Shoppinglee helps break poverty cycle for Haitians, Palestinians and more

Sponsored feature: presented by Social Ventures Zone at Ryerson University

The Social Ventures Zone at Ryerson University is home to unique entrepreneurial initiatives that are designed to make a positive impact in a variety of communities, both in Toronto and beyond. See all of our profiles here.


Who’s involved in this project? 

CEO and founder Dara Jarallah, project manager Emily Bowers, CFO and European brand manager Hilal Zraiq, digital director Sahil Bharmal and director of business development Samuel Gill.

What are your goals for this project? 

Dara Jarallah: Shoppinglee is a social enterprise that empowers marginalized artisans by selling their arts and crafts. The process allows them to break the poverty cycle through economic empowerment and financial education. Each artist’s journey starts with us providing mentorship opportunities, which leads to business success that then promotes their art and their creativity. Overall, the artisans are more able to share their stories with the rest of the world.  

What is the biggest challenge you’re facing?

DJ: Some of the biggest challenges include the need to educate customers about sustainable fashion.

Can you explain the mentorship process available to you through the Ryerson Social Ventures Zone (SVZ)? 

DJ: The partnerships with the zone in the Ryerson entrepreneurship ecosystem allowed Shoppinglee to tap into resources to produce a new collection, test the supply chain and expand the artisan network to include more artisans around the world. Most importantly, Shoppinglee had the opportunity to receive coaching and feedback, which has been the foundation to build a more efficient supply chain. Through the generous support, we have been able to finance and support artisans in their local markets. 

The Ryerson SVZ is all about leveraging innovation to make a social impact. How will your project affect the communities you’re targeting?

DJ: Our team is continuously striving to increase consumers’ awareness about ethical and sustainable fashion. We target young fashion-forward individuals and corporate clients with corporate social responsibility (CSR) alignment. Shoppinglee has assisted eight artisans in the process of achieving financial independence and running their own businesses. Overall, our efforts have created 37 employment opportunities and empowered close to 300 individuals through business training. 

Have you been able to obtain any feedback from people who stand to benefit from your project? If so, what have they told you?

DJ: One of the artisans we work with is Amal Kamal. A single mother from a Palestinian town called Beitunia (near Ramallah), she has told us the following: “Shoppinglee has allowed me to connect with the rest of the world. I feel free and empowered since people all over the world desire my creations.” 

What kind of public or private partnerships are you hoping to make (if any) to help grow your project?

DJ: Shoppinglee connects with artisans through partnerships with the local grassroots organization and international organizations that work with artisans. Its mission is to grow and empower artisans around the world since global unity and interconnectivity is at the core of our values. 

Imagine if you could scale up your project to its full potential. What would that look like?

DJ: In the future, we want Shoppinglee to be able to work with marginalized artisans all over the world and defy all the barriers faced by borders, politics and geographical distances.

Timing is a crucial factor that contributes to the success of a social venture. Why is now the right time for your project?

DJ: Many people are looking for meaning and stories behind their purchases. People have become aware of the need for ethical and sustainable supply chains. 

Is there anything else about your project we should know? 

DJ: We have won the following awards: Slaight New Venture Competition ($25,000), Kimel Family Campus-Linked Accelerator Fund ($7,500), Sheldon + Tracy Levy Aspiring Innovators Fellowship ($5,000), The 125 Fund Award ($1,000), Enactus Canada Regional Competition in Entrepreneurship (third place), Shopify Student Entrepreneur and Best New Initiative Award by Ted Rogers’ Students Society (TRSS).

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