180 Seconds with Roberta Ventura NOW speaks to the founder of SEP Jordan

180 Seconds with Roberta Ventura
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Roberta Ventura founded SEP Jordan in 2016 after her twenty-year career in Investment Banking and Asset Management.  SEP Jordan is a social enterprise, fashion and lifestyle brand which blends Italian style with the finest Middle-Eastern craftsmanship, with the aim of bringing back dignity and pride to refugee camps. Roberta is a strong believer and advocate of refugees’ right to employment, education and empowerment – the key instruments to reach confidence, determination and self-sufficiency.

One word that describes You?

Doer

What project are you most proud of when it comes to sustainability? 

SEP stands for Social Enterprise Project – it started off as a project, hoping we could prove that employment can replace dependence on aid in refugee camps. We are trying to demonstrate refugees can and should be active economic actors, as opposed to a risk to themselves and to society. We started with 20 ladies who happen to be refugees in 2014 and today we work with over 500. I am proud of the fact that the life of the ladies who work with SEP is changing for the better.

Which is your favorite part of your job and which part do you enjoy the least?

Favorite: The positive corporate culture we have put in place, where we all work as colleagues, driving with all our forces in the same direction.
Enjoy the least: The patience required to achieve our goals.

What is your personal indulgence?

40min daily yoga routine, which my husband and I started during lockdown.

In 2019, climate change activism sparked the support of millions worldwide, conscious people young and old protested, unified in their demand for governments and companies to take urgent action and reduce carbon emissions to net zero by 2025. Has Covid-19 lessened the urgency in 2020?

I think COVID diverted the attention briefly, but did not alter the course of the movement to reduce carbon emissions. On the other hand, when we ask ourselves if there is a correlation between pollution and COVID cases, we are reverting the dialogue back to climate change. We all saw how the planet started breathing again during global lockdown, i.e. we have clear evidence of the strain we are putting the earth under on a daily basis. One challenge created by COVID is how to dispose of gloves and masks, but I am confident we can establish new routines and contain the pollution generated by these newly ubiquitous items.

What would you say to those who do little to nothing for the good of communities and the environment?

They cannot complain about social unrest or the effects of pollution, because they are one of their root causes through their inaction. Action is no longer a choice driven by kindness, it has become a necessity.

How can we build a more stable and just world after the Covid-19 crisis?

With or without COVID, building a more stable and just world is an emergency – how do we do it? We must keep sharing stories of impact and we must all walk the talk, to begin with.

How are the next generation of leaders different from current ones?

Not sure I can add any value here – I do not think there is much difference, i.e. some will be good, some will be bad, just like current ones.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warns that we have less than 8 years in our carbon budget and we will reach 1.5°Celcius (35.6 °F) above pre-industrial level, a half degree away from severely destabilising our climate and worsening the climate extremes we are already experiencing today. What must happen NOW to get people to change attitudes and behaviour?

It must be NOW that each of us makes an effort to read, watch videos and movies, such as Cowspiracy for example. We need a database of easy-to-read and easy-to-watch educational materials which we can share widely so that each of us can start questioning all our daily purchase and consumption habits.

What is your personal favorite place to stay that’s trying hard to be accountable and transparent around sustainability with no greenwash allowed?

We have tried to stay at the Feynan ecolodge in the Dana Biosphere Reserve in Jordan several times, but it is always fully booked – remains a place I would love to stay at one day.

What legacy would you like to leave behind from your leadership?

Empathy and common sense that can solve most problems.

Who is your greatest influence?
Malcolm X

Best advice you have been given?

Manage your emotions so that you can stay rational in business.

Your best advice to the young generations concerned about their future?

Research, breathe, act and don’t take no for an answer.

Any regrets?

None: every experience and decision has been a piece of the puzzle which I’ve tried to learn from.

SEP Jordan supports SDG 1: No Poverty  View HERE

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