Desi Dolls, a small business based in Stanmore, Harrow and founded by Farzana Rahman, has achieved a significant milestone by winning the esteemed Inclusive Innovation Award grant from Innovate UK.
The company, known for its range of educational toys that teach children about the Islamic faith, will utilise the grant to fund the development of two innovative and interactive toys.
Innovate UK, the national innovation agency of the United Kingdom, plays a crucial role in supporting the growth and commercialisation of new products, services, and processes for UK businesses.
Desi Dolls has already gained recognition for its popular toys such as Aamina, Yousuf, and the Original Dua’ Pillows. These soft, cuddly, and educational plush dolls and pillows recite verses from the Quran in both Arabic and English. Targeted at children between the ages of 3 and 6, the toys also feature catchy songs.
The origins of the award-winning Stanmore, Harrow Business
Farzana Rahman, the founder of Desi Dolls, left her successful career in investment banking 15 years ago to pursue her passion for creating educational resources for Muslim children. Her dedication and commitment have resulted in over 50 different faith-inspired interactive toys and several accolades, including Businesswoman of the Year at the Islam Channel Business Awards, SME Business of the Year at the Saverah Women in Business Awards, and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International Trade in 2022.
Expressing her excitement, Farzana Rahman said, “Having the vision and the plans on paper are one thing, but actually making them materialize is another ball game altogether. The Innovate UK project spans 12 months ending March 31st, 2024, and already it doesn’t seem long enough! I will be working very hard between now and the end of March 2024 to create these two fantastic Islamic educational resources.”
The prestigious Inclusive Innovation Award grants each winning company £50,000 to further develop their inclusive innovations. Innovate UK aims to promote innovation that benefits and engages with all segments of society. The award recognizes the importance of designing products and services that consider accessibility and inclusion from the outset, fostering commercial success while mitigating the risk of deepening inequalities.
Farzana Rahman noted the significance of representation in toys, stating, “It’s so important for children to feel represented by the toys they see on the toy shelves, so they feel included and gives them confidence in their Muslim identity.”
Where can you get the toys?
Desi Dolls’ toys are currently stocked in the FAO Schwarz toy department of Selfridges, as well as in 140 Asda and Morrisons supermarkets across the UK. With the Inclusive Innovation Award, the company aims to expand its reach by seeking partnerships with other major toy retailers.
Innovate UK’s Inclusive Innovation Award supports various groundbreaking projects, ranging from AI-driven smart gloves that translate sign language into speech to interactive voice reminders empowering people with dementia to live more independently. By investing in inclusive innovation, Innovate UK aims to bridge gaps and ensure equal opportunities for all members of society.
As the demand for educational toys that promote inclusivity continues to grow, Desi Dolls’ success in securing the Inclusive Innovation Award showcases its commitment to empowering children and creating a more diverse and representative toy industry.
For more information about the Inclusive Innovation Awards and Innovate UK, please visit their official website.