Tell us a bit about you, your story, where did you start and where are you now?
My name is Hodan Ibrahim. I am a Canadian-Somali serial entrepreneur currently in the United Arab Emirates. I grew up in Ottawa, Canada studying Political Science and International Relations. I figured I’d be a teacher but after moving to Egypt right after graduation, I caught both the entrepreneurship and travel bug. Short story is that I started a ton of companies, failed more than I can count, traveled to many awesome places and had the privilege of learning through all of that, that my passion and purpose in life is capacity development of emerging businesses. I’m here to help awesome people be awesome. I am committed to building the ecosystems they need to thrive. Six months ago I cut a one-way ticket to Dubai to start M Powered Summit Dubai 2016.
My co-founder is Abdelmohaimen Mansi, an Egyptian entrepreneur. We met in Dubai as I was looking to expand and start the M Powered Summit. He had a long, successful career in the corporate world while also starting one of the first high-end internet cafes in Egypt in 2002. In January 2016, he started Elmangos, an event and exhibition management company based in Dubai. In June 2016, he decided to quit his job and started working on bringing M Powered Summit from an idea to reality.
What is MPowered Summit about, and what inspired you to start it? Why is it needed today?
M Powered Summit is the first global summit and platform exclusively dedicated to empowering entrepreneurs and start-ups in the Islamic economy (to be held on Oct 9th-10th at the Dubai World Trade Centre.)
It’s a “by entrepreneurs for entrepreneurs event” aimed by helping empower the next generation of global entrepreneurs and brands within the Islamic economy by connecting them to relevant resources.
Whether you are a Muslim based in Silicon Valley, Berlin, Dubai, South Africa or Malaysia – the global Muslim lifestyle is a shared global culture. We believe it’s the spirit of social impact driven by our faith-based values that makes this event resonate with so many people.
Why We Started It
We started it because we wanted to create an exclusive space for entrepreneurs and innovators who are shaping the Islamic economy. We wanted to showcase their work on a global level and share practical knowledge & experiences on how they have built the businesses that are driving this $2 trillion emerging market economy.
We want to recognize incredible initiatives like Creativity and the Spiritual Path and trailblazing work done by many entrepreneurs in this space such as Innovation for Impact and more. We are simply making a humble contribution to the work that is already being done.
At M Powered Summit, entrepreneurs take center stage and we want to celebrate entrepreneurship in order to help make it the norm within our communities.
There are some incredible, forward-thinking talented people building the next generation of global brands. Here they are and they matter. We should support them. We should fund them. Not just because the economic incentives are great but because they are shaping the world we live in, for better.
We Don’t Need to Brand Ourselves as Islamic
This isn’t an Islamic event. This is about creating a much needed platform to help unleash the entrepreneurial potential of the Islamic economy and benefit the Muslim world and beyond. We have a deep, rich ancient wisdom that guides our lives within the Islamic tradition and these ethical frameworks are shared by so many people.
We want to Unleash the Entrepreneurial Potential of the Islamic Economy
We are so interconnected that it’s no longer useful to think of entrepreneurship in the Islamic economy regionally. What is needed is a space for these entrepreneurs to connect in-person to expand their network, learn about how to do their work better, exchange ideas, and go back into their communities and take that knowledge with them.
Who needs to be at MPowered Summit and what do you hope they will they get out of it?
All aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs should be at M Powered Summit.
If you want to learn about how to build a better brand, you should be there. If you need some tips on how to raise funds as a Muslim startup, you should come and listen to those who’ve done it successfully. If you want to benefit from panel discussions that dig deep into actually defining this space and tackling issues of the severe lack of funding within the Islamic economy, come! If you want to meet world-class entrepreneurs, then this is the place to be!
Who are the special guests speaking at the summit? What topics will they speak about?
We have 25 of the world’s leading entrepreneurs within the Islamic economy speaking at M Powered. They are all our honoured special guests and very excited to welcome them as pioneers and allies in supporting our vision to make this event come to life.
These are truly pioneers who helped paved the way for this space to exist. Check out the full list here!
All talks have practical & actionable advice for entrepreneurs, covering important topics from branding to funding & more!
What are you most looking forward to about the summit?
Meeting everyone! But most importantly, we are most looking forward to seeing everyone leave the summit with something tangible and beneficial.
We don’t want to be another start-up conference. We want people to leave thinking – I really did benefit myself and my company coming here. I learned something. I met an investor or potential co-founder. I got useful feedback on my business. I had a great time connecting with like-hearted entrepreneurs and innovators.
What is it like living in Dubai? Can you comment on how moving to Dubai may have influenced the MPowered summit in any way?
Dubai is everything I never thought it was. It truly surprised me. I turned down many opportunities to come thinking it was plastic and was a place meant for the ultra wealthy. It’s not. I’ve done more in one year than I could have done in five years in Ottawa. Your environment either slows you down or accelerates you.
This city is one of the greatest hubs of entrepreneurship. It’s a city of ideas, hustle and dreams. I’ve met some incredible people who want to make their ideas happen – whether it’s providing for their families or build world-class companies. You don’t come to Dubai to be number #2. Nothing here is #2. You want to do something? You aim to be #1.
This spirit of the Islamic concept of Ihsaan practiced on an international level is inspiring. This is how you invite people to Islam – you don’t have to brand anything Islamic. You simply have to be the best at what you do.
I left Ottawa and first moved to Toronto to do this but failed to make it there (haha). It’s an up-coming city that I feel could have hosted M Powered Summit due to the growing entrepreneurs there but only two places made sense to me: Dubai or Malaysia.
Dubai’s leadership is truly visionary. It’s a young city and there are many criticisms, but very few places in the world match the vision of the leadership of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and the effect of his leadership inspiring people from all walks of life to think of themselves of leaders.
We were inspired to make M Powered Summit the best and largest gathering of global entrepreneurs, forward-thinking, value-driven movers and shakers trying to make the world a better place.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Putting this summit together was an exercise in faith in Allah. I truly believe Allah opens up doors of blessings and rizq when you do something 100%. The doors of Divine Providence open when you are willing to walk with 100% trust in God that things will work out.
My advice to all entrepreneurs is whatever you are thinking about, just do it.
Where and how can people get their tickets from?
You can purchase your early bird tickets on www.mpoweredsummit.com. We’ve released the first batch to those who RSVP’ed. They end on September 7th 2016.
Dates, cost, location
M Powered Summit Dubai 2016 will be held on Oct 9th-10th, two days before the Global Islamic Economy Summit. It will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre in Hall 8.
You can find us at www.mpoweredsummit.com