Nadine Zidani as an example for a women sustainability leader

Leading with Impact: A Conversation with Mena Impact’s CEO on Empowering Women for a Sustainable Future

On International Women’s Day, we celebrate the achievements of women who are shaping the world around us. At Mena Impact, we are particularly proud to have Nadine, our CEO, leading the way with her vision, expertise, and dedication to creating lasting positive change. In this insightful conversation, Nadine shares her personal journey, thoughts on women’s leadership in sustainability, and her vision for Mena Impact’s future


     1.Personal Journey and Inspiration:


Q: Can you tell us about a specific instance or individual who inspired you to pursue your entrepreneurial journey and focus on giving back?

The pandemic was the trigger to question my true purpose in life. I took a 1 year sabbatical, not knowing what would happen and allowing myself to let go and follow what ignited my soul: making a true impact with my work, and doing it my own way.

 Giving back has always been part of my identity, thanks to my parents, Moroccan immigrants in France. They taught me to be grateful for having access to education, and being in a position of privilege to build the life I want and I  learned from them the importance of giving back. This is where my willingness to give back to the world and   focus on the Arab world is coming from


Q: As a woman leading a company focused on impact, what challenges have you faced, and how have you overcome them?

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is bridging the gap between our mission-driven approach and the traditional business model. People often struggle to understand that Mena Impact can be both purpose-driven and operate as a financially sustainable company. I see this as an exciting opportunity! It allows us to be trailblazers, paving the way for a new wave of responsible businesses in the MENA region. We’re actively working to redefine what it means to be a successful company in today’s world, where positive impact goes hand-in-hand with financial viability. By leading by example, we aim to become a role model for other organizations looking to embrace a more sustainable and impactful approach.


Q: What advice would you give to young women, particularly those from the MENA region, who are considering a career path similar to yours?

  • Seek Mentorship: Find inspiring individuals who can guide and support you on your journey. Mentors provide invaluable insights and encouragement, helping you navigate challenges and unlock your full potential.
  • Invest in Yourself Continuously: Prioritize your growth through training, coaching, and prioritizing your health. These investments will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and resilience necessary to thrive in your career.
  • Build Your Personal Brand: Use social media platforms to connect with others, attend relevant events to expand your network, and embrace public speaking opportunities. Basically put yourself out there.


     2.Impact and Sustainability:


Q: What are your thoughts on the importance of women’s leadership in driving positive environmental and social change?

Women bring a unique perspective and approach to the table, one that I believe is crucial for tackling the complex challenges of our time, particularly in areas like sustainability and social change. We often see empathy, collaboration, and a focus on long-term solutions as hallmarks of female leadership, qualities essential for building a more sustainable and equitable future for all.

Furthermore, when women are empowered to take leadership roles, it sets a powerful example for younger generations, especially young girls, demonstrating that they too can make a difference in the world. This inspires them to pursue their dreams, break down barriers, and become agents of positive change in their communities and beyond.

While challenges remain, I’m optimistic about the growing number of women leading the charge in sustainability and social change initiatives. Their voices are essential, and their contributions are invaluable as we work towards a brighter future for all.


Q: Mena Impact focuses on the MENA region. Why is it crucial to address the region’s unique challenges when it comes to sustainability?

The MENA region is broad and diverse, and countries have in common the Arab language, culture and religion. The challenges are unique, from an environmental standpoint for example droughts, and water scarcity. Also from a social standpoint, the youth which represents more than half of the population face difficulties to access job opportunities. So addressing sustainability in the MENA region requires a nuanced approach that respects the region’s unique aspects. It’s not sufficient to transplant strategies that succeeded elsewhere; they must be carefully adapted to resonate with the local context.

In essence, it’s not about replicating what worked in the western countries but rather about assimilating global sustainability practices, modifying them to fit our distinctive circumstances, and creating a bridge for mutual understanding and empathy across different regions.  This is precisely what Mean Impact strives to achieve through our local hubs, we recognize the unique challenges and aspirations faced by communities across the MENA region. That’s why we established a network of local hubs – to engage directly with these communities.

Through these hubs, we foster open dialogue and collaboration which allows us to gain a deep understanding of the specific needs in terms of sustainability. With this knowledge, we can co-create culturally-relevant solutions that are meaningful and impactful for the communities they serve.

Our approach goes beyond simply implementing pre-existing models. We believe that sustainable solutions must be rooted in the local context.


Q: How do you think your holistic approach (Consulting, Academy, Hubs) empowers organizations to make a real impact?

We recognized early on that simply raising awareness of sustainability wasn’t enough. Many companies engage in superficial efforts like Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives -CSR – or PR stunts. To achieve real impact, a deeper understanding is needed.

Through consulting services, we guide organizations in their sustainability transformation. Our Academy provides the necessary knowledge and tools for measuring and improving environmental and social impact. Finally, our network of Hubs fosters collaboration and knowledge sharing within local communities. This combination empowers organizations to move beyond buzzwords and translate their sustainability goals into tangible action.

We see ourselves as enablers and connectors within the sustainability ecosystem. We partner with organizations, co-create solutions, and foster long-lasting relationships to ensure they achieve their sustainability objectives.


     3.International Women’s Day & Looking Forward:


Q: What message would you like to share with other women on International Women’s Day, particularly those working towards a more sustainable future?

I am going to take the words of one of my guests in the podcast: Keep going! What you are doing matters, even more than you think. You’re an inspiration for so many people around you that will see what you do and why you are doing it, and follow you. And the more we are on this path, the better it is for our planet and people. 


Q: Looking ahead, what are your vision and goals for Mena Impact and its contribution to the MENA region and beyond?

My vision for Mena Impact is immense.  We see an endless horizon of positive impact across the MENA region and beyond. A key goal is for Mena Impact to be a leading role model, demonstrating how businesses can seamlessly integrate purpose with success. We’ll achieve this by consistently living our values, actively sharing our impact stories, and inspiring others to follow suit.

Our aspirations are multi-faceted. We’re committed to empowering Arab youth by offering them career opportunities within the sustainability sector. We also aim to significantly increase the number of organizations in the region that embrace B Corp certification, promoting greater transparency and impact measurement. Additionally, we plan to expand our network by establishing multiple new Hubs across the MENA region.

This is just the beginning. Stay connected with us!  Follow us on social media and visit our website for regular updates on our impact journey.


Q: In your opinion, how can we, as individuals and communities, work together to create a more sustainable and equitable world for future generations?

Building a more sustainable and equitable future for generations to come requires collective action.  As individuals and communities, we must embrace the power of challenging the status quo. Don’t shy away from difficult conversations –  speak up about the environmental and social impact of our actions, both personal and organizational.  These uncomfortable discussions are essential to spark systemic change within our society. By collectively raising awareness and demanding change, we can create a ripple effect that drives a more responsible and sustainable future for all.


Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Trust your gut! If something feels off, it probably is. I would tell my younger self to listen more intently to my intuition and have the courage to walk away from environments or people that don’t align with my values or purpose.


Q: What is one book or resource that has significantly impacted your life and work?

One book is The Infinite Game by Simon SINEK. I loved the concept of approaching business and life as an infinite game rather than a finite one.  It emphasizes long-term thinking, adapting to change, and embracing a mindset that goes beyond traditional competition.

Following the philosophy of ‘The Infinite Game,’ I find the B Corp movement to be an invaluable resource in my work. Just like the book inspires long-term thinking and purpose-driven approaches, becoming a B Corp leader has equipped me with the tools and knowledge to guide businesses towards a sustainable future with a positive societal impact. It’s incredibly fulfilling to utilize my expertise to support other businesses in aligning their success with the well-being of our planet and communities, creating a ripple effect of positive change


As we commemorate International Women’s Day, Nadine’s unwavering commitment to purpose-driven entrepreneurship and sustainable impact serves as a testament to the transformative power of women’s leadership. We are inspired to collectively strive towards a more equitable, inclusive, and sustainable world for generations to come.

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