+44(0)20 7036 8899 info@whitewatergroup.eu

Camila Batmanghelidjh was born in Tehran, Iran. There she lived what she has described as an “unbelievably sheltered” life, protected by the social standing of her wealthy Iranian father and Belgian mother, until the age of 11, when she moved to England, where she attended Sherborne Girls’ School. Two short years later her privileged life was shaken to its core by the effects of the Iran Revolution, because of which her father was arrested and her older sister committed suicide. Alone and powerless in the UK, Batmanghelidjh sought work, forced for the first time to scrape together support for herself, and started working with children. Here she found her calling, and as early as her 20s, whilst others were forging their education or breaking their way into the job market, Batmanghelidjh founded her first charity, The Place To Be, which sought to provide therapy for school children. Batmanghelidjh’s constant struggle to keep the charity afloat has lead her into many realms of life, from the basic scraping of funds, to courting city bankers and celebrities. These two sides of the coin combine her double upbringing, allowing her to draw upon the high society behaviour of her childhood, and the more realistic, down-and-dirty fight for everyday cash that she was forced to learn through tragedy. Her greatest success to date is Kids Company, which she had founded by her early 30s. This charity reaches further than she has before, offering support in all aspects of life, practical and emotional, for approximately 14,000 disadvantaged inner-city children. Some might find it strange that a woman with so much love to give has not had any children of her own, a question she answers very honestly. Batmanghelidjh is clear that she does not feel she could maintain both her commitment to her charity’s children and her own, an example of how her commitment to the assistance of others has affected not only her public, but also her personal life. The result of this deep personal commitment is that it is said that 91% of the children that pass through Kids Company’s doors return to education, and the charity has reduced their crime and drug abuse by 90%. Not just to be applauded for her charitable nature, however, we must also see Batmanghelidjh as a formidable figure in business and politics. She has influenced politicians across the board, from Gordon Brown to David Cameron. Camila Batmanghelidjh is a woman who, from the strangest of starts, worked her way up in the system, using all of her talents and in spite of all her problems (such as a severe dyslexia that stops her from using computers) to a point where she can hold sway among the men at the pinacle of our system. In 2009 the Women In Public Life Awards lauded her as Business woman of the Year. She leads the way, not only in charitable work and personal sacrifice, but also stands as a figure of authority for women breaking their way into business and politics. Always colourful, sporting joyful clothes that echo her exuberant personality, Camila Batmanghelidjh is a shining example of why we should not allow personal tragedy to hinder us, but instead should take our trials and build upon them. Not only an example of hard work, determination and personal sacrifice, Batmanghelidjh reveals the female ability to see the joy in life, and to help others find the joy in theirs. Women of all walks of life, whether striving for success, or attempting to enrich their lives, should take inspiration from this woman, who has braved the harsh world of politics and business, who has helped so many and who continues to be an advocate for those without a voice. By Jessica Bird

We’d love to hear from you!