Norah Magraby is the co-founder and green consultant at Naqa’a Environmental Enterprise, a business created by Norah and some of her university friends that provides environmental sustainability solutions to companies in Saudi Arabia. Naqa’a combines a social need for a green initiative as well as Islamic obligation to take care of the environment around us. With Naqa’a being one of the first of its kind in Saudi Arabia, Norah is certainly a visionary and pioneer in the field of social entrepreneurship. May Allah bless her.
|1. What made you want to start this initiative?
I was lucky enough to attend a college that encouraged involvement in community events. I took a class where we were assigned to do a sustainable project and we loved it so much we implemented it all through the college. Later, we took a course in social entrepreneurship in Boston and they told us how to transform our passion and community service as a business. When we graduated we decided to take our project into a business full time. It was tough at first getting started but Alhamdulah we are slowly growing.
|2. What type of services do you provide?
We provide environmental sustainability consulting for established business. Right now environmental sustainability is not regulated by the government so we trying to start it through businesses. We provide four main services: waste and resource management, indoor air quality management, energy efficiency management, and water conservation.
|3. What makes your business unique?
We provide, not only technical solutions, but also a year long awareness program where we educate employees on sustainability and provide other long term solutions. Other businesses that may have similar ideas are only technical, only implement technology, and are not interested in development. Or they may be NGOs are that provide only solutions and don’t provide the technical side. By providing both, we provide a unique service.
|4. How has the reception been from the public?
There is still a lot of awareness that is needed. We are seeing that businesses are just recently starting to be interested in this, as many of them are global and they need to match regulations and compete with other businesses worldwide. We also have businesses that are branches of larger companies that are open to the idea of sustainability. After the Earth Summit, we expect more businesses to get on board.
|5. What would you like people to know about women in Saudi?
Every community event I go to, the majority are women, and the amount of men active in the community is a small minority. The majority of social developers and community activists here in Saudi Arabia are women. The government is very supportive of women starting businesses and provides so many scholarships and opportunities.
|6. I love how you have incorporated Islam in your vision. Tell us about that.
One of the main selling points we use to convince businesses to go green is that it’s not only a social obligation, it is also an Islamic obligation. We have studied Hadith and Quran on these topics and incorporate Islam in everything we do.
|7. How do you feel Islam has helped you in your success?
Sometimes people will tell you that it doesn’t sound like business if you put Islam in it but we personally believe that it is the correct way to do business. We believe it will bring Baraka (blessing) and spreads the word about Islamic ideologies when it comes to environment. We are not only a profit based company we also care about other aspects.
|8. Tell us about social entrepreneurship in Saudi.
It has slowly been growing in the past few years. In Saudi Arabia, you find a lot of charities, NGOS or profit based business but social entrepreneurship is still a very new concept that people are still grasping. Some people look at us and say we are an NGO and others didn’t take us seriously. There’s a huge misunderstanding when it comes to the definition of social entrepreneurship but it is getting better.
|9. Where do you see the business in the future?
We see ourselves accommodating as much clients as we can. We hope to grow in the Middle East. We are the only one non-government and non-western sustainability business, which makes us more accessible to our clients. Right now we offer the US rebuilding certifications but we aim to work with governments later on to create a certification unique to the Middle East.
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