Senior Profile: Sophia Jamal, '17

Published: 3 months ago | 0 comments

Sophia Jamal views her Innovation & Entrepreneurship certificate as much different from her public policy major, but complementary to it.

“The I&E certificate stood out to me because it was applying creativity and learning about innovation and entrepreneurship in any field,” she said. “At first, I thought that the certificate wouldn’t be applicable to me since I’m not a computer science major or an engineer. But the I&E admissions committee told me that this is for anybody, and there’s a lot of innovation that can take place in the policy space, as well.”

And now that she’s about to wrap up the certificate, Jamal can verify that entrepreneurial skills can be applied to any major.

Jamal was engaged in anti-human trafficking efforts before coming to Duke, and she chose a public policy major because she thought complex problems such as this had to be solved with the help of the government. But once she started the I&E certificate, she saw there were also other means to solve problems.

This is where her idea for Ethos came in.

As a consumer, Jamal realized it was difficult to find ethical brands for fashion unless she spent hours combing online search results.

Upon speaking to people in the ethical fashion industry, she learned that it was difficult for smaller ethical brands to access customers and compete against huge retail companies.

“My idea stemmed from creating a platform that could connect these two groups and could solve the pains on both ends of the market,” Jamal said. She imagines Ethos as “an online platform where all ethical fashion brands can come together and sell their goods in one marketplace.”

Although Ethos is still in the ideation phase, Jamal said she’s excited to see where she can take it. After graduation, she plans to return to her native Malaysia to experience the entrepreneurship space there.

She’s already worked in the space through one of her summer internships at a social enterprise in Malaysia, where she created a social media campaign for a major entrepreneurship summit. Jamal said she is impressed by how quickly the entrepreneurial scene is growing in Southeast Asia.

Whether it’s Ethos or another venture, Jamal’s ultimate goal is to start something of her own.

“For me, it’s about how do I capitalize on a business opportunity to create value for society?” she said. “The I&E certificate taught me it is OK to fail, and it’s important to push through with your ideas and validate all these assumptions with tools, including real market research and speaking to customers.”

To learn more about Sophia’s experiences as an I&E Certificate student, watch this video.

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