SALAM : A one Million Masks Story
Salam is a social enterprise established by Safiya Ahmed Elsheikh, a medicine alumnus from Ahfad university for women (AUW), the idea showed up since she was a student, she established Mahba charity organization in 2017, the organization was focused on providing health insurance to families with limited to no income, and helping women who are imprisoned for financial crimes such as unpaid rent.
Mhaba’s work was dependent on the charity work and the financial support given by people who are interested in their work and interact with them through their social media platforms such as their Facebook page.
In the matter of help releasing women who are held for financial crimes, Safiya found out that 40% of those women end up going back to jail, because the core problem is the lack of education and skills they can use in generating income to support themselves and their families exists and still not solved, so she decided to focus on rehabilitation those women and teach them skills that can help them generate an income to support themselves and their families.
In order to achieve that Safiya joined the Social innovation fellowship provided by 249Startups and Paradaym in 2018.
“The fellowship helped me with three main things. First is training, as a person who’s coming from a charity background I didn’t know how to actually set a business plan or operate a business, second is connections, and those people who I built connections with during my training period, later on, became my clients, third and most importantly is mentoring, I’ll forever be grateful for my mentors who taught a lot, and until this date, I ask them for their business advice whenever I’m facing difficulties” | Safiya
these three elements helped her with operating her newly established business which she named Salam social enterprise.
Salam social enterprise includes 2 main brands which are HudHud, a hand made bags brand. And Salam face masks, which is a brand that was founded during COVID19 pandemic to meet the increasing demand of face masks, at the same time it helped with sustaining the business and providing the workers who are dependent on Salam as their main income resource with revenue.
SALAM Responding to COVID19
Before COVID19 Salam trained and provided job opportunities for a total of 40 ladies. During COVID19 Salam worked as a platform where it cooperated with other workshops and women who run small businesses from home, where it provided a healthy work environment and income to 300 workers.
Salam face masks collaborated with GIZ Sudan to provide 500,000 face masks that were shipped to Darfur. It also worked with the ministry of labour and social development to provide masks to neighbourhood’s committees, as well as DAL group, the ministry of health, and many other local and international organisations as well as community development initiatives.
Salam won the Canadian fund for 2020 in partnership with Care International.
Safiya’s’ advice to all young people who have business ideas is to not take a long time in perfecting the idea, Because the on-ground experience will lead to maturing the idea even further, also, “resilience is very important, you’re going to face a lot of difficulties so it’s important to rebalance quickly and cope with challenges” she said. Most importantly surround yourself with supportive people and of course mentorship is vital.
This Article had been developed by 249Startups in an interview with Safiya founder of SALAM .