each other.”

Commenting on the Bootcamp, Melody Hossaini, founder and CEO of InspirEngage International said:

“Really pleased to have worked with the Mosaic Enterprise Challenge Finalists for a second year in delivering a taster InspirEngage Bootcamp! The Bootcamp covered life skills modules as well as a strong theme of social enterprise. This forms part of our work with schools on embedding social enterprise into the curriculum- a programme called ‘Social Enterprise Revolution!’

“Was really impressed with the students’ progress – not only in their engagement but also their personal growth and consideration for each other. Look forward to InspirEngage International and Mosaic working together again in future.”

Here’s what some of the students had to say about their day:

“Memorable, exhilarating and definitely a lot better than I thought.” – Abdulhamid, Harborne Academy.

“InspirEngage International is a valuable enterprise for young people like us, Melody is a fantastic ambassador for social enterprises.” – Abrar, Ladybridge High School

“This was a very different working environment I enjoyed it as well.” – Justin, Ladybridge High School

“It was Amazing!” – Francis, St Bede’s

“I’ve never done anything like it. It was unique.” – Dhanseet, Harborne Academy

“It was an amazing and unique experience, I need to do this again!” – Chabir, Ladybridge High School

Jonathan Freeman, National Director of Mosaic, said:

“This was a unique opportunity for the students and provided them with really exciting way to develop their knowledge and skills from somebody who has a very successful story to tell. We are very grateful to Melody Hossaini and InspirEngage International for their time and support for the Apax-Mosaic Enterprise Challenge and to all of our sponsors.”

Photo Credit: Romana Love Photography

Aug 142014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


In 2013, Harrow College became a national Pioneer of Social Enterprise Revolution- an InspirEngage programme and the UK’s first hands-on programme to embed social enterprise into the curriculum of schools, colleges and universities. By incorporating social enterprise into their curriculum, they took an innovative approach to pathways into work for students. Here’s the round-up!

The InspirEngage team put the students through the intense 8 Skills Bootcamps and Incubator throughout the academic year to develop core skills to launch their own social enterprise connected to the curriculum area. Make money and make a difference!

Student projects included,

  • Hair, Beauty and Love! > One group of students took the initiative to organise an event to offer their hair and beauty services to staff and visitors of Great Ormond Street Hospital. Fees from treatments offered were donated to the renowned children’s hospital
  • Bringing cultures together! > A group of female students felt passionately about celebrating and bridging the gap between various cultures in their community and planned a wonderful event with culture food and dance that students contributed to!
  • Be active- be healthy! > If young people have something to do and somewhere to go, they can get out their houses and be active and lead healthier lifestyles. This group of students organised outdoor games for young people in their area.

One student said, ‘I’ve found it very inspirational, because you’re doing something to help someone- which is a good thing for us teenagers – doing something good to help and give back to our community.’

As part of the programme students promote their social enterprise projects at the end of programme Showcase Day. On reflection one student said, ‘Social Enterprise Revolution has helped me develop my future. I know better what I might be doing and I’ve gained knowledge in business and my future is a bit clearer now, than it was a few months ago’.

After Showcase Day, students who have successfully completed the one year programme attend the Social Enterprise Revolution Graduation Day! After graduating, one student said, ‘Social Enterprise Revolution has helped me develop my employability skills, my leadership and management qualities and I am more confident about my future and I’ve got a better idea of how to start and run a business thanks to Social Enterprise Revolution – thank you’.

InspirEngage Mentors, Hannah Catmur and Seun Oshinaike who are successful young entrepreneurs gave up their time to support the students on their enterprise journey at one of the InspirEngage Bootcamps.

InspirEngage Founder and CEO, Melody Hossaini said at the “Amidst a time when there is so much pressure on educational institutions to think innovatively about pathways into work for students, I would like to congratulate Harrow College for adopting social enterprise within their curriculum. Over the course of the year, we have seen positive development in the students, and feel Social Enterprise Revolution finally offers the opportunity for formal education and creative social enterprise to collide.”

Benefits of Social Enterprise Revolution:

  • Allows students to develop their life skills
  • Make their learning real by connecting it to local community causes
  • Develop an enterprising mindset
  • Students make money & start potential work whilst still in education
  • Educational institutions become national Pioneers of Social Enterprise

For all enquiries email: info@inspirEngage.com

Tweet: @SocEnt_Rev / @InspirEngage

Putting other people down to make yourself look big is one of the most cowardly things one can do. Ever thought about why bullies behave the way they do? Felt angered and just put them down to a lost cause? We speak to a lot of young people who are victims of bullying and we explain that those who attack and generally feel the need to belittle someone, are very troubled individuals themselves.

If you think about it, no one who is confident, stable and happy would feel the need to put someone down. Nothing is gained. However, unfortunately, it’s a very common coping mechanism for others. What we do and say is a reflection on us, not on the person it’s said about.

In 2011, I took part in BBC’s ‘The Apprentice’ – and a competitive show like that does push you to your limits. Although it was a little cringe at times when watching back me justifying why I was the worthy winner, it did make me proud to know that I don’t put other people down to make myself look big. Focus on what you can bring to the table and what you can do, rather than relying on why other people can’t, because otherwise, when that component is removed, you’re not left with anything.

You can disarm people with kindness. Sometimes that shocks people more than being mean. I spoke about this in a previous video which can be seen below. Ultimately, that gives you a good kind of power. That’s what’s important and that’s what will make you big- by helping someone else. Blowing out someone’s candle, won’t make yours shine any brighter.

So here’s the challenge we’re setting you- next time, you come to say something negative about someone, don’t and replace it with expressing kindness or a compliment. This will help them and you.

Tweet us your thoughts and experiences on this @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

Watch the video explaining how you can disarm people with kindness!

Just started a business, or thinking of starting one? Then you need to know the following basic essentials! Watch my video interview with expert Accountant Sue Towner with her top 3 tips for startups.

Hope it’s helpful. Your thoughts and questions welcomed as always- tweet us: @InspirEngage/ @Melody_Hossaini

Startup and Stilettos: Social Media Bootcamp- Class of July 2014!

We’re living in a world of hashtags, follow and share! It’s difficult for any business starting up today to be successful without the powers of social media. Through social media you can network, promote and learn for free- this is why InspirEngage International designed a brand new course for our Startup and Stilettos programme: The Social Media Bootcamp.

We piloted this in June 2014 to over-subscribed numbers and saw some really valuable results. Having just delivered to another group of diverse adult women, we wanted to share some of the insights gained both in this video and text below.


The Social Media Bootcamp: The Bootcamp was a 3 day residential hosted by our partners Hillcroft College in London (the only residential women-only college in the country), and focused on components such as what social media is, the good and bad sides of it as well as creating a personal brand online around your particular message. This set the foundation because everyone uses social media differently and instead of just getting on and posting everything and anything on there, it’s important to consider what your purpose is and what you want your message to be. The ladies found this particularly useful.

On day 2, we moved onto the nitty gritty of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook groups/pages. We showed, told and helped them to all create accounts and get started! Afterwards, one of the ladies said that, had we not forced her to create an account within the room, she probably would have never done it. InspirEngage mentor Adam Knight, Founder of Astonish Email (an e-marketing tool for small businesses), who are partners of this Bootcamp came along and helped the ladies on their journey of social media discover.

By day 3, the ladies were ready to be set their social media task, and worked in mixed groups to put together and present their social media strategy, bringing together everything they had learned.

The Insight and Feedback: We saw that amongst adult women, there was a general fear of social media. A lot referred to their children being ‘obsessed’ with social media or had heard of cases where people had pretended to be someone else, and were afraid of those implications on their lives. The key thing we got across at the start was that social media is there to be used to suit you!

The other fear commonly held is around privacy. For some, it;s understandable if the ladies are vulnerable and fleeing from domestic abuse etc (which we handle with care). For others, it’s more a fear of being so accessible and visible- which of course is the whole point of social media! We had to help create a whole new culture and attitude towards sharing online, connected to business.

Outcomes! They all got there and we were so pleased with their transformation by the end of the course! Here are some of their feedback:

  • ‘Another fantastic weekend full of learning with a bunch of lovely ladies. I’ve just finished a long conversation with a dear friend who is a life coach, author and business consultant telling her all about it and she wants to “employ” me to set up her social media marketing strategy. After today I had the confidence to say yes I can do that! Thank you so much! X’
  • ‘I found it a very inspiring, interesting and uplifting experience – I learned to set up my business and social media accounts!’ Kate
  • ‘Melody and Adam really kick started a revolution of inspiring and engaging us, a group of very diverse women adult learners at Hillcroft College.’ Zoe
  • ‘It has been invaluable for my startup business and how it’s seen online’ Elizabeth
  • ‘Very inspirational and uplifting’ Juliette
  • ‘This was a liberating experience for me’

It’s apparent that if we want to support more women into business, then a greater focus and support should be there for social media also, as the two are entwined.

If you’re interested in our programmes or want to book the Bootcamp to deliver it for your groups, email: info@inspirEngage.com and follow on twitter: @StartupStiletto / @InspirEngage


Video made by MFT Media.


End of Year blog- goodbye 2013- hello 2014.

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

Vital stats:

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

Number of years being a CEO: 4.5

Number of years being a wife: 1

Number of children: 0

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Happy new year from all of us at InspirEngage International.

Melody Hossaini- Founder & CEO, InspirEngage International.

31st December 2013

@Melody_Hossaini / @InspirEngage


As we approach Exam Results, I’m exploring the damaging impact of negative terminalogy and headlines on young people. Much more than a couple of imperfect grades. In many ways, it’s the best time to think innovatively about your career- why are we not highlighing that?

Imagine if you were a young person, nervous about receiving your exam grades, wondering what steps to take next and all you read are headlines such as; “Poor exam grades crush young people’s ambition” and “thousands will struggle to compete, leaving them hopeless and jobless.” (BBC News, 13 August- pictured). And thanks to social media, you could see the same headline 20 times a day, which really becomes engrained in your mind.

Would it motivate you and organisations who work with young people to feel inspired to act? Or would it just further confirm a fear and play a part in creating a gloomy reality for many? I can’t help but to think it’s the latter unfortunately.

I tweeted on Monday, on International Youth Day, saying; ‘Let’s be VERY careful about terminology we use to describe young people. Keep hearing ‘L*ST GENER***ON’. Does damage & adhere to label.’ We’re going through a change in the economy and the business world is being turned on its head- and it’s young people who are leading the way with Social Enterprise, so why are they lost? Would it be, perhaps, that we keep drumming into their heads that they are?

We play a part in creating a reality for young people- and with that comes a responsibility. Of course exam results affect young people (I, myself cried my eyes out as I didn’t get the grades I wanted at A-level), but it’s up to us to highlight different options instead of emphasising the doom! Young people have more options than ever for their career path- more accessible apprenticeships, enterprise, social enterprise and start-up funding options and much more!

Having said that, it has to be the right choice for that individual. I read this week that, 1.8m Brits plan to start their own ‪‎business‬ in the next 5 years (source, Rea Business). This is only good if that’s what they actually want to do as opposed to it being ‘sexy’ at the moment. University was an auto-pilot path for young people. Let’s not make business the new path fit for ‘everyone’! It’s not! It’s an option. Young people should choose what’s right for them.

With millions of students across the country receiving their exam results this week, I find myself considering the messages we’re giving young people and what they should be thinking when it comes to making career choices. Our role should be to emphasise the opportunities and role-models who have succeeded despite what some consider ‘failures’ and support young people to develop their sense of personal identity in order to make a very informed decision about the right career path for them.

I also feel the parents play an important role in this. You want the best for your children, but have faith- allow them to explore, to fall and follow their passion. You CAN make it a career!

The most important thing we can rob young people of is not an A grade, but a healthy and positive mindset. That’s much harder to fix.

Good luck to everyone getting their results- whatever it states on the piece of paper, you have options and lots of time to make it happen! Tweet us @InspirEngage or myself on @Melody_Hossaini and let us know how you did and what you plan to do!

Melody Hossaini.

Founder and CEO, InspirEngage International

Social Enterprise

Building confidence in young people


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

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

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

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

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

how to develop confidence and be successful

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

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

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

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

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


To keep up to date with new posts, videos and opportunities- email us at info@inspirEngage.com with subject ‘add me’ in order to be added to our mailout :)

To book Melody Hossaini as a speaker- email info@inspirEngage.com

Ever looked at successful people and wondered, what it is that makes them successful. It’s based on one thing (well, to be fair, probably a myriad of things covering timing, hard work and lots of factors, but generally speaking!)- and that’s MINDSET.

Was just catching up with our lovely InspirEngage Ambassadors- and something one of them said, made me think. She explained how her confidence & skills have grown substantially through extra-curricular activities. The fact that through school, she used to be very shy, however, through volunteering for things, going along to things which, at first, frightened her and perhaps were out of her comfort zone, she’s grown.

It emphasised something I’ve always believed in- It’s so important to say YES to things, to show up & get involved! That’s how u grow. It’s no good moaning and saying that the school system, Government & society aren’t preparing u. You have to PREPARE YOURSELF! Seek experiences & opportunities in life, and when you find it- show up, even when it’s uncomfortable and you’re unsure of the exact benefit.

Of course, the role of Government and educational establishments are key- that’s why InspirEngage International is there! However, the support that schools, Government and parents can offer can be limited. You have to adopt a mindset that no one owes you anything. Yes, the UK has seen better days, but we live in a country that presents endless opportunities- if u WANT it. May not happen overnight… but it starts with saying yes and showing up.

And here’s the bottom line: Life will only give you, what you put in.
Give more of yourself to it- and you’ll be amazed with the benefits.

Tweet me: @Melody_Hossainior