Yasmeen Maqbool, an all-time softie is the Features Editor of Filmfare ME, Salt ‘n’ Peppa and Femina ME. Her passion lies in telling stories about people who do what they do because it matters.
At the age of 16 she knew where she would be at 30. Believing that the “business” of love is powerful, Natasha Rockstrom, an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, initiated InJoy Giving – a gifting website to spread joy and happiness.
She has always been an entrepreneur at heart, starting her first business at 19 by painting houses in Montreal. Her professional experience started in corporate finance moving ahead into real estate and business consulting. Along the journey she realized she wanted to integrate business and service.
Today at Injoy Giving, she alongside her volunteers, are innovating generosity entrepreneurship. “Our purpose is to connect people through acts of giving that awaken an inner happiness that is a real kind of magic.”
How did you find your calling in joy and giving?
I always felt a strong pull to giving. From visiting ashrams as a young child to business school to embarking on a threeyear unplanned and unpaid adventure, I volunteered and learned about social enterprise. These experiences forced me to redefine my relationship with money and that forever changed the future of how I engaged in the monetary world. I realized that we don’t own money or land or resources but rather are guardians or stewards of that resource. My inner knowing of that I was always a child of the universe empowered me to always ask and I’ve always received more than I ever needed.
From gathering a crew of colleagues to gifting muffins around the office building, to walking into high-stake business meetings with the question, “How can we come together and bring generosity and love back into our community,” I’ve continued with an open heart, an open mind, and open will to serve.
My inspiration has been my grandmother, who lived a monastic life with only a few possessions that fit in a small bag, a heart big enough to take in the whole community and a peaceful smile with a big hug. From her I learnt that the biggest acts of generosity are embedded in the small things.
You believe that the “business” of love is powerful, tell us about that one experience that brought home this
Reflecting on our journey, we arrive at our own happiness as being one of the most powerful forces for change. A turning point that stands out is a social experiment where we organized a group of elementary students and EMBA colleagues to come together and experiment with the power of giving. We sold t-shirts to raise money to buy bananas. Then we sold those bananas on the streets of Stockholm in exchange for hugs. Buy a banana, pay with a hug. We delivered 1,200 hugs and the stories of happiness ripples etched the learning in our minds. Giving created happiness value for both the giver and the receiver! The kids felt empowered in making a difference and smiles rippled everywhere. When we truly give, we receive in happiness, and we spontaneously create joy in people and the environment around us. Every generous act or kind thought has the power to change the world, while changing us from within, and it’s a real kind of magic. From there the idea to connect people through acts of giving was born.
Tell us about your generosity events.
We’ll be hosting Karma Kitchen – a volunteer-driven experiment in generosity with our Injoy Hero Neha Phukan this month. Imagine a restaurant where there are no prices on the menu and where the check reads AED 0/ Priceless with only this footnote: “Your meal is a gift from someone who comes before you. To keep the chain of gifts alive, we invite you to pay it forward for those who dine after you.”
We’ll also be hosting Love letters to strangers at Pantry Café with our Injoy Hero “The Goodwill Tribe.” It’s a
gathering where the community is invited to write positive and uplifting letters of love to strangers who are in need of love and support. We receive letter requests from the community and at the end of the event, the handwritten anonymous letters are packaged into gift boxes and delivered to the unknowing recipients for a happy surprise.
We’re co-creating generosity events with everyday heroes in the community to give back and create love and kindness in our everyday lives! These events are also a way for anyone to come and experience the power of giving first hand. You can volunteer, get inspired or just show up and enjoy the fun and happiness of giving.
Share with us an act of kindness that has stayed with you inspiring you always.
The power of a hug or a simple smile goes a long way. When we were selling bananas on the streets of Stockholm in exchange for hugs with a group of elementary schools kids, a 12-year-old boy came across an elderly woman who hugged him tightly as she said “I live alone far away from my family and I haven’t had a hug in a long time.” That moment is etched in my mind and teaches me that we each have the power to give in any moment with simply our smile, our kind words, or even a hug, and that the feeling of happiness that it can bring is truly priceless. What is really priceless in our lives is available to us in each and every moment – it’s a choice.
Do you think people can be inspired?
YES absolutely. Inspiration comes in many forms – your kids’ smiles, your loved ones’ praise, a home-cooked meal with love. Each of us when given the opportunity to give can do so. Many times we believe that a big act is equired of us in order to truly give or be of service. Simple, small acts of invisible service are the most powerful in the world – the ripple effects of them reach far and wide and we can never truly understand their value.