Every year, the Cartier Women's Initiative nominates committed women entrepreneurs across the globe, providing them with the support and encouragement they need to continue driving change. This year, CEO and founder of Blooming Bs, Rihab Hasanain, made the top 21 finalists for her efforts to combat childhood obesity in Saudi Arabia. She was picked out of 1,200 applicants from 162 countries, a selection that is in itself a landmark achievement. This year, more than $1.1 million in prize money will be distributed among the finalists.
As a working mother and as a holder of a Ph.D. in health services management in Australia, Hasanain understands all too well the challenges that busy parents face today when it comes to providing their children with healthy meals. That is why she created Blooming Bs (brain, body, and box), a social enterprise devoted to providing school children with healthy and delicious food as a way to combat childhood obesity in Saudi Arabia and beyond. A health-conscious menu is delivered to schools and homes across the country, and provides work opportunities for Saudi women as well.
Today, the Kingdom has one of the highest rates of obesity in the world and the second highest in the Middle East. In fact, a recent report by “The Lancet,” a British medical journal, ranked the Saudi Arabia as the third worst in the world for obesity, triggering warnings from Saudi experts. Soon after that report was published, US scientists from Stanford University ranked Saudi Arabia one of the world’s least active countries, with obesity higher among women than men in the country.
Aside from the diligent efforts being made through private initiatives such as Blooming Bs, Saudi Arabia has also been undertaking nationwide initiatives to bring the people of the Kingdom back to better health. In 2017, for instance, Dow Saudi Arabia Company and Eta’am (the Saudi Food Bank), signed a Memorandum of Understanding that aims to encourage food preservation and healthier eating across the Kingdom, as well as reducing food waste.