To Najwa Sahmarani, the search for one’s mission, vocation and purpose has always been a top priority. At university, she changed major four times and thereby navigated different options. She feels lucky to have explored this issue early on and wants others to have the same opportunity.
In 2016, when she participated in the She Entrepreneurs programme, she was a few years into building up the Tripoli Entrepreneurs Club (TEC). She was also in the process of building up equity for Alkindy, a social innovation accelerator. The two projects were intertwined and even shared an office space at first.
‘I’ve attended lots of conferences and different business programmes, but She Entrepreneurs was my favourite; it was aligned with a philosophy that I had not yet discovered. At other programmes I had learned that entrepreneurship is about moving things fast and making sure you have the money.’
But Najwa had always wanted to focus on other people.
‘I had a philosophy in me but was not confident in it and had not put it into words. But at She Entrepreneurs, it became clear and articulated. It was about us as social entrepreneurs, not the idea. It was about the mindset and the values and the mission we want to work on. It gave me confidence to invest more in this philosophy of focusing on people along with the business learning.’
Early in her career, Najwa had been a part of a biomedical startup, but as it grew, she discovered that she had more interest in making sure other people knew the possibilities are there, and within reach. So she soon moved more and more into creating platforms and resources for other people to be able to explore and find the financial sustainability to deliver on their ideas.
‘I was interested in business as a discipline. Work was to me always different to the mission you have in life. Money will come once you find out where you belong. I am more interested in the question than the specificity of the startup.’
It was during the launch of Akindly that she went to Sweden for She Entrepreneurs. It gave her lots of inspiration, and she still uses the tools she picked up.
‘The programme helped my strategic thinking and it empowered me to believe in the power of social entrepreneurship. It was the start of my relationship with social enterprises and social entrepreneurs. Whether through the experts we met, mentors or other participants, it ensured me that I was on the right path. It resonated with me, and I knew I wanted to be a part of it.’
Najwa’s focus is now on growing TEC, a club that currently reaches 450 people. It has had an exponential growth and Najwa finds herself in a state of transition. Involved in both daily operations and strategizing, she is looking for a way to focus more on strategy and long-term impact. And also explore new projects that can be affiliated with TEC under the same umbrella – building a prosperous city for prosperous individuals.
‘I really loved the programme. I met my best friends there and I think it had a huge impact that no other programme could come close to. And I think it is because of the way the programme is designed. I believe in its value and power. It was a life-changing experience for me.’