Laura Rana

Lisa is an authentic East Ender of Polish and Irish descent. Lisa cares deeply about the community and making Tower Hamlets safe and inclusive for everyone, having always lived and worked locally. She started her career as a market trader and from an early age was honing her entrepreneurial skills. Lisa went on to support at-risk young people with legal issues and appeals. As a community volunteer, Lisa has raised substantial funds for education and charitable organisations and has strategically supported many more.

Lisa is a fellow of The School of Social Entrepreneurs, graduating in 2013.

She was also recognised in 2021 by being a winner of the Social Innovation Prize. This is is awarded annually by Trinity Hall College Cambridge, and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation based at  University of Cambridge Judge Business School. It is given to a few chosen individuals for their achievement to date and for their ambitious plans for the future.

As the founder of Social Ark, Lisa helps grassroots social entrepreneurs, whom she describes as ‘hidden gems’, to use their lived experience to develop social businesses and to create a better life for themselves and the community around them.

Laura Rana is the founder of Khushi Kantha (Happy Blanket) Community Interest Company, an award-winning social enterprise creating opportunities for mothers in Bangladesh to provide for their children with dignity and contributing to the circular economy.

Laura was inspired to start Khushi Kantha by the birth of her half-British, half-Bangladeshi twin daughters and her long-standing dream to use everything she’s learned from many years of living and working in Bangladesh to support other mothers, whose position she could easily be in herself if circumstances were different.

Khushi Kantha’s first collection of sustainable, multi-purpose baby blankets, hand-stitched from hand-woven, hand-dyed cotton fabric and ‘embroidered with empowerment’ by mothers in Bangladesh, was funded through a successful crowdfunding campaign. Following publication of their first Impact Report, they are now focused on expanding their product range and exploring new sales channels.

Khushi Kantha is regenerating the Bengali ‘kantha’ tradition of repurposing old saris into ultra-soft, multi-layered baby blankets in order to global product safety standards, while retaining its circular principles. They partner with sustainability-minded members of the Bangladeshi garments industry to breathe new life into ‘deadstock’ cotton, by upcycling it as the lining of all their products.

Laura runs Khushi Kantha alongside her ‘day job’ helping organisations that inspire her to measure, communicate and enhance their impacts. With over fourteen years experience across the international development and humanitarian sectors, her work with NGOs including Save the Children, the British Red Cross, War Child UK has taken her to over twenty countries, from Sierra Leone to Mongolia, and Iraq to Paraguay…but Bangladesh remains her favourite place in the world!

Laura holds a first class degree in English from Oxford University and a Masters in Development Studies in SOAS, and is about to commence an Mst in Sustainability Leadership at the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership.

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