Ep #92: Remote Social Enterprise with Lorraine Charles
Be A Brilliant Remote Worker

 
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Do you have a burning desire to change the world? Do you want to work for a social organisation or start your own? If yes, yes, or yes, how might you kickstart your organisation remotely? How might you put in place the foundations of a remote social enterprise when you have no funding in place to hire a team?

This week on the show we chat to Lorraine Charles, founder of Na’Amal, who shares how she’s doing exactly this.

Na’amal is a social enterprise that supports refugees and vulnerable populations to be successful remote workers by providing soft skills training and workshops as well as mentorship and links them to dignified employment, as well as to the global community of remote workers.

NB. Watch this space. The website is being re-designed by remote refugees as we speak.

Lorraine gets things done with an ad hoc team of mission-minded professionals, all with full-time jobs in other organisations. She leverages the benefits of engaging them remotely across 4 times zones when needed, playing a virtual tag team to get things done. Lorraine talks about the benefits of agility, diversity & the range of experience she’s been able to curate as a result of kickstarting her mission remotely. I hope you enjoy it.

Key highlights from this episode

Being a remote organisation across time zones empowers the agility to get things done quickly & smoothly, 24-7.

I have the agility to do things very quickly… Often, I can go to bed and think, “I haven’t done this task. I need Lena or Candace to do it.” I send her a message to say, “It’s the middle of night for me, can you do this?” So when I wake up, I just log on. And I think, ‘Ah, it’s done.’ So having that range of time zones means the task can get done, whilst I’m sleeping. For me, that’s really, really important.

When your mission is remote, then your company should be, too.

The mission of the company is to promote remote work for refugees. For me, it seems paradoxical if I had a company that was traditional that promoted this narrative and we didn’t ourselves operate that way. For me there was no other choice but to do it this way. My co-founder is in Paris; I live in the UAE; we’re registered in the UK. So for us, there was never any other option, but to do it this way.

The Covid-19 pandemic has provided proof of concept for remote work for many companies.

COVID has proved our concept for us. Before COVID it was so difficult to get companies to actually conceptualize hiring anyone remotely, or hiring a refugee. But when COVID happened, COVID proved our concept that remote work is possible, is viable, and many people can do it. So that’s one barrier which was completely destroyed, deconstructed because of this global pandemic we’re living through. I do have to thank COVID for changing the narrative of companies, changing the perception of companies, and making them realise that what we’re doing isn’t completely crazy.

Passion for the mission drives organisational culture.

The passion behind what we do is helping others is supporting the work of vulnerable communities of refugees and vulnerable populations. So I feel our culture is based around this that; we feel good doing this work, but also we’re actually making an impact in the life of someone else. And, it’s only when you hear the stories, that makes us all realize what we’re doing.

The main challenge of a bootstrapped social enterprise is funding, which affects the how fast things get done.

Our challenge is due to the fact that we’re just bootstrapping at the moment. I guess the challenge is [the team] has lots of other power priorities at different times; getting things done; getting things done as quickly as I perhaps would like it. I’m someone that needs to be a week ahead of schedule. I can’t be like that for this project, because I’m depending on others with the other commitments. For me, that’s I find the biggest challenge.

Having a team members with remote experience is really appreciated.

50% of my team worked remotely before COVID. With us being familiar with this and not forced into it, because of COVID, we were able to sort of, you know, everyone’s pretty laid back, no one gets stressed if something isn’t done when they want it, and exactly how they want it. And I feel that’s really important that we all sort of, you know, we all sort of understand that.


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