Desi Dolls wins Inclusive Innovation Award grant

Published on: 8th June 2023

Founder Farzana Rahman says the award means that Desi Dolls can now launch more educational toys that otherwise would have taken much longer to reach the market. 

Desi Dolls, a successful, female-founded company from North London which creates fun, educational toys to teach children about the Islamic Faith, has won a prestigious Inclusive Innovation Award grant from Innovate UK, meaning the company can now fund the design of two new innovative and interactive toys.

Innovate UK is the UK’s national innovation agency, helping UK businesses to grow through development and commercialisation of new products, processes and services. Companies in the UK have each been awarded £50,000 to further develop their inclusive innovations through Innovate UK’s Inclusive Innovation Award.

The Inclusive Innovation Award recognises that it is vital for all parts of society to engage with innovation as a process that they can both benefit from and contribute to. Inclusive innovation rejects the notion that a product or service should be designed around the ‘average customer.’ By ensuring that accessibility and inclusion are considered from the outset of innovation design, a business can maximise its chances of commercial success by broadening its potential customer base – whilst also mitigating the risk of creating innovations that deepen existing inequalities and widen societal gaps.

Desi Doll’s bestselling toys include Aamina, Yousuf, and also the Original Dua’ Pillows – soft, cuddly, fun and educational talking plush dolls and pillows, which can recite verses from the Quran in Arabic and English. The dolls include fun, and catchy songs targeted at kids between the ages of 3-6 years.

Farzana, an ex Goldman Sachs banker and mother of three, founded her company 15 years ago and has already successfully created over 50 different faith-inspired  interactive toys over the years, winning awards including Businesswoman of the Year at the Islam Channel Business Awards, SME Business of the Year award at Saverah Women in Business awards and Queen’s Award for Enterprise for International trade in 2022.

The toys are stocked in the FAO Schwarz toy department of Selfridges and have also enjoyed being in 140 Asda and Morrisons supermarkets across the UK. The company is now actively looking for other major toy stockists.

Farzana, who left her previous successful career to follow her passion of creating educational resources for Muslim children, and as a reference for children of all faiths and none, commented: “Having the vision and the plans on paper are one thing, but actually making them materialise 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 new Islamic educational resources.”

Farzana added: “This award from Innovate UK means that we can now launch two amazing educational toys that otherwise would have taken much longer to reach the market. It’s so important for children to feel represented by the toys they see on the toy shelves, so they feel included and are given confidence in their Muslim identity”.

To find out more more about Desi Doll toys, visit the company website here.



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