Every week, the Soukie Speaks’ Club Courage series celebrates a brave entrepreneur in the Arab startup ecosystem, by sharing their story and the impact that their startup is having on the community. This week we interviewed Sami Khoury, Founder of Social Tent.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself, your educational experience and how you got into entrepreneurship.
After a few years of working in marketing, I decided to get a master’s degree abroad. I knew that after graduation, I wanted to work with an organization that had a strong social mission. When I started looking for such jobs, I found it very hard to find something
regional. There wasn’t a portal that was specifically designed for the Arab World that connected me to jobs in organisations that have a social mission. Coincidently, around that same time, I was also bitten by the ‘Entrepreneurship Bug’ but was not sure yet of the type of social enterprise I wanted to launch.
2) What is Social Tent and why is it unique?
Social Tent matches talent to jobs that focus on social, environmental, and cultural progress in the Arab World. These jobs include careers in nonprofits, social enterprises and development organizations in the region that aim to create a positive social impact.We’re the only platform that specializes in social impact jobs in the Arab World. We take a proactive role in ensuring that socially-driven talent get matched to organizations that are making a difference in the region. This is our core mission and the reason we exist.
What is the profile of your average user and what can they expect from the Social Tent experience?
Our users come from a variety of backgrounds and have one thing in common: they are ready to apply their skills and talents to a meaningful career. While a lot of our users have experience in the humanitarian sector, we also have job seekers from the corporate world who have grown tired of their jobs and are looking for a career that can give back to society. Suitable candidates can expect a very hands-on experience. They get updates on the latest social impact jobs in the Arab World, recommendations on potential jobs they are good matches for and support from our team on interview and job application preparation.
4) In the MENA region, most job seekers have an account on either LinkedIn or Bayt.com, both platforms that share a substantial number of employment opportunities, so why should they sign up for a Social Tent account?
We specialize promoting in jobs that have a social mission in the Arab World. Other platforms are general and cover a variety of fields and do not focus on promoting jobs with a social mission. That’s not their priority. When users come to Social Tent they know they’ll only see jobs that are aligned with the social values they are seeking in the organization they want to work for. When they go on these general platforms and search for jobs that have a social or environmental mission, very few jobs are displayed, which is far from reality.
5) How do you intend to use Social Tent to promote the importance of impact-driven work to youth, the future job seekers in the MENA region?
Social Tent actively seeks and takes on opportunities to share knowledge with youth and raise awareness around careers with a social return on investment. For example, we often participate in workshops in universities on the topic of social enterprise. Through those workshops, we have the opportunity to educate youth further on the types of careers they can lead in such fields. However, we also explain that even if they choose corporate jobs they can still lead them with social impact. Every one of us has the opportunity to apply our skills to support our communities and society – and get paid for it!
6) What are the criteria for employers who want to post on the Social Tent platform? Will you create opportunities for smaller or local NGOs to create job postings in the future?
We only work with organizations that have a strong social, environmental, or cultural mission at the heart of what they do. They have to have a successful track record of impact initiatives that improve communities. We do create opportunities for smaller impact organizations to promote their jobs. We’re always on the lookout to connect with founders and HR managers of these smaller, local organizations. We want to get to know them better and support them in recruiting the right talent that helps them create and maintain positive social impact.
7) Do you have any advice for job seekers who are applying for positions advertised on the Social Tent platform?
The jobs and organizations that social tent recruits for are still underdeveloped in the region, particularly in terms of scope and processes. As such, different organizations might have different processes for filtering and selecting talent for example. There is no cookie-cutter approach to applying and securing a job in these organizations. Social Tent adapts to the organizations’ needs and often supports them in further defining the roles they are recruiting for. It is also worth mentioning that many of these organizations have limited resources, stretched teams and business models and /or organizational structures that are still not mature. This brings me to some key advice: 1. You need to be adaptable to the organizations’ needs as much as your own professional needs (just like any other job), 2. You have the opportunity to own the creation of frameworks and processes that add value and 3. You have to be ready to deal with challenges you rarely experience in corporate environments.
8) What project(s) are you working on at the moment and how would you like to see Social Tent grow in the future?
We are focusing on impact recruitment right now. We’re building a talent pool of qualified professionals who have the right skills, mindset and experience to help create a social impact in the region. We work closely with our network of socially-driven professionals and organizations to make sure that the right people are matched to the right roles. We like to keep things simple and focused, that’s how we continue delivering our value to the community.
9) How can people learn more about you and your project(s)?
They can just sign up on the website and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. It’s that simple!
Linkedin: Social Tent
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