Meet Leyla Karaha: Founder of YourY Network
YourY Network is a global community of social entrepreneurs and changemakers.
Over the past few months, we have all noticed an undeniable burst of energy within the social enterprise sector as Social Enterprises rise to the challenge of Covid with positivity, innovation, and collaboration. One forum which has really captured this energy has been the YourY Network meetups, in which founder Leyla Karaha has brought together inspiring practitioners from all over the world to lift our collective spirit and celebrate the amazing work that is being done.
We spoke to Leyla about what inspired her to launch YourY, and what her why or “Y” is…
What is YourY Network?
YourY Network is a global community of social entrepreneurs and changemakers. We aim to create an inclusive space for global social entrepreneurs and changemakers to connect and find synergy to collaborate. We facilitate this by hosting monthly online networking events.
What is Your Background?
I grew up in Tanzania and moved to Dublin when I was a teenager over two decades ago. I graduated from DCU with a BA in Accountancy and Finance in 2008. I worked for a very short period as a trainee auditor before I went back to DCU to study MA in International Relations. From 2013 till now, I have been working for different non-profit organisations in the finance area. I started my journey of social entrepreneurship last year.
Where did your passion for social enterprise come from?
I have always been passionate about making a difference in the world since I was a little girl. I had an ambition of setting up my own non-profit organisation later in life. However, after learning so much from the different non-profit organisations I worked for, I knew that I wanted to do something a little different, a mix of non-profit and enterprise but I did not have the word for it at the time. I did not know about social entrepreneurship. Then one day a few years ago, I discovered social entrepreneurship after attending a networking event organised by Catalyst. I think it was their first event in Dublin, hosted in Tara House. I had a lightbulb moment. I knew this was exactly what I wanted to do.
Tell us about the events you have been holding?
I was working on my fintech microfinance social enterprise idea last year and I found the journey to be very lonely. I wanted to meet and connect with other social entrepreneurs but there were only one or two events that were open to the public. This motivated me to host my first networking event for social entrepreneurs at the Startup Week Dublin 2019. Over 120 signed up for it and almost 80 people attended the event. I had so much fun and learned a lot. The icing on the cake was when some of the attendees told me that this was their first time hearing about social entrepreneurship and they too experienced 'lightbulb moments'. I hosted two more physical networking events before Coronavirus hit. Each of YourY Network events has different themes and all our events are free and open to the public. When the lockdown started in March, we had to cancel our April event. In May, we pivoted and moved our networking events online and aim to reach a global audience. We have been hosting monthly global online networking events since May.
What is it that you hope to achieve?
One of YourY Network's aims is to help raise public awareness of social entrepreneurship. We highlight and celebrate the work of amazing social entrepreneurs from all over the world. We connect like-minded people from different parts of the world. Diversity, inclusion, and equality are our core values, we celebrate these in each of our events. We hope to be the biggest global community of social entrepreneurs and changemakers.