Posts filed under ‘Ethical Business’

The Power of the Desert


By Abubaker Adam

I came across a wonderful article on BBC News today looking at potential plans for the energy supply around Europe. The plan – to use desert power to supply up to 100% of local needs and up to 15% of European demand by 2050.

The article made me think of the benefit this will bring to the poor and destitute across Northern and Sub-Saharan Africa. The reality is that some of the poorest nations on earth across Africa and some parts of Asia enjoy an abundance of sunshine. In some Middle East countries the sun can shine up to 15 hours per day.

In my view the most underdeveloped countries do not require handout or regular donations; they have the skills, natural assets and willingness to change their lives forever. They require respect, recognition and the opportunity to show what they are capable of producing for humanity.

International relief organisations and NGOs need to invest in such technology and initiatives with key strategic partners and build infrastructures that are sustainable, manageable and cost effective; and in the regions in which they work.

If desert power helps relieve poverty and helps build nations, it can be a wise long term investment for large NGO’s and governments. It this is successful, I believe this will change the humanitarian landscape and can see the eradication of poverty by the end of the century. All NGOs and governments need to do is shift the focus from handouts to investment.  As the old Bedouin saying goes,” you will be surprised what you find in the desert?”

December 6, 2011 at 3:22 pm Leave a comment

This time next year…

By Abubaker Adam

Only Fools and Horses was a British sitcom, created and written by John Sullivan in the 1980s. Set in Peckham, South London, it followed an ambitious market trader Del Boy Trotter and his brother Rodney in their humorous trials in order to get rich quick.

Various schemes included buying and selling a variety of low-quality goods, such as Russian Army camcorders, luminous yellow paint and horse riding helmets. Their company “Trotters Independent Traders” became synonymous with a three wheeled Robin Reliant.

You may be thinking, why am I highlighting a famous sitcom from years gone by?

Many start-up charities have one goal when they start their work – raise as much money as you can – in effect a get rich quick mentality.

We have to encourage charities to shift from this mentality. Their first goal should be to deliver; deliver to their beneficiaries; deliver their promises to their donors; deliver their social values to their community.

I believe that charity work is built on four wheels of success – transparency, communications, integrity and delivery. If any of these four wheels are not correctly administered, then you will be life with three wheels like the Trotter’s Robin Reliant which runs at limited speed.

We should all live by the values of working professionally and transparently, not cutting corners or speeding through to reach our goals (see below).

December 1, 2011 at 12:32 pm Leave a comment

What’s in an office?

By Mohammad Shakir

An office can be anywhere; a dedicated room at home, a large building with a lobby and nice sofas, or a simple converted house. An office, much like most things in life, is what you make of it.

Zakat House offers a variety of services for small and growing charities and social businesses, such as a support unit which offers guidance, advice and resources in fundraising, governance, marketing and communications through its Charity Support Unit.

It is all well and good to have those services, but you all organisations need somewhere to work, an office space which is affordable and solely for charities and social businesses.

Between May 2010 and May 2011, 8,000 charities closed down and were removed from the Charity Commission’s register. It is clear that the charity sector is need of support. Affordable office space combined shared resources such as the support unit can be vital to the helping those smaller and newer charities a foot up in staying open and achieving their charitable objectives.

Zakat House is excited to announce that they will be offering affordable office space from their new premises near Tottenham Court Road. The building, will offer affordable office solutions, conference and meeting rooms all with excellent transport links to major London train stations and airports. This charity hub in London can help the charity sector weather the current tough economic climate.

P.S Here are some images of the new building!


September 6, 2011 at 9:58 am Leave a comment

Youth in Europe: From fiction to reality

As I am sure you are aware, Zakat House is based in London, UK. Yes, we have an office and staff at a certain location, but the Zakat House concept or model is bigger than that.

It is an idea that can transcend borders and be a model that can work in any community. Our values are universal values. Many, if not all of the articles in the EU Convention on Human Rights are important to the way Zakat House helps charities and communities. In tandem with Islamic values, the Zakat House model can help all parts of the community in all countries ranging from Norway to Portugal.

Zakat House attended FEMYSO’s European Muslim Youth Conference, which brought together around 100 different young European Muslims under one roof. The activities varied from talks, discussions, debates and workshops. The spirit of unity was amazing with all attendees representing youth charities in their respective countries which deal with various issues from crime prevention to alcohol abuse across the wider community. They all have to be congratulated not just for attending and being active but for tackling such enormous social challenges that developed countries cannot even resolve.

Zakat House introduced the concept of social entrepreneurship and how Islam fosters such action for humanity. Amazing ideas came about as a result of the intense workshops on topics including solving alcohol problems in Sweden, educational issues in France and green initiatives in Germany to reduce the strain on the environment.

July 5, 2011 at 12:10 pm Leave a comment

Social Business Day

By Mohammad Shakir

Today, 28th June 2011 marks the second Social Business Day. Created by Muhammad Yunus and his organsiation, The Yunus Centre, it is a day where the world can come together and learn about the latest innovations about social business and celebrate what has already taken place in the field.

The theme for this year is “Achieving the Millennium Development Goals through Social Business” The Millennium Development Goals are as follows:

Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education

Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women

Goal 4: Reduce child mortality rates

Goal 5: Improve maternal health

Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases

Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability

Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development

Now  I get the feeling that you are wondering, how can a social business achieve those even one of the above goals? Here is an example:

The Iko Toilets in Kenya are changing communities in Nairobi by offering something more than just a simple public toilet. The toilets are offering jobs for cleaners, a confectionery store and a shoe shine spot where people can get their shoes polished. It is the type of social business that can most definitely work to achieve Goal 1 by creating jobs through which people can feed themselves and Goal 7  because there would be a safe place for people to use the bathroom with a proper sewage system ensuring that the local environment is used for crops rather than waste. Discussions to expand the IKO network to neighbouring villages and cities thus achieving Goal 8. You see where we are coming from?

Social businesses have the potential to make a positive impact on a persons’ life. No matter how small or big it can create change that will last.

The questions is respected reader are you a spectator or part of the solution towards the goal, if you have  an interesting idea that will help someones life. Let us know on

June 28, 2011 at 2:29 pm Leave a comment

The Social Apprentice: Home or Abroad?

Time to seize the moment and make that difference

By Abubaker Adam and Mohammad Shakir

For those of you who saw The Apprentice on Wednesday evening , you would have seen Lord Sugar send his business hopefuls across the Channel to test their business acumen, and negations and guile on foreign soil. The task is – to sell British made products to the French market.

Let us give you a parallel: a social entrepreneur can create a successful concept that is applicable amongst communities in the UK, after making a profound impact on the community, they will then export it abroad to impact and improve communities all around the world. Lord Sugar, eat your heart out!

Let’s give you an example. London Street Food Bank gets its supply of food from daily outlets which are unsold. It then distributes it at different distribution points around London to the homeless and hungry. It gets food from restaurants and receives donations from other companies that supply food and drink. This type of enterprise could be exported to any other city or town within the UK or around the world to help the hungry and homeless that are everywhere. Any ideas anyone?

Imagine if your Zakat donations went towards helping a social enterprise that will make an impact on local communities in the UK. Sometimes we forget that there are people on our doorstep that require our help and donations. Zakat, Sadqaah, small giving, are all important reminder of how lucky we are. After all this is our role as Muslims – help those in need across humanity.

Let us give you another example. You may be able to make you Zakat go further by supporting a social enterprise that is helping the poor in the UK as they will have the foundations to replicate this  model abroad in the developing world.

You donation will pay for skills and experience that these social enterprises can replicate the world over and take their idea, pound for pound further and wider.

Whatever you give, no matter how small, can start a revolution. Give us your comments below. You never know you could be starting a revolution right here, right now!

*As a side note, in the true spirit of collaboration Abubaker and I decided to write this blog together over Google Docs. Believe me, it is an experience I have never gone through before!

June 24, 2011 at 2:34 pm Leave a comment

Not only in our dreams Part 1

Patience is a virtue, only few can master.

Delivered by Dr. Hany El Banna, Chairman of Zakat House, at the world Economic Forum Annual Meetingin 2005 Davos, Switzerland,

This world has one destiny and resource. That means we have to believe in the
destiny of our brothers and sisters in China and share with them in that destiny.
So, we respond with happiness and joy if that destiny is good, and by help and
relief if that destiny is bad. A world where people in one part would feel the
pain of people in the other part; where the satiated people of the North would
feed the hungry of the South; and when people of the North go astray, the
people of the middle would guide them. When the individual anywhere becomes
needy, people from all over the world would extend their hands to help him; if
a stranger dies people would feel sad for him and children ask” Has he died out
of hunger, need or illness, while we were idling away in luxury?” If the answer is
yes, all would feel guilty.

Such is the reality imposed by the divine destiny. In some places you may find
a green rich land, whereas in others you may find a wasteland. Some people are
famous for education, some others for business, and so on and so forth, in this
world that is full of its joy and sorrow.

So, this way of life would achieve the principle of integration, and a world
which does not believe in futuristic strategies, which delays funds and efforts,
while millions of people are dying and suffering from deprivation. Nor do
they believe in inflation of bank accounts, or storing millions of tons of food
items to keep their price value, or other strategies that aim to normalise disaster,

death, illness and ignoring others’ suffering. A reality that does not believe in
monopolization of view, thought, money, human or natural resources, but
a reality that would activate all of the aforementioned, to please humanity.
A reality that does not believe in secrecy or fear of promoting new inventions,
instead shares them with other people. A reality that does not believe in
singularity, but promotes consultation and democracy.

A reality, that does not have a master and a slave, or a noble and serf, but one where all people are as equal as the teeth of a comb.

June 21, 2011 at 11:37 am Leave a comment

The Social Apprentice – Beauty on another level

By Mohammad Shakir

Previously on The Social Apprentice

So the cosmetic industry is big business. Both men and women around the world spend large amounts of money on products which make them look younger or smell better. There is nothing particularly wrong with that. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) encouraged us to perfume ourselves before we went to the mosque, so that we can smell nice amongst others while we are praying.

How about we look at the bigger picture? There is much beauty around us – architecture, nature and wildlife, to name a few. Our communities are also a source of much beauty where we can find people working together to make it a better place for everyone.

This is at the heart of what Zakat House wants to achieve. There are people in different parts of the world that are suffering, but we have to make sure that we don’t ignore those people and communities that are on our doorsteps.

There is much beauty to be found in people from different backgrounds coming together. Additionally, imagine if someone invents or adapts a product or service which can improve a community or help the impoverished in a country abroad.

Achieving beauty comes in many forms. It is up to you to choose in which way to achieve it.

May 31, 2011 at 2:14 pm Leave a comment

Can you be the next Social Apprentice?

ByMohammad Shakir The Apprentice is one of the more popular shows on television. 16 candidates head to London to battle out for a job with a six figure salary, or in the case of the current series, a £250,000 investment into a joint business venture between Lord Alan Sugar and the winner of the series. Imagine that level of investment in a social project which would work for society’s benefit! £250,000 can go towards a community run organisation that gives trainee chefs the opportunity to work in a restaurant or a development trust aiming to regenerate their local community through working with the private and public sector.

The so called “Social apprentice” will be a creative person who will change their life and others’ around him in real time and in tandem with the current finical burdens families and people of the UK go through in a daily basis.

In times of recession, having an idea or a product which can help you and people in your community can be like striking a gold mine by accident. Not only can it help your finances, you can get a sense of joy by helping yourself and others in your community.  This is unity as it should be and the giving back to your local community is a good starting point.

So if you are sitting in a comfy chair and watching tonight’s Apprentice on BBC 1, have think of what you can do being as Social Apprentice to help your community.  You never know, it could actually be you.   So, as Lord Sugar puts it after 12 weeks: You’re hired!

Get on your bike and get going!

May 25, 2011 at 3:05 pm 3 comments

The Joseph Formula part 2

By Dr. Hany El-Banna

Last week we told you the story of Prophet Joseph and his rise to become the Minister of Finance and Development in Egypt. This came after interpreting the king’s dreams and prophesising seven years of good harvest followed by seven years of drought and famine. Part of his responsibilities was to navigate Egypt through the drought and famine.

We will be looking at this through four key principles: leadership qualities, storing of agricultural stock & proper planning, relief distribution of food rations and the revitalisation of the local & regional market economy.

Leadership Qualities

During the first seven years, Prophet Joseph, the King and his soldiers never consumed full rations. Joseph took to eating only one full meal per day in order to save more food for other people. People from nearby countries affected by droughts learned of his wisdom and sense of justice.

They came to beg food from Egypt, which was considered at that time to be their global market for food supply and fair trade. Egypt benefited financially from Prophet Joseph’s fairness, justice and honesty.

Storing of agricultural stock & proper planning

Egypt would not have been able to have go through this period without a sound plan. Crops such as wheat, barley and rice were the main crops in the region. An important point which is raised in the Qur’an is that “for seven consecutive years, you shall sow as usual and that (the harvest) which you reap you shall leave in its ears, (all) except a little of it which you may eat” (12:47). The reason to keep the crops in their ears was two-fold, protecting the seeds from being eaten by insects and protecting the seeds from damp and other weather conditions.

The crops were also split into two categories: crops to be consumed during the prosperous years and crops to be stored. The crops that were store were further split into another two categories:

  • Those which might be needed by the people because of drought and famine.
  • Needed for future plantation. These crops would be left untouched even during the famine, because this was considered the life line of the generations to come.

Relief distribution of food rations

The famine didn’t only affect Egypt other surrounding areas, what we now know as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel, & Palestine, came to Egypt upon hearing of their fair and just minister for finance and development to seek help and trading opportunities.

Prophet Joseph gave all an equal measure of rations – one camel’s load worth – and prevented profiteers from making money out of this disaster and buying more than their fair share.

Revitalisation of the local & regional market economy

While people came from afar to seek food and help from Egypt, Prophet Joseph wasn’t giving the food away for free. It was given in exchange for other goods, such as animal skins, wool, woven materials, desert seeds and crops as well as what money they had.

These commodities enriched the Egyptian local market and revitalised its economy because such goods were recycled and sold again.

The outcome of this process was:

a.       Creating more low skilled jobs

b.       Revitalising and energising public initiatives

c.        Improving the quality of the imported materials before being exported again

d.       Encouraging the small scale businesses to grow locally and regionally.

e.       Opening new local markets and industries

f.        Having fair and just trade between Egypt (the centre of global economy) and the poor countries (famine stricken states)

From this formula it can be demonstrated that Prophet Joseph PBUH was a public leader and role model. He was an advanced economist expert and social planner, an idealist with long term realistic development programs. He was blessed with foresight and skills as a financial organiser & controller of local and regional markets as well as a quality controller of import and export. He was an adept at motivating individuals and adopting their pioneering initiatives. He revitalised local and regional trade markets as well as stabilised the principle of absolute justice and fair trade for all.

He was a human being who loved humanity and followed the heavenly directions to save it. He was a humble grassroots worker who became the minister of finance and development in the cabinet of the centre of the global economy and, ultimately he had the pulse of the people and put into practice the vision of the leaders which transformed an entire nation and region.

April 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm Leave a comment

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