IMAN Leaders Win WIEF Grant

IMAN Board Member Seemi Choudry and Leader Sadia Nawab were both selected to attend the World Islamic Economic Forum (WIEF) Young Fellows Programme 2012, a six-day intensive leadership program targeted for young “change-makers” all over the world, comprising a diverse range of people from fresh graduates, young entrepreneurs, civil society leaders, community workers, researchers and junior professionals, who have the seed of an idea that they want to help nurture into a real project for their respective communities.  The two traveled to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and represented IMAN at the program that started on September 9.  Nawab’s project at the program won approximately $6.5K in funding, and she will be working with others in her group from around the world to implement that project over the next few months.

The WIEF was created to enhance the economic well-being of Muslim communities worldwide through increasing trade and business opportunities amongst them, as well as the world at large, and to strengthen networking and foster strategic alliances through the exchange of ideas, information and knowledge.
The Young Fellows Programme is intended to nurture a leadership concept in young people that focuses on overall human growth, including management, entrepreneurship, environmental and social awareness, and the spiritual well-being of an individual.  It is tailored to not only implant a leadership mentality amongst its participants, but to also inculcate the culture of working as a team, and the sharing of ideas with the wider network to achieve common goals and aspirations.

The WIEF program only accepts two fellows from each country, but a special exception was made for the U.S. so that both the IMAN leaders can be accepted.  Here are reflections by Choudry and Nawab after attending the program:

Sadia Nawab: The WIEF conference was beyond invigorating. I learned about project management, marketing, Islamic finance, environmental sustainability and other topics from social entrepreneurs, CEOs of top-performing Malaysian companies and banks, and from others in the field of social enterprise. The skills were practical and implemented immediately as our groups were assigned to create a business and pitch our model amongst a panel of judges; in fact, my group won approximately $6.5K to initiate a social enterprise that provides profit-sharing financing to small businesses. Our group of 23 fellows from over 13 countries worldwide really bonded over the week. One of the most meaningful skills I will take away from this program is the development of leadership from within oneself, which we learned in workshops and also from the example of our amazing organizers and facilitators. Seemi and I were so inspired from this conference that we will be conducting a series of workshops ourselves to share the skills we learned with others. Stay tuned for them as they will be held in early November!

Seemi Choudry: The WIEF Young Fellows Program certainly surpassed all of my expectations. Not only were we able to connect with young leaders from fifteen countries around the world, we also had the unique opportunity of strengthening our personal and professional skills to become successful social entrepreneurs in the fast-paced world that we live in. I feel extraordinarily blessed to have been a part of this group of pioneers. Our closing slideshow used John Mayer’s song “Waiting on the World to Change” as the soundtrack. However, I respectfully contend, we aren’t waiting; we are already changing the world!

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