Posted by Matt Register

Nadeen Mustafa, Executive Director of Taiba, talks about empowering women and their non-profit in Houston.

Please excuse any typos in this hasty transcript.


Jay Curry: Hello Texas. Welcome back to Texas Business Radio. We’ve got a great program going today, we’re having a lot of fun, and this segment is going to be very interesting. I think you’ll find it very informative, and I think we’ll learn a lot about a culture that maybe we don’t know as much as we should.

I’m Jay Curry, your host. Matt has stepped out, he’ll be back for the next segment. Let me remind you before we get started, that just relax, sit back, everything that we do is on texasbusinessradio.com in beautiful color, and everything about our guest, the interviews, are all in texasbusinessradio.com. You can learn about our sponsors. We also monitor phone 24 hours a day. What’s that mean? That means you can wake up in the middle of the night with a question that you wish that I wish that I would have asked Nadeen or Suzanne, and you can pick up the phone and call 844-814-8144. Get that message into us, we’re going to hear it, we’re gonna get the specialist, we’ll get them back, we’ll get you the answers, and we will get them on the air for you. 844-814-8144 24 hour call in line. We also monitor #tbr if you like Twitter. #tbr as in Texas Business Radio. But, the real place to go is texasbusinessradio.com.

All right, let’s get started. We’ve got in the studio Nadeen, who is the executive director of Taiba USA, and

Suzanne. I’m going to let you ladies pronounce your own last names, if you don’t mind. Who’s actually the founder, right? Of Taiba USA.

Suzanne Itani: Yes.

Jay Curry: Let me start by first of all, pronounce your names for me.

Nadeen Mustafa: Sure. Nadeen Mustafa.

Jay Curry: Nadeen. And you’re the executive director of Taiba USA. And then, Suzanne?

Suzanne Itani: Yeah, Suzanne Itani.

Jay Curry: Itani?

Suzanne Itani: Itani. Yeah.

Jay Curry: And you are the founder of this organization. Let me ask, what is Taiba USA? What’s this all about?

Nadeen Mustafa: That’s a great question Jay. Taiba is actually an organization that their main goal is to empower women and vulnerable members of the Muslim community through three different buckets. Social gatherings, mentorship, and skills building. And actually, Taiba is an acronym, so we can all learn to spell it, as well as pronounce it.

It’s T for teaching. A, advocacy. I, inclusion. B, building, and A, advancement. And all of these are for women by women. It’s something we’re really proud of.

Jay Curry: This is a women’s organization, it is Islamic based?

Nadeen Mustafa: Mm-hmm (affirmative)

Jay Curry: What are you doing? What are these ladies? Are they all muslims, and what’s this group all about?

Nadeen Mustafa: That’s a great question Jay. The whole point of this organization, with Suzanne’s wonderful vision, was we have such a diverse, and young, vibrant community in Houston, and nationally in the US, that tends to be a little bit misunderstood, and we could totally talk about that. That’s an understatement of the year.

Jay Curry: Yeah. I can tell.

Nadeen Mustafa: We thought, you know what? Let’s start with the women. Because investing in women is always the best way to communities moving and shaking, and changing things up. That’s what we believe. So, we thought, let’s build a gap of programs for women by women in our different places of worship. Muslim based, but we work with a diversity of different partners as well.

Jay Curry: Yeah, so you’ve partnered with a lot of organizations here in Houston to be helpful to the Muslim women community.

Nadeen Mustafa: Exactly.

Jay Curry: Okay. Talk to us a little bit about some of those partners.

Nadeen Mustafa: Sure. It’s been such a blessing, since we began in last May, to be approached by different private sector partners, as well as non-profit partners. We just did a Senior Social and Health Fair last November, in partnership with Methodist Hospital, which was wonderful. Very well received.

We’ve also worked with non-profits such as Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, Amaanah Refugee Services. We’re also starting a big partnership with Volunteer Houston. Which is going to be really fun, because it has a lot of diversity with our volunteers. We’re excited to be getting so much momentum in the community.
Jay Curry: Is it fair to say you’re trying to help the Muslim women community to be what? More sociable, more understanding, learning about the culture that they’re in?

Nadeen Mustafa: That’s a great … It’s a lot to process. So, what are we doing? As I mentioned earlier, the Muslim community in the US is actually the most diverse and young community of any faith group. We love the word diversity, we hear it all the time, diversity and inclusion. But, guess what? It takes a lot of work. Especially when you come from over 30 different countries, and different culture. A lot of baggage, a lot of history. How do we sift through that to do what we like to say, “To get over ourselves?” With the goal of focusing on inclusion.

What we do is, the whole goal for us to be successful I think as an organization, is to have the diversity of members of the Muslim community, African American, Caucasian converts, Pakistani, Arab, Asian, which is the biggest community of Muslims, coming together, and focusing on being women. And also, how can we just be better community members, more productive, and also better to ourselves. We work a lot with mental health for example, physical health, mentorship, etc.

Jay Curry: Talk to me a little bit about the ladies that you’re helping. ‘Cause I think the audience is probably thinking, “Well, we’ve got all these refugees coming in, and you’re getting them at the boat, and off the airplane.” But, that’s not really true. Right?

Nadeen Mustafa: That’s true.

Jay Curry: They are part of it, but not.

Nadeen Mustafa: Exactly. That’s a great point. We focus a lot on the vulnerable disenfranchised members, such as seniors, immigrants, refugees, but we serve them on an emotional level. Suzanne and I talk about this all the time. There’s a lot of people out there doing great work with housing, and food, and shelters. But for us, it’s about what’s the next step after that. I’m new to a country, or I’m new to a community, or I can’t drive. ‘Cause I’m living out in some other area of town. How can I feel included? How can I feel safe, and how can I grow as a person? That’s what we try to serve. We try to do it through our mentorship program, matching people, providing social gatherings where we can get to know each other. And we feel that, that really has a very deep social and emotional impact in our community as a whole.

Jay Curry: What does success look like for you? This is very interesting, and it sounds like part of what you’re trying to do is teach them the culture. You’re in America. Both of you are Americans, right?

Nadeen Mustafa: Right.

Suzanne Itani: Yes.

Jay Curry: You’re helping people who have come from other places, and matching them up with people like yourself that are from America, and teaching them the culture. But, overall for the organization, how do you define success? What makes it successful? What’s it look like?

Nadeen Mustafa: I’d love to hear Suzanne’s thoughts on that. It’s her vision, so I’ll pass it over, and then I’ll talk a little bit about our metrics, the economic side.

Suzanne Itani: Yeah. I think success is … really seeing the hearts get connected within. We have testimonials from, where they’re … Just an event we had on Saturday, we were asked to fill out something about, “How are you feeling here?” And at my table, next to me, was this refugee that had been in the country less than a year, and she wrote on there that she was feeling very comfortable there. That’s all about how we’re just … We want to reach out. We want those that are vulnerable, for any reason, connect together, and make these friendships. Once the emotional connections are there, and the friendships are there, then as a community we can really grow. We can serve others, we can do so many things. But, as a community, we have to interconnect first.

Jay Curry: That’s quite a culture shock to come from some of the other nations and then come into America. Especially if you have an Islamic background. What about, how successful is … How you [crosstalk 00:08:52]

Nadeen Mustafa: Sure. Yes. Besides the emotional side, we’ve had such success. We measure it with partnerships, right? So, we actually have worked in over 15 community centers in Houston, in our short life span. And actually are building another partnership with another 17. With the Islamic Society of Greater Houston. The overwhelming support, and the need, and the interest in our programming, I think is a sign of our success. Also, the reach in general.

In our very first event, we had over 40 volunteers come in and actually give over 500 hours of service. It was just a show of the overwhelming support, we also are really kind of nerds when it comes to metrics. We do a lot of surveys, a lot of testimonials. And, just outreach as well. Over hundreds and hundreds of likes on Facebook and Instagram. We feel like we’re really making a statement in the community, and people are feeling comfortable, safe, and able to grow.

Suzanne Itani: Yeah. And so many people are actually coming to me and saying, “Thank you so much for establishing this organization, because this is what we need.” Just that emotional support that we’re getting from so many women, from so many walks of life. It really provides the fuel.

Jay Curry: That’s a wonderful-

Nadeen Mustafa: Not just on the emotional side. We like to give these hard skills. Hard and soft skills. The ability to speak in an interview. When you are new to the country, you’re not super comfortable with your language, there’s a lot of different things.

Jay Curry: What a wonderful story. Thank you for coming. Thank you for passing this on. And folks, we’re gonna have to break, pay a few bills. But, you want to go to texasbusinessradio.com and you want to listen to this again. These folks are doing great work. Nadeen, how does somebody if they want to help, they’d like to maybe donate? How do they get a hold of you?

Nadeen Mustafa: That’s a great question Jay. Like any 501(c)(3), we depend on the donations and generosity of our community members. This is Muslim and non-Muslim. We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit. You can go to our website at www.taiba-USA.org, and click on the donate button.

Jay Curry: Wonderful. Thank you ladies so much. Very informative. All right, we’re gonna have to take a break, go pay a few bills. Don’t go anywhere, we’re going to be right back.

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About the Author
Matt Register

Matt Register

In addition to hosting "Texas Business Radio," Matt is an investment banker and serial entrepreneur from Montgomery, Texas. He is the owner of RREA Media and Register Real Estate Advisors and a Managing Director and Principal at Corporate Finance Associates. He has a BS from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an MBA from Rice University in Houston. You can read more about Matt HERE.

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