Welcome to another installment of our ongoing entrepreneur of the month series, where we highlight business leader’s making a difference in the Arab world. They share insights on what it takes to succeed in an ever changing marketplace and tell the story of how their dreams became a reality.
This week we’re chatting with Zaid Souqi Founder of The Orenda Tribe to learn what it takes to, not only be successful, but also do good in the world. Their company provides high quality children’s clothing with a socially responsible twist; The clothing designs are inspired by the art of children living in refugee camps & distressed communities. For every product sold, The Orenda Tribe contributes part of the profits to fund art related activities in the very communities the original was created.
What was the inspiration for The Orenda Tribe?
In 2015 I served with an NGO in South Africa that cares for orphans and vulnerable children living in rural communities. I worked around contagiously inspiring people who were driven by purpose on daily basis and were making an impact on many children’s lives.
Around that same time period I was doing my MBA at IE Business School; it was there that I was introduced to the idea of social entrepreneurship and I immediately fell in love with it.
Both these experiences took place during the same time period and lead to the creation of The Orenda Tribe.
What problem are you solving?
At its core, The Orenda Tribe is about inspiring people to believe in themselves and solve their own problems through learning certain skills.
The meaning of Orenda is a mystical force present in all people that empowers them to affect the world, or to effect change in their own lives. It’s this mystical force that we are trying to unleash within the children we work with.
How does it work?
Our secret ingredient is art.
We use the art created from children living in refugee camps and underprivileged communities in the designs of our t-shirts.
The t-shirts than serve as a tool to raise awareness about the communities we are working with and connects privileged and less fortunate communities in a tangible way.
We also donate part of the revenue generated from the t-shirts to fund art related activities in those same communities.
The reality is art is a neglected subject in most distressed communities, and by making it more accessible we believe we can help children develop the skills needed to build a better future for themselves and their communities.
What is your target market?
With services such as PAYFORT available to me, the truth is I can have a global target market (I swear PAYFORT didn’t ask me to mention them) and I do hope to reach a global market in the future.
I started focusing on the UAE and Gulf due to strong purchasing power and my own geographical location, but the next step is to focus on online sales and hopefully reach places such as the USA, Canada, Europe, and other countries.
What differentiates you from other competitors in the region?
The story and the new idea.
The unique artwork on our t-shirts.
It is important to note that we invested a lot in the quality of our product. Our t-shirts are 100% organic cotton, the print on the t-shirts is a digital print and it is made in one of the best factories in Istanbul.
We also try to be socially responsible at every stage of the supply chain, using organic fabric and packaging with recycled material.
How much time did it take you from conceptualization of ‘your venture’ to actually launching it in the market?
Around 9 months.
Are there any obstacles that are impacting The Orenda Tribe?
Well it is a new industry for me, the t-shirt business is highly saturated and very competitive. With that said, I love a challenge.
Every day I am learning something new.
What role has social media played in growing your business?
I believe that social media is very important in our age.
It is the communication platform for both existing and potential customers.
You need to be very creative to reach your audience since we are living in a fast paced life where it is difficult to capture people’s attention. Social media played a major role in illustrating our concept to the public, but we still have a long way to go.
What sort of support and feedback are you looking for from the community?
Spreading the word about The Orenda Tribe and explaining the concept would be amazing, and of course buying more t-shirts!
What advice would you give to new start-ups in the region?
Prove your concept on a small scale and go for it!
I came across many people who have awesome ideas but are afraid to take that first step.
My advice is, prove your concept on a very small scale then go for it.
For example, in my case proof of concept is checking the following:
– Can I access underprivileged communities?
– Can I implement art classes for kids there?
– Are the drawings printable on t-shirts?
– Are people going to like the designs?
– Can I give back, given my cost and selling price?
This proof of concept doesn’t cost much and can be done on a small scale. The same goes for most ideas.
And give back to the community. Trust me karma will hit you back and reward you.