Israeli campaigner, career booster and filmaker celebrated at Ogunte awards / by Claudia Cahalane

Jobeda Ali of Fair Knowledge won the Social Business Leader 2010 award at last night’s Ogunte women’s social leadership awards, in conjunction with the RSA. Ali is pictured with speaker Dr Rachel Armstrong.

A woman who campaigns for family rights in Israel, the founder of a company which increases the career prospects of women in top organisations and a woman who helps under-represented groups get their voices heard all picked up prizes at the Women’s Social Leadership Awards 2010.

The awards, which have three prize categories, were held in London last night and organised by social leadership support organisation Ogunte, in conjunction with the RSA.

  • The Campaign for Social Change award was won by Irit Rosenblum, founder of New Family.
  • The Leader in the Workplace award was won by Samantha Collins from Aspire Companies.
  • The Social Business Leader of the Year prize was taken home by Jodeda Ali, who set up Fair Knowledge.

Servane Mouazan, director of Ogunte – which launched the awards four years ago – said she has noticed several trends with this year’s entrants.

‘They have been much more explicit about their social impacts, more forthcoming with talking about how exactly they are earning money through products and services and, in general, we received more interest from international organisations,’ she said.

Ali, who is a School for Social Entrepreneurs graduate said she was ‘very happy, but surprised to win the award’

She said: ‘I don’t feel like I really fit the definition of a social entrepreneur put across by organisations like the School for Social Entrepreneurs or Social Enterprise London and I think my social impact is really hard to measure, so I never expect to win these awards.’

She was motivated to start the organisation, which currently makes 20 per cent of its income from events and consultancy, after a stint in film making from 2004 to 2007 and 12 years in the public sector.

‘I got a lot of interest as a film maker, but when I pitched an idea relating to the World Trade Organisation and was asked to do something about forced marriage instead, because of the way I look, I was angry.

‘People are stereotyped and restricted and because of this no one gets a true view of what’s going on in the world. I want to change this, to create “fair knowledge”. So we try to open up chances for people to do what they want to do in media and other sectors.’

Rosenblum, who founded Israeli organisation New Family in 1998, campaigns on behalf of the majority of people in Israel who fall outside the government’s definition of family and thus lack many rights that traditional families get. The organisation also tries to reunite families who are on different sides of the divide in Israel.

Samantha Collins, who was unable to attend, was praised for her work with 10,000 women in UK companies to advance their career. She also works with companies to ensure they understand the benefits of respecting and promoting women. She recently set up the Aspire Foundation for business women in the UK to mentor and coach women in the developing world.

Mouazan said: ‘I hope women in the audience, and all women, will be inspired by the talent and the audacity of the winners and the speakers.’


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