Posts filed under ‘Social Enterprise’

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

Zakat Hosue at FOSIS Annual Conference

By Abubaker Adam

I spent most of my weekend at FOSIS’s 48th Annual Conference which was held in Cardiff. The journey – by train – was picturesque as I reflected on the presentation that I would be giving that afternoon. Zakat House had been invited to present at one of the fringe sessions on social entrepreneurship.

The presentation covered social entrepreneurship and Islamic examples of social enterprises. Many inventions or discoveries from the Arab world have gone on change the world such as soap or medical treatments for kidney stones or the use of silk thread to sew wounds. I also showed a video about Muhammad Yunus’s micro financing project Grameen Bank which provided banking services to the poor.

The session was very well attended and I received feedback from all the participants on everything from wanting to know more about Zakat House and how to get involved, to wanting more information about social enterprises and how can more students get involved.

Overall I enjoyed presenting Zakat House and the concept of social entrepreneurship to students, a group that I may not usually get a chance to interact with. I would like to thank FOSIS for inviting me to present at the conference and look forward seeing many students come up with innovative ideas which can help humanity in the future.

June 20, 2011 at 11:41 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

The Joseph Forumla: Part 1

Field of Corn

By Dr. Hany El-Banna and Mohammad Shakir

Whether you have read the Qur’an, Old Testament or seen the Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice musical; most of us know about the story of Joseph. To give you a quick recap – Joseph was the 11th of 12 brothers borne to Jacob. God had given Joseph the gift of foresight and prophecy, specifically the ability to interpret dreams.

This ability made his other brothers jealous and they plotted to kill him. Using the excuse of taking Joseph out to play, the brothers took him and left him in a well to be picked up by travellers upon the urging of one of the brothers. Joseph’s brothers took his shirt and stained it with blood and went back to their father Jacob, claiming that Joseph had been attacked by a wolf. Jacob didn’t believe this.

While in the well he was picked up travellers who sold him into slavery in Egypt. Joseph excelled at his job and soon caught the eye of his master’s wife. She tried to seduce him and when he declined her advances he prayed to God that he would rather be put in prison than succumb to her advances. His prayers were answered.

During his time in prison, his ability to interpret dreams became of use as he interpreted the dreams of two servants from the royal household, one which had a dream about pressing grapes into wine and the other dreamt about birds eating from a basket of bread he was holding. Joseph interpreted that the wine maker would go free and would serve the king, but the servant holding the baskets of bread would be executed through crucifixion and that birds would eat from his head.

This came to pass and the dreams came true. Joseph asked the servant that was free to tell the king of his plight in prison, but he forgot to and Joseph spent and longer time in jail.

The king, however had a dream of seven fat cows being eaten by seven skinny ones and seven ears of corn being replaced with shrivelled ones, but none of his advisor’s could interpret it. This gave the king much worry. When the servant who was released from prison heard of the king’s dreams, he remembered Joseph and the king sent him to the prison to relate his dreams to Joseph.

Joseph told the servant that Egypt would face seven years of prosperity and then suffer seven years of famine and that king should prepare for it so as to avoid great suffering. The king asked to see Joseph, but he asked that his name was cleared before he would speak to the king. The king cleared Joseph of any wrong doing after meeting with the women who had lusted after him.

Joseph gained the king’s trust and confidence and was eventually put in charge of the Egypt’s warehouses to store food during the seven years of prosperity to prepare for the seven years of famine.

In the next part Dr. Hany El-Banna will look at how Joseph’s prophecy lead to the concept of the long term sustainability for Egypt and what lessons we can learn from it.

April 14, 2011 at 4:25 pm Leave a comment

Success (re) defined

Success is a journey, not a destination. We are excited once we are on the wave, anticipating what’s going to happen next and holding our breath for the thrill. When the journey is over and the wave reaches the shore, we start to plan for the next one to go on board with the pursuit of reliving the thrills.

To most of us, the meaning of the word ‘Success’ is shaped by the world we live in, wrapped up with items and ‘because you deserve it’ quotes. What makes more sense is the understanding that success is wrapped up with how you see yourself and your ability in enjoying your life. Money can be seen s a component of success, as financial freedom is important.

However, apart from that, we need:

Peace of mind: Freedom from fear, worry, anger and guilt. Some seek peace of mind through faith, some through money, others in relationships, and others in work. Success, no matter how you define it, must have peace of mind in the mix; otherwise your success will be bland and watered down.

Health: Maintaining one’s health is important for the enjoyment of success. In retrospect, being free from habits that disregard our bodies is success on a holistic level.

Loving relationships: What is success without someone to share it with? It doesn’t have to be a spouse or your children; it can be parents, friends, children, or other family members. Making quality time for family is necessary for feeling successful.

Financial freedom: You don’t have to be ‘rich’, just being able to pay your bills, feed your family, and put a roof over your heads is enough to live a decent and good life.

Smart goals: Knowing what you want in life, what your purpose is – my purpose is to work in charity; hers is to teach, his to become a consultant and theirs to sing and so on. Only then can you set your goals, when you know and understand yourself.

Self fulfillment: If you do what you love and you love what you do; then what you do is vital and of importance. Being all that you can be, feeling that you are important and that what you do matters. Knowing that you do the right things for the right reasons. If you have all the above components but feel unfulfilled and useless, you won’t really feel successful.

April 6, 2011 at 2:59 pm Leave a comment

Budgeting for success

Your Country Needs You!

With the chancellor, George Osborne, due to give his second budget speech in the House of Commons tomorrow, we thought it would be a good time to see what affect, if any, the spending cuts have had on the charity sector and what the Budget may have in store.

When talking about the third sector and the government cuts, the concept of The Big Society crops up and invariably takes over the argument. So much so, that TUC has called the called The Big Society a cover for massive public spending cuts. According to the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) the cuts have had left many charities fearful for closure with grants for projects drying up.

The NCVO have written to the Chancellor to him to take steps to ensure that the spending cuts do not disproportionately hit vulnerable people and derail the chances of achieving the Big Society. Charities have a huge role to play in the Big Society, in bringing different communities together and helping people take a more active role in their community.

Unions have also got into the game. As this blog is being written, members from the University and College Union are striking over the government cuts to their pensions. Additionally, the country’s biggest union Unite has also written to George Osborne alongside a petition, asking for changes close the £4.5 billion funding gap for the charities in the UK.

It seems that while the Big Society may have some of the answers in making the government smaller and encouraging people play a more active role in their community; charities may not be able to survive till the end of this current government, unless more attention and funds are given to many third sector organisations that are working to in the UK to support and empower communities. It seems that now more than ever, charities need help. Zakat House will be leading from the front; supporting new and growing charities reach their goals and help them help people who are in most need of help.

Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

March 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm Leave a comment

To lead to or not lead… That is the question

Today, more than any other time in history, the youth have generally been let free to live their own lives and make their own decisions. Has it really been a success? Are the youth of this country growing into men and women that are pushing the boundaries of industry and developing new ideas? Well, half of the answer is no. The other half is another question: Are they being given the opportunities to show their creativity, skill and talent?

This two sided solution can be solved through inspiration. By inspiring our youth AND giving them the opportunities to flourish, we will give them a chance to achieve and hopefully succeed. We need to leave the culture that failing is the final hurdle. We need to teach our youth that when we fall we need to pick ourselves up and learn from our mistakes, and move on.

For too long failure has been that final hurdle. Some of the greatest discoveries and achievements in history have been through things going wrong; penicillin being one example.

Overcoming adversity is the greatest lesson we can teach our youth. If we look to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as an example, he overcame many obstacles and tragedies and learnt from his mistakes to become a leader of a community. We all need positive role models, whether it is our parents or a teacher; if someone instils a positive message into our youth, they will succeed.

March 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm Leave a comment

Tips for Volunteering….Anyone?

There is no end to the creative avenues for volunteering, just as there is no end to the need for volunteers.  Sounds good huh!   Here is what you need to know about volunteering:

 1. Research the causes or issues important to you.

Look for a group that works with issues about which you feel strongly. You might already be giving money to one of these organisations, and that might be a good place to begin your volunteer experience.  

2.  Consider the skills you have to offer.
If you enjoy outdoor work, teaching, or just enjoy interacting with people, you may want to look for volunteer work that would incorporate these aspects of your personality. Many positions require a volunteer who has previous familiarity with certain equipment, such as computers, or who possesses certain skills, such as ability in athletics or communications. For one of these positions you might decide to do something comparable to what you do on the job during your workday, or something that you already enjoy as a hobby.

3.  Would you like to learn something new?

Perhaps you would like to learn a new skill or gain exposure to a new situation. Consider seeking a volunteer opportunity where you’ll learn something new. For example, volunteering to work on the newsletter will improve your writing and editing abilities – skills that may help you in your career.

4.  Combine your goals.
Look for volunteer opportunities that will also help you achieve your other goals for your life. For example, if you want to lose a few extra pounds, pick an active volunteer opportunity, such as cleaning a park or working with kids.

5.  Don’t over-commit your schedule.
Make sure the volunteer hours you want to give fit into your hectic life, so that you don’t frustrate your family, exhaust yourself, short change the organisation you’re trying to help or neglect your job. Better to start out slowly than to commit yourself to a schedule you can’t or don’t want to fulfil.

6.  Nonprofits may have questions, too.
While most nonprofits are eager to find volunteer help, they have to be careful when accepting the services you offer. If you contact an organisation with an offer to volunteer your time, you may be asked to come in for an interview, fill out a volunteer application, or describe your qualifications and your background just as you would at an interview for a paying job. It is in the organisation’s interest and more beneficial to the people it serves to make certain you have the skills needed, that you are truly committed to doing the work, and that your interests match those of the non-profit. Furthermore, in volunteer work involving children or other at-risk populations, there are legal ramifications for the organisation to consider.

7. Consider volunteering as a family.
Think about looking for a volunteer opportunity suitable for parents and children to do together, or for a husband and wife to take on as a team. When a family volunteers to work together at a non-profit organisation, the experience can bring them closer together, teach young children the value of giving their time and effort, introduce everyone in the family to skills and experiences never before encountered, and give the entire family a shared experience as a wonderful family memory.

8.  Virtual volunteering?
Yes, there is such a thing! If you have computer access and the necessary skills, some organisations now offer the opportunity to do volunteer work over the internet. This sort of volunteering might be well suited to you if you have limited time, no transportation, or a physical disability that precludes you from getting about freely. Virtual volunteering can also be a way for you to give time if you simply enjoy computers and want to employ your computer skills in your volunteer work.

 9. I never thought of that!

Many community groups are looking for volunteers, and some may not have occurred to you. Most of us know that hospitals and libraries use volunteers for a great deal of their work, but here are some volunteer opportunities that may not have crossed your mind:

10.  Give voice to your heart through your giving and volunteering!
Bring your heart and your sense of humour to your volunteer service, along with your enthusiastic spirit, which in itself is a priceless gift.

What you’ll get back will be immeasurable!  go ahead …Volunteer…

if you would like to volunteer at Zakat House please send email to

January 25, 2011 at 5:53 pm Leave a comment

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