BIOGRAPHY: Yasmin is a British Muslim and start up social entrepreneur. She’s also a survivor of domestic honour abuse. She’s a single mother who has now emerged from having battled bouts of abuse, poverty, and hidden homelessness to spearhead the funding and launch of Lovedesh, a new British luxury brand – with a heart. A passionate advocate for women’s rights and poverty alleviation, she grew up in SW London in the 1970s. As a young girl, she lived above a curry house and was hugely influenced by her strict orthodox Muslim father, an immigrant who forced her to take trips to his heritage nation of Bangladesh.
In 2016, Yasmin was awarded the Entrepreneur of the year at the British Muslim Awards for her efforts as a lone female social entrepreneur and her solo grassroots research and mentoring of disadvantaged people of Bangladesh. She has often written in the Independent on issues affecting gender inequality and particularly, rights of Muslim women. She was awarded joint winner of the Fringe World Travel Market 2014 for Lovedesh – created to smash stigma of developing nations.
As founder of British brand Lovedesh, Yasmin is introducing a new campaign model for poverty, that will give jobs to disadvantaged in the UK and partner with global artisans in order to smash ‘Third World‘ stigma, and fund and champion developing nations. She also runs a small niche charity, Amcariza Foundation, all in memory of her beloved Bangladeshi father and undertakes much grassroots work in the cities and rural villages of Bangladesh, helping to find solutions for marginalized communities including the UK.
Yasmin is a Fellow of The Royal Society Of Arts, London born and bred and graduated from the University Of Westminster with a BA Hons in Business Studies. After graduating, she spent 10 years as a communications professional, handling PR and Media Relations for top FTSE companies such as Barclays and the global PR consultancy firm Shandwick Communications and others. Once she had given birth to her daughter, she trained as a professional actress – to fulfill her dream to be creative – a chance she never got growing up.
9 Questions with the lovely Yasmin A. Choudhury
1. Tell us a bit about yourself and your background 🙂
I’m a British woman born in London and grew up above a London curry in the 1970s.
2. When did you start Lovedesh and the Amcariza Foundation and why?
For my beloved father – a feminist yet orthodox Muslim who always asked me to give back to his heritage nation of Bangladesh – we grew apart due to my life decisions, but our thinking and passion for philanthropy is now something that we share.
3. What are you most proud of?
Escaping my very ghettoised backward community where many of us are brainwashed as young girls into becoming dutiful and subservient for the purpose of empowering men; to then face the struggles and the conflict of living in a modern day society where we are expected to just fit in is not for the faint hearted! It takes its toll and can take us decades to make it out and to live independently. Also winning awards and getting profiled for the grassroots work I did for everyday folks as an ordinary lone mother with little language and no previous experience in charity or in Bangladesh – and the many people I am now privileged to have as my friends – from rural villagers to businessmen and women in UK & Bangladesh – as well as raising my daughter all alone with little help.
4. I know you did an essay writing competition in 2016 for girls in Bangladesh, what made you want to do this for them and why?
Because we need to hear their voices and what their dreams are. Often people in the developing world are not given access to take control of their narrative and struggle to find a platform and a voice. I want to change that as both Lovedesh and Amcariza is all about empowering local talent; within kids/students/local micro sole traders. We need many volunteers to help us at Amcariza, as it is run on a shoe string budget by myself and my best friend to keep it authentic by keeping our efforts focused on assisting the Bangladeshi people we want to help.
5. Did you have any teachers in school or business mentors that have made an impact on you and why?
Yes, the ones who told me off and went berserk at me for not fulfilling my potential, mainly my History and English teachers as well as my Math teacher Mrs Qualters (brilliant and old fashioned) – And today I now have my very own ‘Gandalf’: Peter Roche from St Mungos, who is a father figure and best business mentor who has been working with me day to day since 2015. He has helped rescue me so many times and given me such valuable advice and is a gift from the heavens. Also, the people I am meeting as a Fellow Of The Royal Society of Arts (RSA), who inspire me lots.
6. What has been one of your most defining moments in life?
“Yasmin is Yasmin” is my expression of who I am now because it is derived from my own choice, rather than always pleasing others.
And also, waking up and understanding how our society is structured and how it consistently fails people of colour, minorities, women, including those of all colours who have been raised in poverty, and the disabled, who often have so much talent but we will never know of them. Recently, I’m now understanding the unfair stigma and prejudice targeted at those on the Autism spectrum and how several elements of these injustices combined can prevent good people from reaching their potential. I’ve learned how they become further exploited and neglected, I’m also training as a professional actress at an English drama school and I’m currently developing my own performance show in UK based on my memoirs and thoughts, delivered by a series of talks called, “Miss YasminIsYasmin Talks”.
7. Why are the lives of women, girls and those in living in poverty so important to you?
Because society is currently imbalanced, and men need to give up their access to power to help reach a fair balance, as the consequences are dire. It is why sons who are now men or growing into adulthood are struggling in society without the touch and influence of merit based talented women. We women of talent need to take the seat at the table now. No more time to ask and wait and be politely waiting. As we sit and watch, we waste time, but also those who do not help us are complicit in why our society is broken, as some of my fellow women also do not welcome or allow women to flourish as they are also refusing to make changes needed to allow women to flourish. Margaret Atwood’s, The Handmaid’s Tale is an excellent book in which this theme is recurrent.
8. Why is your faith such an important compass to you and what can we learn from it?
Islam turned me into a feminist. Look at its history and instructions laid out in the Quran and the rights it is giving to women in the seventh century – financially/marital/educational – in order to empower and protect her; yet instead, many who hate this religion target it unfairly and rely on idiots who insist that we Muslims read the text literally. It is not designed to be interpreted literally; and it makes me so sad that we don’t understand why so much of this ignorance is being used to promote hate, and how I hope my fellow Muslims and I do more work to help educate and teach on the how-and-why (am on it), as well as fighting those who believe in a version of Islam which is fused with their own tribal laws and customs that then infiltrates our society to make a deadly cocktail, and goes against the very teachings of the Quran.
9. And finally, do you have any favorite books, poems or essays and why are they important to you?
When I was child and my parents were busy running a curry house, my local library was my after school club and make believe bedroom (as one of 5 kids I never got my own room until my mid 20s and only slept in a double bed when I hit the age of 30! Ha!). I would read and stumble across music and found cheap vinyl’s. This is how I developed love of the classics (Thomas Hardy), as well as classic composers Tchaikovsky, Handel, as well as Irish Music. I love folklore and satirical essays and musings of the likes of Jonathan Swift – while F Scott Fitzgerald’s short, Bernice Bobs Her Hair as well as Somerset Maugham’s The Luncheon makes me chuckle wildly and delightedly.
You can connect with Yasmin or make a donation to Amcariza at: