ProFellows Alumna Exemplifies Compassion-Driven Innovation

Meet Rodaina Bou Shaheen. An alumna of the 2019 Professional Fellows Program, Ms. Bou Shaheen is the Founder of Reef Catering, a social enterprise in Lebanon that provides eco-friendly catering services to socially-minded organizations, while also empowering women from rural and under-served communities.

Reef’s main source of revenue comes from large events, which will likely be prohibited for the foreseeable future due to strict lockdown and heavy restrictions. These lockdowns have left Bou Shaheen and Reef with two options: close down operations or try something new. As a social entrepreneur, Bou Shaheen excels at thinking outside the box to identify new strategies to navigate unexpected challenges. Thus, in an effort to continue serving her community and empowering local women Bou Shaheen has decided to move her services online. 

Reef will be offering “Ready to Cook Products,” which will minimize direct contact with customers and adhere to strict health measures, while still providing quality home-cooked, eco-friendly meals. Additionally, Reef recently held an online training covering food safety for 35 women from North, South, Bekaa, Mount Lebanon and Beirut, Lebanon. This multi-day training aimed to increase the capacity of women from rural and under-privileged areas, empowering them with vital skills to work through these difficult times. Bou Shaheen’s ability to diversify her products while simultaneously maintaining her commitment to empowering women exemplifies compassion-driven innovation. 

“There are always opportunities to make the world a better place when the world most needs it,” says Bou Shaheen

Bou Shaheen would like to encourage fellow entrepreneur’s fighting this upstream battle to “swim with the current and be adaptable and flexible in matters of their ‘How’ but stand like a rock in matters of their ‘Why.’” Times of crisis threaten an entrepreneur’s ability to uphold his or her values or to reach his or her vision of a better world. However, times of crisis also unearth new opportunities to address persistent needs. While addressing those needs, entrepreneurs should simply expect to find a few unexpected roadblocks. “There are always opportunities to make the world a better place when the world most needs it”, says Bou Shaheen.

To learn more about Reef Catering and their inspiring work check out their Facebook Page.

The Professional Fellows Program is sponsored by the United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs with funding provided by the U.S. Government and administered by Legacy International.