We pride ourselves on producing globally minded, critically aware and socially conscious graduates who are looking to change the world. Many of our students go on to create their own businesses and organisations – and now, new research has ranked SOAS as one of the top five universities in the UK for producing CEOs, entrepreneurs and Managing Directors.
The study, which was carried out by Hitachi Capital Invoice Finance, analysed data from over 8 million alumni who had left 121 UK universities since the year 2000. In particular, they looked at those alumni who had gone on to become either CEOs or Managing Directors, or founded their own business.
We have an impressive record of entrepreneurial alumni who go on to found businesses and not-for-profit enterprises, many of which align with SOAS’s social justice values. Take a look at some of our graduates – and the companies they founded.
Lavinya Stennett: The Black Curriculum
There is currently a gaping hole in history lessons at school level — Black history just doesn’t seem to feature. Former SOAS student Lavinya Stennett, who graduated with a First Class degree in BA African Studies and Development Studies, wants this to change.
After graduating from SOAS, Lavinya launched a social enterprise called The Black Curriculum (TBC) — this organisation does what it says in the tin — but also so much more. The Black Curriculum seeks to incorporate arts focused Black history into the curriculum for students aged 8-16, with the aim of increasing understanding and social cohesion.
‘My time at SOAS inspired me to think about how to teach. How to get people to interact with knowledge. The general feedback we’ve had about The Black Curriculum has been that young people want more of this. They learned more about their heritage, and enjoyed the focus on collaboration.’
‘In the next five years and beyond, I’d like to take TBC nationwide. People need to know. Teaching black history should be normalised. I hope that can be within the next three years, and that schools won’t need us. I also want to take this into different countries. There are Italian black people, French black people, they all face erasure in some way or another, and there is a need for it. In five years, I hope that Britain knows about us, and we can start to scale outside the country.
Angelo Eduardo Da Costa Mengowako: Vocal Communities
MSc International Politics and Diplomacy student Angelo Eduardo Da Costa Mengowako is one of the three founders of Vocal Communities, a London-based organisation helping disadvantaged communities.
Angelo explains ‘Vocal Communities (VC) is an ethnic-minority led organisation founded by first-generation immigrants who have all grown up in London, UK. We’re passionate about helping disadvantaged communities by giving them the skills and education they need to influence change. VC has a wide range of skills and talent, but we intend to use this to better others instead of our own careers exclusively.’
‘Vocal Communities was created as an alternative way to create political pressure and encourage policymakers to address the urgency of the persistent inequalities that the BAME communities encounter, and find a solution best to engage more BAME people into politics and policy involvement.’
Angelo believes that his time at SOAS helped him create VC: ‘The culture around SOAS made me feel like a student with unlimited potential; I love to socialise, campaign and debate, which opened my eyes to many issues overlooked by me and society.’
Hussain Hilli: Skrap
BA Economics and Chinese graduate Hussain is an entrepreneur at heart, having founded Skrap, an online marketplace for construction hire services and materials, and co-founded Byoot, a construction company. ‘As Founder and CEO, I am responsible for the day-to-day leadership and general management of Skrap’, Hussain explains.
Hussain is clear about how SOAS helped develop his leadership skills: ‘Whilst at SOAS, I ran a number of societies, played for the SOAS football team, and organised and held the licence for TEDxSOAS. These experiences no doubt played a role in shaping my leadership, confidence and general management skills of people, operations and finances.’
His choice of degree has also proved vital. ‘I studied Economics and Chinese: understanding markets, general economic frameworks and financial modelling has always been a great asset in the business world, and my Chinese comes into play at times when negotiating a deal or investment.’
‘As far as a fully comprehensive experience of academia, debate, culture, friendships and extra-curricular goes – SOAS is the place to be. I have no doubt that the university will continue to produce world leaders across diplomacy, politics and business.’