Social enterprises are businesses that offer solutions and services with the aim of making a positive impact on the communities around them. One such social
enterprise is Bahrain based Warsha, with a focus on empowering and developing youth and women in communities and companies of
the MENA region.
We got in touch with Warsha’s founder, Sabeeka AlShamlan, to learn more about this initiative and how it aims to support women and young people in Bahrain and the region.
Can you tell us about Warsha and what it is? What inspired you to start this initiative?
Warsha (Arabic for workshop) is a Bahrain based social enterprise that aims at developing youth and women of the MENA region and help them achieve personal
growth through community and corporate training and empowerment programs.
I have always been passionate about community development, but it was not until I worked on a women empowerment project in Amman, Jordan with the social enterprise Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya that I saw the incredible impact that social enterprises and community organizing can have on women and youth. During my time with Ruwwad Al-Tanmeya, I worked closely with a group of 12 women. We held weekly meetings that were organically operating as a group coaching space, and resulted in ideas and initiatives in areas that the women were passionate about and could contribute to their family’s financial sustainability. After my experience in Jordan, I decided that one day I would dedicate myself to working with women and youth in Bahrain to support them in achieving their full potential. After engaging with countless youth and women throughout my professional life and volunteer work, I saw an opportunity to create a space that would allow young people and women to learn more about themselves, explore their opportunities for growth, identify challenges, express their struggles and overcome them through an interactive process of learning and healing-so I started Warsha.
How do you create your impact on young people and women in Bahrain?
In Warsha, we customize development programs with a vision; for empowered women and youth to act as drivers of positive change towards their communities and workplaces. We apply different methodologies of empowerment with organizations interested in advancing their women and youth staff through creating a gender sensitive and inclusive environment and supporting their talent development. We also work to engage with women and youth from local communities and those who were subjected to traumatic experiences directly in order to provide a safe space where they are able to overcome hardships and plan a sustainable future. We do that through customized exploration, expression and women-centric development programs.
Tell us more about those programs and the way youth and women can benefit from them
We impact women and youth through different programs that are customized either for corporates or direct community engagement. Those include:
- Coaching programs: Coaching enables people to find answers and increases their
self-awareness, the foundation is built on creating an environment where the individual
is guided toward finding the suitable solutions for their problems, instead of being told
what to do. The coaching program is delivered on an individual one-on-one basis, as well as
group coaching sessions for teams.
- Be prepared to work for free in exchange for the valuable experience and acquiring new skills. In addition, get to know the people around you and make sure they remember you.
- Training Programs: We customize a women-centric training program that covers soft skills sessions selected from a variety of areas that aim to enhance their professionalism and problem-solving skills.
- Advanced Leaders’ Programs: Programs designed for women in managerial roles to advance and progress even further in their careers. Introducing different women to leadership concepts and models that can be implemented by women leaders.
- Strategic consultation: Working with senior management on enhancing corporate culture to become gender sensitive and support equality. The consultancy services mainly aim to incorporate gender mainstreaming in working environments, supporting companies in establishing a safe and inclusive workplace for women.
What upcoming programs or initiatives from Warsha should the readers be looking forward to?
We have recently launched, in partnership with Hive Global Community for Leaders and the Global Heart Project, the first edition of Hive’s Women Leadership
Program in Bahrain for women interested in creating an impact around them. Through interactive weekly sessions, we started working with a group of active
women to launch social initiatives in areas which they are passionate about, with the aim of activating women leaders to become change agents in their
communities. The program will run in its second edition in October 2019 and we will be announcing its details on our social media channels.
We are also working closely with Obai & Hill on the Women Power Summit 2019 and planning several sessions and activities prior to and during the summit. We highly encourage women to follow the @womenpowersummit Instagram to stay up to date!
What piece of advice would you give to up and coming social entrepreneurs in Bahrain and the region?
The idea of Warsha has been on my mind for years, but I always doubted if people would support the concept and whether or not the social issues I am trying to address would even be recognized in our society. What helped me overcome these fears were the many conversations I started to have with friends and professionals that I came across. I talked about women empowerment, supporting youth, engaging with communities to almost everyone I came across. Those valuable conversations and their outcomes validated the importance of the social issues that I was addressing and it assured me that a lot of companies and communities are in need of initiatives to tackle them. The new wave of global corporate awareness of gender issues and the importance of women and youth inclusion has reached the region and I believe that the only way I came to realize that was through talking about those issue to as many people as possible, presenting my idea to them and hearing their thoughts on it. If there’s one thing I’d like to encourage social entrepreneurs to do it would be to be the advocates of their social causes and never shy away from presenting them to others. It’s an incredible learning experience, a way to test the market readiness and an opportunity to meet future clients. The amount of help and support that people would offer once you show them the impact of your initiative would positively shock you.