When Faith meets Business, the results can be truly meaningful for humanity.
London born entrepreneur, Romanna Bint-ABubaker founded Haute-Elan.com as the Net A Porter of the rest of the world, cultural inspired collections primarily for women of faith from around the world, with country specific designs for Saudi and the middle east, Turkey, Malaysia, Morocco and further.
Acquired in Feb 2019 by Indonesia’s largest ecommerce platform Haute Elan became HIJUP.
I was in venture capital and started to receive a great deal of interest from fashion start-ups who were essentially not fundable, primarily because they had no international growth/ traction/ no sustainable production and poor investment. We started by consulting to support a few but I quickly realised that the only way to create real impact was to create an e-commerce platform that would drive the global traffic searching for such products to one place and support them to combine their individual and new traffic driven by us.
“The heart of all business should have social benefit, without this for me earning money or business for the sake of it has no purpose.”
It’s what am I going to do with my money, what am I going to do with creating wealth? As a Muslim as for many others from faith backgrounds serving others is the core of our existence, when we stop serving we stop the purpose of existence. The WeAreOne foundation was originally the Women Collective which supported women in the UK through coworking facilities and resources including interest free loans, however, we realised the impact we could have here was too small.
When I travelled to Mumbai to look at manufacturing options I was astonished by the number of women begging with their children on the streets and the number of children alone begging. I discovered that it cost less than £9 to educate a child in Mumbai for one whole year and I realised that the impact we could have would be much greater here.
I decided to set-up our first workshop facility in Mumbai and hire the first master tailors, we begun taking on private label production for brands with the goal to create a sustainable non profit that operates like a commercial entity. We will produce products for global brands and hire more women off the streets, as we grow our first aim is to add a Montessori education facility, of the level we would want for our own children, so that we could ensure the women who we take off the streets are happy working and their children are taken care of to the standard we want for our own.
We are formalising legal regulations to permit us to benefit from CSR funding available to companies – they receive tax incentives to donate a compulsory % of their net profit to CSR activities, so by attracting this and corporate sponsors we can improve our facilities and add much more than for training, but language, dance, psychologists, our goal is to have a truly holistic and happy workplace. We need the support of as many brands to do this however.
“For me living has no purpose without an impact for good every day, we need to take care of the gift that the world is to us.”
I was at the Bloomberg CEO’s summit last week and the Chief of Dell showed us a slide which surmised this perfectly -I don’t want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.
If we don’t make the change and rely on others too – then nothing will change.
I want us to stand together and work on synergising, pooling together to create more impact when we stand together. If anyone else would like to support, would love them to get in touch to see how we can make the impact greater together.
Image courtesy of Hijup.co.uk
With gratitude to Romanna Bint-Abubaker for the interview.
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