Empathic Urbanite

social business for urban development

Who is the Empathic Urbanite

Who is the Empathic Urbanite?

(First posted 28th October 2011 – last updated 28th April 2014)

My name is Jobeda Ali and I am the founder and CEO of Three Sisters Care, a care agency that provides carers for older people and for young adults with disabilities. We currently work across London and Essex (UK). I am a social entrepreneur and my humble dream is for Three Sisters Care to become the John Lewis of the social care sector; that is, to be the benchmark of a profit-making business that is also a responsible employer, shares profits with all workers, is socially caring and environmentally sustainable.

The topics I’ll explore in this blog will be the obvious things I need to understand like the cooperative movement, which I currently know very little about, so it’s great that I’m starting the blog in the International Year of Co-operatives. I’m also going to work out what social business in urban environments means, as a way to help me and my readers create a coherence about our role in society and especially in social change.

The blog will also chart my personal development – what tools will help me become a inspirational leader? How do I persuade a sector full of private shareholders to go down the social business route and share profit with our workers? How do I become a spokesperson for sustainable business practice within a sector driven by stark doctrine on one hand and regulatory restrictions on the other? How do I persuade both customers and public service workers that our sustainability values are worth more to our society and our planet than the £2 an hour that they’ll save by going with an unethical provider.

So what about me? Well, I started out as a youth worker in Tower Hamlets when I was 17 and continued to work with disabled youth through my summer holidays while at Cambridge University studying anthropology, literature and history. I joined the public sector when I graduated in 1996, working first with the Department for Work and Pensions, piloting and delivering employability programmes. I also worked with the Department for Education and Skills to create the Tower Hamlets Millennium Volunteers programme, I ran the widening participation scheme at Cambridge University and I established the mentoring programme at Tower Hamlets College. I then decided to go freelance in 2002.

My freelance government consultancy work morphed from education and training into entrepreneurship as I became more and more entrepreneurial myself. I worked with the Home Office, Look Ahead Housing and Care, Learning Skills Council, London Development Agency and many universities. Recently I’ve also been working with private sector corporations to imbue their work with social enterprise principles and have worked with Capita, H&M and KPMG.

I started my first business in 2007, Fair Knowledge. Fair Knowledge aimed to promote marginalised voices, mostly women, in mainstream society through film training, film production and our flagship events, the Cineforums. During the first year, I became one of 20 global Rising Talents 2007 for the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society and Fair Knowledge was also recognised as one of 100 Global Transformational Projects at YES and Tallberg Forum‘s Rework the World Conference in 2010. In 2010 I was Winner of the Ogunte Social Business Leader of the Year Award.

I am also writing this blog under the auspices of Global Urban Development (GUD) of which I am a Fellow. The blog is an experimental relationship to see what a GUD blogger might bring to the GUD family and how we might use the blog as a way to connect and promote the work of all our Fellows from across the world.

My LinkedIn profile is here: http://uk.linkedin.com/in/jobedaali – and I’m always happy to accept new business connections.

Finally, just to understand me a little bit more, my hobbies are astronomy, reading/watching/writing science fiction, most things geeky and techy and I’ve started a new career as a stand-up comedian. I’m not very good at it. But I live in hope.

Jobeda Ali

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