MEET AMIRAH, SOcial Impact Trailblazer

Curious. Optimistic. Frivolous. When asked to describe herself in three words, Amirah chose these. Why Frivolous? “A lot of people use that word negatively, it should be something you embrace, the fact you can enjoy things light heartedly and don’t find everything to be serious”.  Quite a contrast to her day job leading the social impact strategy at AWAY, a direct to consumer luggage startup based in New York. 

How did you become interested in Social Impact?

My original plan was to study Law here in the UK and fulfil my childhood dream of working for the UN, but, as luck would have it I received a scholarship to a college in the US. Through that I was able to broaden my studied and found myself interning at Warby Parker, a cool startup pioneering social responsibility in business at the time.  There, I realised the agility and the focus on brand and experience a startup could take, allowing it to have an incredible and more significant impact. You can reach a wider audience because people are more likely to care when a brand tell them as opposed to a nonprofit. And so developed my interest in the concept of business for good.

Why does social impact matter to a company like AWAY? 

Social impact has been built into the company from the very beginning. I was freelancing with AWAY even before any product was on sale, to see how a brand can have an impact from the start. The founder had experience with nonprofits and an interest in international relations, on top of building a successful business, they wanted to make a significant impact in the world.

Where are you travelling to with AWAY?

Currently we are working on a partnership with an organisation called Peace Direct, which works in conflict zones. This took me to Nigeria and the Congo to their local partners. I’ve also visited China to check on our factories as we place a large emphasis on how we produce our products.

How has travelling the world changed your perspective on social impact?

Travel gives you that broader perspective and scope on what’s really going on in the world and it equips me to make a bigger impact. Being exposed frequently to more ideas and people and to new approaches to doing things, lends itself to innovation in the space. As for how it affects my views on Social Impact? Everytime I go somewhere, I see how much need there is. These are not issues you’re exposed to on a day-to-day basis in New York City or London. There are many ways to make a difference but you’ll never make a difference everywhere. Making a difference somewhere is better than nothing.

What apps are you using when travelling?

DAY ONE - it’s great for journalling, capturing memories and profiles of interesting characters I meet. My must have.
VSCO - for all my photo editing needs.
MONZO - this is a recent addition, it’s gives me a great FX rate when I’m elsewhere and I know exactly what that is because of the instant notifications.
TRANSFERWISE - being back and forth between two countries, I’ve had to use this several times recently. I set up a bank account in the US and Transferwise does a shockingly amazing job at channeling my money back and forth.

A book you can recommend for our next flight?

White Tears by Hari Kunzru.