It all started on the walls of the Nova University of Lisbon, as a project of the Social Entrepreneurship course. During the Christmas break, Benedita met a family of Syrians that arrived a couple of months before to Lisbon. The legal situation and all the bureaucracies around the issue intrigued her. Once back at university and with the challenge to change something that was concerning her, she joined the forces of two more souls, Michele and Laurenne, and together, they started their research on Syrian culture. With shared ambitions and passion for change, they decided to create Amal, which means hope in Arabic, carrying the weight of that word on their back.
So, this project was created based in the concept of social enterprise. And, you ask... what is it? It mixes the best of both worlds: business and the social sector.The social mission is at the core of the organization, though, focusing also on its financial sustainability and all the more corporate aspects, in order to attain and support such social aims . So, in Amal, we will apply the concept by having a strong brand focused not only in the social impact but also, and very importantly for its success, on the quality of the product and all the experience around it.
After university, and given the positive feedback received from interested investors, we found ourselves in the Microsoft headquarters taking major steps for the project, in the BET24 entrepreneurship contest. The event proved significant for two reasons. Firstly, it provided insights and key learnings from mentors and juries. Secondly, we acquired two new team members, Duarte and Pedro, to assist in the feasibility of our product and project, given their engineering background necessary to create our product. We achieved a position in the finals of the social challenge, implemented a crowdfunding campaign surpassing expectations and overall wining the contest. This crucial success allowed us to receive necessary financial support, legitimize our social business, and develop a diverse network of inspiring individuals.
During the summer of 2017, we were testing and retesting different soaps with the help of little angels we came across with, such as a chemistry teacher in the university and Dulce Mourato from in love 4 soaps. With no experience in the area, yet with a lot of help from knowledgeable likeminded collaborators, the process has definitely been challenging but equally enjoyable! It was also time to add more assets to our team; including Joana our Imagineer, helping us on all the design material and many other things, and Rita the numbers magician, helping us to get more on the ground and make sure that we get our social mission financially sustainable. Meanwhile also the not so fun part: legal, finance and state-related functions.
And, this is basically why we exist. It was the universe aligned. Meeting the right people with the right set of skills and motivation at the right time to tackle a problem that concerns us in a serious yet fun approach. Creating a quality product based on History, something visible, that has a purpose behind it and driving its success. In Amal, we thrive to balance between quality and impact. We want to inspire others not only to take part in our project but also to create similar initiatives.