Refugee-turned social entrepreneur named UK’s young Entrepreneur of the Year

A refugee-turned-social entrepreneur who provides outstanding care services to the elderly and upskills talents with a refugee background to be professional carers across West London has been named Young Entrepreneur of the Year at the UK final of FSB’s high-profile Celebrating Small Business Awards, co-hosted by TV presenters Clare Balding and JJ Chalmers.

Abdul Shiil first came to the UK from Somalia with his family under asylum seeker status in 2001 and settled in West London. Inspired by his mother, who used to run a charity for disenfranchised Black and ethnic minority women, Abdul went on to build his social enterprise Sahan Cares in 2012, with a vision to give back support he received to the community.

His company offers training programmes to potential carers and employs them for care services to elderly people and those in need. All of his employees are from a refugee background.

Starting with only three staff at the beginning, Abdul is now leading a team of 90 carers who have since successfully delivered more than 600,000 hours of services. His family-run social enterprise has evolved from a start-up to a high-growth business with more than £1.8 million annual revenue, now operating in three West London boroughs.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised Abdul for his efforts in driving up vaccine uptake in the black and ethnic minority groups and reaching a 100% vaccination rate within his organisation.

Abdul is a regular speaker at business conferences with a focus on corporate social responsibility. He is also a doctoral candidate currently researching on the relationship between elderly people and technology advancement.

FSB Celebrating Small Business Awards is the most high-profile event of its kind nationally, with more than 3,000 entries, and showcases the best of small business entrepreneurship in every part of the UK.

Sahan Cares Founder Abdul Shiil said: “It’s a great honour to receive this high-profile national award from FSB, and I am very proud of the social enterprise enterprise we have built with our team of carers.

“Having gone through my very own experience as a member of a disadvantaged group, I’m committed to empowering people with similar background and providing support to those in need.

“This award is a morale booster for our plans to extend services to people in need of mental health support.”

FSB National Chair Martin McTague said: “It’s encouraging to see how Abdul has not only built and developed his social enterprise but been so generous in contributing his time and efforts towards the greater good within our communities. Small businesses are agents of social change, and I wish Abdul in taking his organisation from strength to strength.”

FSB Regional Chair Michael Lassman added: “Delighted to see London entry Abdul Shiil win the UK Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in Glasgow – what an inspiration”.

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