Light of Sakina is a sustainable candle wax company creating impact USD $1 at a time. Founded in 2018, this Dubai-based SME produces its product by teaching the art of candle making to widows via the internet.
The Wealth Today had the exclusive opportunity to chat with Naila Rahim, Founder of Light of Sakina, to know more about her company and business practices.
Q- What was the idea behind setting up the company? Can you tell us a little bit more about the inspiration?
A – I set up Light of Sakina with colleagues from the industry who I am proud to call close friends and team members, as we wanted to develop a project with impact.
We initially started as a not-for-profit business. Our process was to teach widows in war torn countries to create sustainable products – soy candles. In Ramadan 2019, we had the opportunity to sell 600 and that is when we realized the business potential. We realized growing the company into a profit venture would offer better returns to those in need.
The inspiration behind setting up the company was to create an impact, no matter how small.
As a single mother myself, I had the desire to empower other single mothers through the business, especially those without many opportunities and therefore we are committed to donating $1 from the earnings of every candle sold to communities in need.
While we all have our day jobs, as I am still sat at the Board of the Family Office, it is important to understand and realize the importance of Corporate Social Responsibility as privileged professionals.
Q- You have sat at the Board of an Energy Company – how did you make this shift and what key learnings have you bought to your new company?
A – Yes, I worked with a petroleum trading company for over a decade, heading the operational side of the business.
The shift was made easily enough, I have always wanted to work for a green project which is environment friendly.
On a personal level, I am very conscious of the planet we live and operate in. In this present climate, investing and operating both require an understanding and adoption of ESG practices, out of which I realized the Environment angle is closest to me. Hence, our product being 100% sustainable made out of soy wax. We ensure sustainability and environmental practices are at the heart of the production process and are proud to say that all our candles contain no parabens or artificial ingredients, are vegan friendly and cruelty free
It pleases me to know that in a small way, Light of Sakina is helping to limit carbon footprint.
While working with a two-decade old company is very different from building a start-up I have learnt a lot about management and operational excellence from my father, who was the Board Leader at the time. This has enabled me to ensure that we generate returns that are sustainable for the beneficiaries who are our key partners in the partner – in this case, the widows who rely in some small way on the production and sale of the candles.
I would urge all big companies, having been a part of one, to partner with small start-ups like Light of Sakina to expand their CSR impact. This is not just a social but moral responsibility.
Q- What is the size of your impact – how has this helped persons in need?
A – I am very keen to grow our impact – we support 50 single parenting women and in return 150 orphans on a monthly basis. They are the stars of the company and embody the true spirit of the production.
As part of creating impact, we also look for partnerships to expand our vision. In 2020, we partnered with St. Mary’s Church to organise and distribute food hampers to those in need.
150 – number of orphans supported by Light of Sakina
Q- What message can you give to big companies – how can they be motivated to upgrade their CSR for maximum social impact?
A – We live in a world where everyone is taking notice of sustainability and mindful business practices – ESG will be crucial for any wealth and investment businesses to survive.
Therefore, in my opinion, the responsibility is on the owner to identify, support and drive CSR and sustainable initiatives via their teams. This is the only way it will become part of the culture, when it comes from top down. We can start small, setting up Light of Sakina was my way but it is imperative for any business to survive in today’s world, it must be a business of purpose and meaning, not just monetary profit.
We live in a world where everyone is taking notice of sustainability and mindful business practices – ESG will be crucial for any wealth and investment businesses to survive.
Q- Why did you choose Dubai for your project?
A – Dubai is home – I have lived here for 20 years now. Additionally, it makes perfect business sense. It has a diverse and giving target audience. The melting pot offers the opportunity to create something for everyone.
Q- Finally, what are your top three advice to other SMEs who might want to set up in the UAE?
A – I have learnt that transparency and honesty will get you everywhere – this is not just for business but just as a life rule.
Getting the right people on board matters. It is important to have a team that believes in the project and searching for the right fit might take time but ultimately is beneficial. Always take your time in hiring.
Lastly, join networks, meet people and have coffees even if it is virtually given the current challenges. Everyone in Dubai knows someone, building the right connections will always get you the help and support you need.
Getting the right people on board matters