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Latham & Watkins host great business breakfasts.  Today, I was privileged to present at one they hosted with Financial Women Association, a NY based organization.  The panel included Shimi Shah, Lucy Chow and Heather Henyon, representing the colorful women-led business enterprise landscape. The panelists offered their insights on the professional environment, and how it helps or hinders female entrepreneurship.

I shared my thoughts in my area of interest: Arab women entrepreneurs working on Social Enterprise and Social Media Ventures.

The highlight for me was having Muna AlHareb and Nojoud AlBasktaki in the audience.  The two founders of Buksha, a sustainable cultural & volunteer tourism venture that won the Business Acumen for Good competition last Saturday. A few years ago, I spoke about the need for women in the GCC to take on social challenges and address them…

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Leadership Bridge Programme updates!

The Leadership Bridge Programme, organized by the YAL Bahrain and 3BL Associates brought together over 50 Bahraini youth representing public and private schools to address challenges within their society.

Rama Chakaki, CEO of Baraka Ventures, who helped the students brainstorm their own social action projects, was ‘amazed by their creativity and imagination,’ as she shared on her facebook wall. ‘Bahrain youth ROCK!!’

The teams of students designed strategies to address the following:

  • supporting the Down’s syndrome community
  • listing issues of water pollution, women’s rights, bullying
  • engaging youth with preserving cultural heritage
  • encouraging interaction with the older generation
  • reviving traditional outdoor games with modern electronic games

Please read through the following articles for more information about the success of the event

http://www.ameinfo.com/279103.html

http://www.dt.bh/newsdetails.php?key=160611183818&newsid=241011235439

2011 NYUAD International Hackathon

The universities in the region are surprising us with a growing interest in their youth’s exposure to entrepreneurship practices, innovation and collaboration through a series of highly creative events, a very promising sign.

The 2011 NYUAD International Hackathon, an event for social good in the Arab world will bring together computer science students with academics and technology experts from the region and beyond between October 27-30, at the NYU Abu Dhabi campus.

A team leader from the academic and technology experts will guide and mentor the students, who will compete through creating mobile and web applications dedicated to social good in the region. A panel of judges which includes Rama Chakaki, cofounder and CEO of Baraka Ventures, will then review these applications. Rama will also speak in an Q&A session about entrepreneurship in the Arab world, Baraka Ventures and other startups for social good.

To learn more about the event or to participate (nominate a student, mentor, lead a team, or apply as a judge or speaker), please visit the following website http://nyuad.nyu.edu/institute/hackathon-2011.html

Youth Leadership Bridge Program

The Gulf is booming with new social initiatives and programs. There is much opportunity in the region and it is very exciting to be a part of.

Take the 3-day Youth Leadership Bridge Program to be held in Bahrain from 20-22 October, a good example of these types of initiatives.

A group of 50 high school students will be learning about ethical leadership and leading through social impact. Co-organized by 3BL Associates and the Bahrain Chapter of the Young Arab Leaders, the program aims to introduce the students to social enterprise and then help them come up with their own social action project to address local, regional or global social issues.

Our own Rama Chakaki would be speaking about social enterprise and the Baraka ventures. Rama will also help these students brainstorm their own social action projects, engaging and inspiring the young minds.

Great initiative, looking forward to hear the outcomes!

Venture Capital in the Middle East and North Africa Report

The lack of comprehensive reporting on the MENA’s venture capital scene has left many aspiring entrepreneurs in the dark. With a new report published on the MENA Private Equity Association’s website, many would regard this as a relief. This document highlights the definition of venture capital, mentions some of the challenges, and lists the venture capital players in the region.

Baraka Ventures and two other organizations have been mentioned in this report as social venture capital, along with many other firms, angel seed and investment, incubators and technology parks, etc.

Please view the Venture Capital in the Middle East and North Africa report on http://www.menapea.com/research-association.php

Characteristics of a Social Entrepreneur – Humble

Picture 6A wonderful Arabic poem uses a metaphor to describe humble individuals; they appear like stalks of wheat, bending and weighted down by the abundance of the wheat grain they carry.  This is contrasted with the empty stalks that are blowing in the wind, raised high, due to their emptiness.

ملىء السنابل تنحني بتواضعٍ   والفارغاتُ رؤوسهن شوامخُ

In recent months, I’ve come across many social and environmental entrepreneurs in the Middle East and the US. Without exception, they were all rich in experience and knowledge in their field. Some traveled to places I only dream of, others read books I find intimidating. Some met heads of state, received numerous degrees, awards and honors from reputable institutions worldwide.  And without exception, they are all humble.

They are eager to learn about others rather than brag about their accomplishments. What I find encouraging is that social and environmental entrepreneurs are bringing a new face to business.  While not all men and women in mainstream business practice are lacking humility, traditionally corporate cultures, corporate structures and brand confidence advocated a degree of snobbery, or a pride in belonging to an establishment/organization. Overtime, people forget their individual worth and exhibit a strange sense of pride and snobbery for their association with their institutions.  I stress, this doesn’t no apply to all, but it is certainly present and more so in some industries than others.

The humility social and environmental entrepreneurs exhibit draws people to them. Collaborators, supporters, and recipients of their good work rally around them and spread the message of their work far and wide. They rarely need to self-promote or spend excessively on marketing and PR activities.  The next time you’re in the presence of one, observe!

15 Mind-Boggling Green Facts & Statistics

The good news is that we’re measuring things – what you can’t measure, you can’t manage – but we have to start doing more than just hope that the numbers will change

http://webecoist.com/2008/11/26/amazing-frightening-green-facts-environmental-statistics/

The Baraka Entrepreneurship Forumla

Entrepreneurship = Inspiration + Information + Perspiration

Entrepreneurship – The Starting Point

Inspire

You are a panel committee member evaluating business plans of budding entrepreneurs.  The first contestant comes forth, introduces herself and her business .. she recounts the degrees she earned, the awards she received, the companies she worked in and the titles she had during her years of service. She presents facts, figures and a robust competitive business plan rich with analysis.

Another entrepreneur tells a story of passion, trials and tribulations, self-exploration, and a realization of a calling, a dream that persisted to bring about a change… a seed sown in early childhood or adolescence and sprouting day by day through a rich life journey.  She proceeds to support her story with a business plan presenting facts, admitting to shortcomings, that she expects to address through collaboration.

Who do you support?

To be entrepreneurial you must have a vision… to have a vision, you must be inspired… to be inspired, means to be living in spirit.

  • How does one live  in spirit?
  • How does inspiration impact business?
  • Does having information through a robust business plan suffice?
  • Do you care to see and hear the passion and see it come through?
  • What happens when the imperfections of life and variables of market conditions test the plan?
  • Does the inspired or informed entrepreneur manage adversity and business challenges better?