UAE’s women entrepreneurs explore innovative business practices in UK

21 Aug 2019

As many as 17 selected participants of the second edition of the Badiri Social Entrepreneurship Programme (BSEP) recently visited London and Liverpool recently, on a field trip in pursuit of learning socially impactful and innovative business practices.

Launched in 2018, BSEP is the invention of both Sharjah-based NAMA Women Advancement Establishment’s education and capacity building arm, Badiri Education and Development Academy, and UK-based School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE). This collaboration in BSEP is SSE’s first endeavour into the Arab region.

The programme aims to empower and equip Emirati and UAE-based female entrepreneurs and businesswomen, above the age of 20, with the skills and knowledge required to turn their business into profitable social enterprises, through field visits and expert sessions. The participants were chosen based on a series of interviews conducted prior to the programme.

With an emphasis on practical learning, the programme’s customised curriculum had them meeting with owners of successful British social enterprises through SSE.

The London leg of the educational trip to the UK, from July 15 to 19, began with an expert session by Nicola Steuer, Managing Director, SSE, which gave the participants an overview of social entrepreneurship in UK. This was followed by a session with multiple award-winning social entrepreneur Heidi Fisher. Through her inspirational story, Fisher introduced the participants to impact assessment and interactively engaged them in a series of exercises to help them better understand how to identify their own impact.

The participants also visited The Brigade, a highly successful social enterprise in Tooley Street, London, where they met their mentors and were inspired by their interaction with the beneficiaries.

Next on the participants’ visit list was Peckham Levels where a series of revamped parking levels have now been converted into a hub where creative people, looking for an enabling work space, can come together. They were introduced to a range of social entrepreneurs who address a variety of social and environmental issues. They also assessed the impact of the project, tools and metrics used to measure it.

The highly acclaimed, award-winning social entrepreneur, Cemal Ezal, took the participants to Borough Market to evaluate his social enterprise, Change Please, in action.

After another site visit to Sunnyside Rural Trust, a charity and social enterprise offering training and work experience to vulnerable people, expert Jen Mackay introduced the participants to the importance of clear communication and storytelling through a practical session involving a series of exercises that helped them develop compelling narratives for their own organisations.

The second part of the tour, which took place in Liverpool from July 22 to 26, included expert sessions on finance with: Liz Pepler of Community Counts; on marketing and social media for social enterprises with Grace Dyke of Yellow Jigsaw; Claire Dove OBE, Crown Representative for the Voluntary and Community Sector and the founder of the Blackburne House Group. Site visits to the social enterprises Baltic Creative CIC, Homebaked, education provider Blackbourne House and artist Grace Harrison’s non-profit Kitty’s Laundrette were also part of the tour.

The participants then gathered and shared their experiences in Liverpool to develop marketing plans for their own social enterprises.

As a finale to their Liverpool learning experience, Blackburne House hosted a networking dinner, with leading female social entrepreneurs from the SSE Fellowship Network and the Blackburne House Women’s Leadership Network, for the UAE entrepreneurs. Guest speakers shared their social enterprise stories during the occasion.

Reem BinKaram, Director of NAMA Women Advancement Establishment, highlighted the importance of field visits for BSEP participants. She said: “Social enterprises thrive on the unique dynamic of being socially conscious. Project visits and field trips form the core of BSEP as learning from other people’s experiences is the most successful way to absorb the necessary learning outcomes. Such hands-on learning allows participants to explore the diverse world of social enterprise, evaluate their social enterprise idea, design their model, apply it in the market, assess sources of funding and investment and measure the social impact of their enterprise.”

She added: “Entrepreneurs are likely to get highly caught up in mundane day-to-day activities while trying to enhance a social enterprise, which they sometimes cannot see the bigger picture for. Taking some time out to polish their social entrepreneurial skills through the BSEP will give them the tools and the opportunity to develop ways to improve their project by incorporating profitability in order to create a positive social impact.”

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