Interview by Halimat Shode
We are featuring our African/Caribbean Muslim brothers and sisters that are business owners, have started their own social initiatives, or do inspiring, beneficial work. If you think someone should be featured, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rasheed Ige is the founder of a social enterprise created to service the some of the most vulnerable in London, the homeless. He discussed his journey to establishing it with us.
TBMT-UK: Asalamu Alaikum brother, thanks so much for speaking with us!
R : Waalaykumsalam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu. Thank you very much for giving my work the opportunity to be featured.
TBMT-UK: Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
R : My Name is (Abdul) Rasheed O. Ige I am a 23 year old Social Entrepreneur. I have a BSc in Biomedical Science and an MSc in Biomedical Science with Management. I am a Nigerian man born and bred in South East London with a strong desire to bring about positive and great change to the world.
TBMT-UK: What inspired you to set up your foundation?
R : My story is complex and long ; it all started when I was a 7 year old boy. My mother and I were on our way to McDonalds in London Bridge when a homeless man asked for spare change at the entrance. I had 20 pence in my pocket saved for 1p sherbets that we’d buy from the ice cream van but for some reason, I felt like giving it to this man to help him out. We stepped in to McDonalds and as all inquisitive kids do, I asked my mother why he was out there begging for money. My mother explained to me that not everyone has the luxury of a loving family that are able to help and support and that I should be thankful to Allah for the family I have. Mums point was taken but I wasn’t fully satisfied. On that day I made a subconscious promise to myself to help the homeless community in the future. When I turned 17 I failed my A-levels with 3 U’s and 1 E. I felt really low and a conversation with a homeless man reminded me that this was not the end of the world. I set up my company’s website on that day.
The short answer? I believe the community should be able to step up and give a helping hand to those who need it.
TBMT-UK: Did you have support for your vision?
R: My endeavour was not a money making scheme so people didn’t show much interest. Some people tried to help such as brother Ismael Lea South who provided me with multiple opportunities to feature on ‘Living the Life’ show on Islam Channel but I didn’t have any concrete core support that I can directly attribute the success of the organisation to until 2015. My team which includes Bonnetta Brady and Shanna Antonio have been an integral part to the development of the company in 2015. In February 2015 I got a mentor who helped me with funding applications of which the School of social Entrepreneurs Lloyds Bank Programme was one. The most support I have received for the organisation was through the SSE providing workshops that really helped to guide the vision of the organisation.
TBMT-UK: What obstacles did you face setting it up, and have you overcome them?
R: Building an effective team that believes in the mission and values of the organisation was definitely an obstacle. We went through 3 teams before we ended up with what we have today, a fully effective and passionate team.
Another obstacle was definitely getting my family and friends to understand what I do. With a Masters in Biomedical Science with Management, they were expecting me to be in a decent job making decent money but my passion wasn’t in making money, it was in making a difference. It wasn’t until we were supported by Lloyds Bank on the SSE programme that they saw much value in my work.
Finally, branding; branding as I always say, is everything. It took us 3 years to finally pick a suitable name, colour and logo that would represent our organisation.
TBMT-UK: Where do you see your organisation in the next five years?
R: Finest Foundation provides services for the homeless and the youth alike. We have an event called Hope ‘N’ Mic® that we run regularly. In the next 5 Years, I see Hope ‘N’ Mic® as a community that will hold annual concerts for poetry, drama, dance and all other aspects of art. I see the organisation with multiple hubs for the homeless across the country and some in Sub-Saharan Africa. I also see Finest Foundation with Youth activity centres around the country also.
TBMT-UK: Do you have advice for people looking to set up their own not for profit organisations?
R: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. As a not for profit organisation, your work is respected and appreciated and for that reason a lot more people are open to helping you. If you are going to do anything, do it well. Branding is everything.
Many thanks to Brother Rasheed for taking out the time to speak with us !
To find out more about the organisation or to donate to the cause, visit http://www.FinestFoundation.Uk.
Follow @FinestFoundatio and @HopeNMic on twitter for the latest updates.
(Picture source: Courtesy of Rasheed Ige)