The social entrepreneur Ilaina Rabbat co-founded Amani Institute with the wish to address one of the biggest challenges of our times: education for social change. Based in Nairobi, Kenya, the institute offers courses on social innovation management, short term courses for professionals on leadership and management, and tailored programs for companies and educational institutions, all focused on the social sector. In this interview to Horyou blog, Ilaina talks about her motivations to work with social innovation, Sustainable Development Goals and her wishes for the next 20 years:
When and why have you decided to become a social entrepreneur?
It was in 2010 when I was working at Ashoka, where I met Roshan Paul (my current co-founder). We were discussing the importance of training professionals to solve the world’s gaps, as opposed to market gaps. Education and social change have always been my passions. I had already had experiences in both sectors. Now was the time to put those passions to the service of a project that I deeply believe in. Amani Institute was that. In 2012 Roshan and I moved to Nairobi, Kenya, leaving behind comfort and security to start something that almost no one believed could work!
What’s the social or environmental impact of your project?
Our mission is to develop professionals who produce social impact by creating new models of education and training that enable people to develop new practical skills and experiences for their professional toolkit, as well as a personal understanding of their own leadership journey, and the global networks necessary for long-term career success. All this while simultaneously reducing the high cost of a world-class global education. As a result, we build much-needed talent and capacity in organizations addressing social problems, thus enabling more effective operations across the entire social sector.
Which Social Development Goals does your project address?
We directly address the “Quality Education” goal but indirectly all of them, since our mission is to train people to contribute to these goals.
What is the biggest challenge for a social entrepreneur?
To never give up! There are many moments when you think your idea is not realistic. Those are hard moments. You have to stick to your long-term vision to go through the ups and downs of an entrepreneurial journey.
What inspires you to face everyday’s challenges?
What inspires me is hope! To believe that it is possible to have a better world and that we, human beings, can make it happen.
What’s the importance of social networks to your project? Within our social network for social good Horyou.com, we host more than 1000 social entrepreneurs who advocate their impact-driven projects. To what extent do you consider the role of the Internet and social platforms in fostering social entrepreneurship and, by extension, social impact?
At Amani Institute, social media is central to our goals because we are a global organization that wants to attract people that want to live a life of meaning and impact from all around the world. It would be almost impossible to do it without the force of the Internet and social media.
How do you see the future of social entrepreneurship? Where do you see your project in 20 years
I think social entrepreneurship will be the norm. We see at Amani Institute that more and more people want to have a meaningful life where they can have a real impact in the world and in someone else’s life. Not necessarily through starting a social venture but through bringing new solutions to social problems in different sectors such as the private and public ones. That is what we call them social Intrapreneurs.
I hope to see my project dying in 20 years because we are not needed anymore. I hope that by 2037 it will be the norm in education and training to talk about social impact and meaning. That everyone who wants will be able to have a life where they are aligned with themselves and with the world. I see a world full of social innovators and a much better world for all.
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