Spotlight on Creates Members
We are proud to support start-up and growing businesses in our Incubator Hubs, Aldridge Creates. The hubs are situated in the heart of our schools, bringing enterprising companies into students’ everyday lives. This new feature on our blog will shine a light on our great Creates members, their passions, history and plans.
Aldridge Foundation: Firstly tell us about your business and how why you wanted to start Ramadan Tent Project.
Omar Salha: Ramadan Tent Project is a non-profit social enterprise which aims to bring communities together to better understand each other. We want to see a world where all people belong and live together in harmony. We do this through several projects, including our flagship Open Iftar in which we’ve hosted thousands of people from all backgrounds in order to share the breaking of the fast meal.
I founded Ramadan Tent Project in 2013 when I was studying at university and found that there were many students who didn’t have anyone to break their fasts in public with people of all faiths and none during Ramadan. We started just giving food out from a trolley and we never expected it to grow like this. Today, over 100,000 people have been hosted in over 10 cities and 4 continents. Now we want to make sure everyone can belong in our society by building bridges between communities.
What advice would you give to a young person starting out?
Starting your own social enterprise requires a lot of dedication, self-motivation, sacrifice and hard work. It’s not easy and a lot of the work you do yourself without much help. If you put the work in, however, it’s very rewarding and is totally worth it. If you have a vision you want to see in the world, don’t be put off by difficulties in your way- keep trying until you see the change you want to see. Persevere, believe and learn to look at challenges as opportunities.
We are so happy to have you at Creates, what made you want to join our community?
I grew up in this area and it’s very close to home. I used to play football here on the same site before the school was built, so for me to return after all these years with my social enterprise is quite surreal! It means a lot to me to be able to work in an area I love so much and take so much pride in. Rewarding to be part of Creates and share the same values of creativity, innovation and boldness to take on new ideas in a thriving community.
What’s the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
Surely, it’s knowing with firm conviction that with every obstacle, hardship, failure, what follows is success. Being able to start off something from scratch and see it grow to become a national and global success – whilst touching so many people’s hearts and minds. Creating a sense of belonging and family to those who may have struggled with loneliness and feeling down in a world that is ever more connected yet disconnected with each other.
What do you see as your greatest achievement?
That’s a tough one! Looking back over the years and the events we have delivered such as Open Iftar at Trafalgar Square, Wembley Stadium, The British Library, and Westminster Abbey and more…it’s difficult to say which one of them was the greatest. I think for me one of the most beautiful gestures and moments captured is when we have people come up to you and they feel happier, uplifted and more mindful of their belonging in life. It’s the little moments, memories and gestures within the large and grand events that mean the most. Knowing that you have softened someone’s heart and mind. That is the most satisfying feeling. Also, the team of volunteers, creating a movement where hundreds have been able to be part of this legacy and share in the success. However, I would like to think that the greatest achievement is yet to come! I’m always looking beyond the horizon….here’s to a million more great memories and exciting challenges ahead!
Finally what do you do to unwind?!
I love playing sports and running. I am a huge football fan and proud to say that I scored a penalty against former Chelsea FC and Manchester United Manager Jose Mourinho!