“What I admire about Saba is her indefatigable passion for women’s empowerment and her unmitigated commitment to thinking about the people she is working to serve and trying to improve their lives. It takes a lot to do what she does – to push beyond the naysayers and the negativity and follow her true calling whilst remaining grounded, humble and selfless along the way.
I feel that as much as the cause is important and needs our attention, it’s necessary to recognise and appreciate the person behind the cause. I’m honoured to be working with Saba and for the opportunity to be able to nominate her as ‘a girl who is changing the world‘.”
Saba Gul is the founder and executive director of BLISS: Business and Life Skills School, a social enterprise that focuses on education and entrepreneurship training for underprivileged girls in Pakistan. When I received the nomination a few weeks ago, by Mehwaesh Islmam, I was absolutely blown away by the incredible accomplishments of this young woman:
- Saba is an engineer turned social entrepreneur.
- She has not one but two degrees from MIT.
- She worked in the Silicon Valley for a while before giving up her cushy job and moving to Pakistan to work on BLISS full-time.
- Saba received recognition for her work via a dinner invitation from Secretary Clinton for ’emerging leaders under the age of 30′.
Amazing. Founded in October of 2009, BLISS, began the project with Afghan Turkmen population of Attock, Pakistan. She is empowering adolescent girls and helping them build better lives through education. A lot of these girls have to make the choice of work over school, getting employed as female laborers at a young age to make money to help their families. The mission of BLISS is to get these girls in school and have them stay there.
“Our mission is to bring these girls to school and keep them in school. Simultaneously, our innovative curriculum teaches useful skills that enable them to continue contributing to family income in an ethical and responsible manner, and that boost lifetime earning potential. Our entrepreneurship curriculum provides girls the training and tools they need to launch their own micro-enterprises.”
She is doing this through Bags for BLISS. Through monetary incentives that help compensate the family for wages lost when school is picked over work. “These incentives are funded by the sale of embroidered handbags the girls are trained to design and create. Over time, our entrepreneurship training ensures a community buy-in, so that the girls have complete ownership of the enterprise.” Talk about empowering girls in the most powerful way!
Friend Mehwaesh Islam says, “I’m always inspired by her enthusiasm for the work that we do educating the girls and lifting them out of poverty through high fashion!” In the weeks that followed the launch of their first line of handbags, the sold out their first stock and were approached by a top retailer in Pakistan and two high-end shops in London and Dubai.
“I don’t think we can say we’re making a big dent in this social problem yet, but I think we can say that we are slowly changing the lives of these girls, even if it’s just keeping them in school. That’s the first step.”
Thank you to Mehwaesh for the nomination and for introducing us to such a wonderful young woman. And thank you Saba for empowering girls and creating change in our world!
Check out the BLISS official site here: bagsforbliss.org
Follow BLISS on Twitter: @bagsforbliss
Donate to BLISS here: http://www.indiegogo.com/bagsforbliss
*Nomination by: Mehwaesh Islam
Follow B on Twitter: @iamsunshine78