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Middle East’s first wellness plan for entrepreneurs launched

Named ‘Peace & Purpose’ Programme, EMPWR’s new initiative has been developed in partnership with the Universities of Canada’s Entrepreneurship Center.

EMPWR, the UAE-based organisation behind the Middle East’s first mental health magazine, has announced the region’s first-ever wellness programme for entrepreneurs. Named the ‘Peace & Purpose’ Programme, EMPWR’s new initiative has been developed in partnership with the Universities of Canada’s Entrepreneurship Center.

The three-phase programme has been developed meticulously to give participants long-term benefits. Unwind, the first stage which commenced on March 3rd, included a weekend getaway, meet-and-greet sessions and mindful activities. The ensuing Delve and Revive phases will equip entrepreneurs with the right tools, knowledge, and outlook to invigorate their lives and aspirations. Spanning three months, the program will engage participants on a hybrid model of online interactions and offline meetups in different, interesting locations.

“After EMPWR’s joint research with Microsoft for Startups and WAMDA, the grim findings led me to a path of compassion and consideration towards entrepreneurs’ mental wellbeing. The Peace & Purpose program is the culmination of this path. My deepest gratitude to the University of Canada’s Entrepreneurship Center for joining hands for this righteous cause,” said Ally Salama, Founder of EMPWR.

A “Forbes-30-Under-30”-famed social entrepreneur, keynote speaker and podcaster, Ally Salama is a name synonymous with mental health advocacy in the Middle East. His work was recognized in Harvard’s Top 7 Impactful Social Initiatives in 2019, and by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health. He has continued his wellness drive through his “Empathy Always Wins” podcast, which is Apple’s #1 in the Youth Leadership category.

Consistent with Ally’s words are the findings from the joint research: Startup founders and entrepreneurs in the region were twice as likely to face depression and related issues than other sections; 35.9% of founders rated their mental health as “bad”. The situation is equally dire across the globe, with other studies suggesting that 30% of startups fail due to the emotional state of founders, 8% fail due to founder burnouts, and 13% fail because founders lose focus.

“The general perception on entrepreneurs is that they are go-getters who are impervious to all the curveballs that life throws at us. In contrast, however, entrepreneurs find themselves increasingly facing mental health struggles. Understanding that the solution must be holistic, we have devised a program that will involve professional psychologists as much as, say, hikers. To all the entrepreneurs joining us, I’d like to say one thing: We will break the cycle,” added Ally Salama.

Staying true to his intention of providing holistic, life-cycle support, Ally Salama has promised to continue his association with the participants beyond the program, through monthly meetups and within a community platform for entrepreneurs. The community platform, aimed at creating a safe space, promoting best practices, and facilitating access to resources for startup founders and entrepreneurs, was launched recently by Ally Salama on the sidelines of the STEP Conference.

The dedicated program and platform for entrepreneurs come on the back of EMPWR’s bid to drive mental wellbeing in the MENA region through a multi-pronged approach of partnering with both private and public entities. Its partnership with Sharjah Capability Development (Tatweer) for the launch of Wathba, a mental wellbeing and leadership development program focused on youth, is perhaps a good case in point. But, taking nothing for granted, Ally Salama maintains that he is only getting started, that the best is yet to come.

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