This story was originally published by The Philadelphia Citizen.
Yasmine Mustafa knows danger.
As a child, she and her family fled Gulf War-torn Kuwait. Since then, for most of her life, she’s been undocumented, vulnerable to abusive employers, yelled at by strangers to “Go back to your own country.” During her travels through South America, she learned of an endless stream of attacks on women. She’d seen the same in our own very high-crime city, including in her neighborhood.
And, she believed she could do something to help. “I’ve always had this naïve mentality that one person can make a difference,” she told the Philadelphia Citizen in 2015.
Yasmine Mustafa knows tech.
A graduate of Temple University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute, she created an advertising plugin that she sold to WordPress and brought Girl Develop It, a nonprofit that teaches women coding and web development, to Philadelphia.
In 2014, she co-founded ROAR for Good, a business that builds wearable, wireless panic buttons. Her first device was Athena, which, with a push, sounded an alarm, lit a light, and called 9-1-1. Mustafa wanted to get it in the hands of the most vulnerable. She gave a TEDx Talk about it, crowdfunded nearly $300,000 for it, won awards for it — and then had to reinvent it when manufacturing costs made it unaffordable to her intended consumers.
Yasmine Mustafa really knows how to pivot.
In 2018, she turned her B-to-C company into a B-to-B, adapting her device to hotel workers, specifically housekeeping staff, who experienced sexual harassment on the job at a rate of 58 percent. ROAR went on to supply Hilton and Marriott hotels nationwide.