Hi guys, recently we had a chance to interview Hodan Ibrahim and Abdel Mohaiman, the names behind MPower Summit, the Biggest Youth Led Global Islamic Conference in the world.
- Tell us about yourself?
Hodan: Hodan Ibrahim is a 25-year-old social entrepreneur, author, and publisher who specializes in capacity development for emerging businesses. Having lived in Canada, Egypt, Chile and now in the UAE, my passion for travel shaped my passion for economic development and helping develop the next generation of entrepreneurs by cultivating strong entrepreneurial eco-systems to help them thrive.
Abdel Mohaiman: My name is Abdel Mohaiman Mohamed Mansi. I am an Egyptian entrepreneur born in Saudi-Arabia, raised in Egypt. I first discovered my passion for sales when I was 13 years old selling children’s toys door-to-door to government entities in my hometown. My next entrepreneurial stint was founding the first high-end internet cafe in 2003 with my brothers until 2007 I decided to drop out of university to pursue a career in Hospitality, Tourism and Travel in the UAE. I started my first job making 1100AED and ended up with a high-end career in a managerial corporate sales position at a semi government entity in Dubai, which I subsequently left to start my second business, Elmangos, a conference, events and exhibition company in Dubai, in which I am co-founding M Powered Summit 2016. My passion is to help young people like me to pursue opportunities to unleash their full potential and disrupt the status quo.
- How did you get started, and how did you end up here with M Powered? (after Dubai)
Hodan: It started on March 7th 2016 when I decided to cold email corporate sales at various well-known venues in Dubai as per recommendation of a dear friend Ahmed Ismail. I went in to view the venue and the sales representative who met me was Abdel Mohaimen. After pitching my idea, I had raised concerns of how to properly establish the event concept in Dubai legally. After which he had given me the good news that he had started an event management business just 2 months prior and was looking to do a similar event. And this is where the story of M Powered Summit began.
- Whose idea was it? How did the idea come about? (before Dubai)
Hodan: Back in Sept 23 2014, I was in Wales for 1 week for a retreat sponsored by the United Nations Alliance of Civilization. I then went to London with my best friend and had visited the first entrepreneurial exhibition for Somali entrepreneurs, Firii Bandighaa, founded by Asli and Yasiin Ciyow. I was incredible inspired by their successful event but was searching for the proper city and venue. Fast forward to November 2015, I was in South America and made the decision to move out of Ottawa in December after praying Istikharaa (a special Muslim prayer for guiding you to the right decision). Two months later, I decided to book a 1-way ticket to Dubai not knowing anyone, anything or where my destiny would take me.
Abdel Mohaiman: On 6th of Sept 2014 I had delivered an event outside of my normal corporate career to help out a friend and it was very successful. After this I decided that I wanted to create an events business focusing on social impact and had been long searching for an event concept to execute until I attended an entrepreneurship event in 2015 by a well known telecommunication company based in Dubai where I had the idea of developing a similar event but for empowering young entrepreneurs. Later in December in 2015, I decided to establish a legal company, Elmangos Events, to start organizing events, conferences and exhibitions with a key focus on social impact. After meeting Hodan in March 2016, she had decided to stay in Dubai and I subsequently quit my job and started to seriously conceptualize MPS2016 coming to life.
- What is your objective with this conference?
Our objective is captured in our event’s slogan: unleashing potential and creating opportunities to help empower young entrepreneurs within the Islamic economy to create the next generation of global Islamic brands that contribute in a positive way to the society. We want to help startups and entrepreneurs like us get connected with relevant resources and facilitate an ecosystem whereby they can thrive long-term.
- Where do you see it going in the next few years?
We aim to become the largest platform and summit attracting young global entrepreneurs and startups that want to start or grow a company to create positive impact.
- Who are your top 5 speakers speaking at the event?
We have 25 of the world’s leading entrepreneurs within the Islamic economy speaking. They are all our honoured special guests and we are very excited to welcome them as pioneers and allies in supporting our vision to make this event come to life.
These are truly pioneers who helped paved the way for this space to exist. I’ll just mention a few (and I wish I could go through all of them. I’m truly in awe of everyone): Peter Gould has been a thought-leader that changed the way we think about art, design and branding. Chris Abdul-Rahman Blauvelt has led the way and changed the way we think about crowdfunding. Shahed Amanullah has led the way in using entrepreneurship as a means to combat negative elements in our communities and establishing the first incubator to help incubate Muslim-centric brands.
Mohammed Faris has helped millions of Muslims by helping them becoming more productive and established one of the most recognized and successful blogs in the world. Dustin Craun has led the way in laying the critical foundations for the Muslim startup ecology and was the first to highlight the movers and shakers in the space in addition to launching the world’s first global Islamic banking and finance platform.
Ali Dabaja who founded Hajjnet and is enhancing the way people perform Hajj. Alia Khan established the Islamic Fashion and Design Council, first of its kind in the world and is central for paving the way for the growth of the $2 billion Islamic fashion industry. There is no conversation about Islamic fashion without Alia. Abdul-Hameed Sharara is a super trailblazer who has built the largest global platform for entrepreneurs in MENA and Africa region. Omar Al Busaidy is one of the leading Emirati entrepreneurs shaping the UAE, as well as a successful author and Global Shaper.
- What were your 5 top challenges putting this event on?
You may not believe this but aside from the challenges we had with funding, finding the right sponsor, sourcing the right venue and putting together a team, everything worked out alhamdolilah as it was destined to be.
- Where do you see the Muslim space heading? What will be the big innovations?
There is a steady rise of attention towards this space, whether through media coverage, the creation of more spaces to facilitate the gathering of Muslim startups, we see a few things happening: more mainstream coverage, inclusion in mainstream discourse and events such as SXSW, hopefully large tech conferences such as Next Web and Tech Crunch will feature more startups from this space.
There are big disruptions coming, especially within the financial services (Fintech) area disrupting Islamic finance sector. We are seeing a steady rise of halal tourism startups targeting global Muslim travelers who are growing weary of same-old, same-old vacations and are looking for more dynamic and meaningful vacations.
But overall, we anticipate a huge rise in attention of this global emerging community in the mainstream.
- How many people do you have attending the event?
It is hard to anticipate the first year but we feel we will have around 800-900+ attendees (and who knows, maybe more insha’Allah).
- What is the single biggest message you want to convey with this event?
Single biggest message is this: If we want to grow our communities, we need to empower the next generation of entrepreneurs and catalysts at the grassroots by showcasing this new generation of entrepreneurs within the global Muslim startup ecology as contributing members shaping the world we live in.
These are incredible, forward-thinking talents from this global community building the next generation of global brands. Here they are and they matter. We should support them. We should fund them. Not only because the economic incentives are great but because they are shaping the world we live in.
- How hard was it to raise funding or meet the financial costs of hosting an event this size?
We had the very generous support of strategic sponsors and as a small team of entrepreneurs made a commitment to do our best to bootstrap the event.
- What is your advice for other young Muslim female entrepreneurs?
My advice for any entrepreneur is that if you have an idea, just do it. There is no perfect time. Try your best to not see risk as danger but rather as an opportunity.
- Of all places in the world why Dubai?
Dubai is a role model for anyone who wants to pursue his dreams, 40 years ago it was a desert and now it is one of the greatest centres of global events, and tourism. The vision of H.H Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum in empowering youth made us decide that the event must be organized in Dubai, supporting Dubai’s ruler’s vision in making Dubai the hub of entrepreneurs and Islamic economy of the world.
In addition, Dubai is one of the greatest hubs of entrepreneurship and ranked #1 best place for ease of business in the Middle East. It’s a city of ideas, hustle and dreams. I’ve met some incredible people who want to make their ideas happen – whether it’s providing for their families or building world-class companies.
You don’t come to Dubai to be number #2. Nothing here is #2. You want to do something? You aimed to be #1 and as such we want to be the top entrepreneurship event in the world. This spirit of the Islamic concept of Ihsaan practiced on an international level is inspiring. This is how you invite people to Islam – you don’t have to brand anything Islamic. You simply be the best at what you do.
- What are your top 5 pieces of advice for young Muslim entrepreneurs whether male or female trying to host a major event or bring community together?
- First thing is to really believe in yourself, and make the intention to impact the people around you positively. Having a good intention will bring a lot of Baraka (blessings).
- Be really clear as to what value you are providing. If someone is doing something similar, try to join them instead of reinventing the wheel. If you believe you have a great idea, take to potential attendees and ask them what they need.
- Pull together a strong team of people whose skillsets compliment each other. Without a great team, you cannot make your idea happen on a big level.
- Try to facilitate meaningful connections and really think about the value you are bringing to your attendees.
- Always take imperfect action. Done is better than perfect.
- If you were to do this event all over again what would you do different from the beginning?
Frankly speaking, nothing! It was all meant to be.
- Tell us about the Islamic economy. Do you see the youth being the driving force in the future or more experience seasoned elders?
The Islamic economy is one of the most unique and fast growing $2.1 trillion emerging market opportunities in the world, primarily driven by global urban Muslims driving demand for products that are in alignment with faith-based values. You have many fast growing sectors such as halal tourism, modest fashion, media, lifestyle products and services that are all serving the sophisticated Muslim consumer.
The main discourse happening in the Islamic Economy has been primarily driven by top tier institutions, financiers, bankers, corporate decision makers. Incredible amounts of research and knowledge about this space has been produced, particularly with consumers in mind.
For this economy to truly grow, we most definitely need more youth participation. This means legislating the creation of opportunities for young people to unleash their potential, be inspired and giving the permission to create!
Youth is the backbone of any economy or society in the world, if we give them the right access and the right tools they could seriously make a positive change within our economy.
- MuslimInc loves covering female Muslimah entrepreneurs, we feel the world needs more sisters guiding sisters, who’s been instrumental as a Muslimah entrepreneur in your journey and how have they impacted your life?
My mother! My mother is a successful business woman herself who never really wanted me to go into business. My mother successfully raised 3 professional women on her own while running a few successful businesses. I am an African – so business and making deals is in my blood. My mother taught me the true meaning of wealth very early on in life. Wealth was about what you have in your heart. But she was incredibly pragmatic and always taught me to make my own money because it is what runs the world. It’s a tool to be used, not the end goal itself. She taught me there is nothing wrong with making money as long as you focus on using it to benefit people and not materialistically.
Ultimately she raised me to believe I can do anything so long as I worked hard for it.
- Where can our readers find out more about you?
You check out M Powered Summit Dubai 2016, where 28 other incredible entrepreneurs within the Islamic Economy will be sharing their journeys to building awesome companies.
MPS2016 is happening on Oct 9-10 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
You can purchase your ticket at www.mpoweredsummit.com