The life story of Iranian-born, British businessman Javad Marandi is a remarkable one.
Today, he’s a fixture at the top table of British public life, a friend of politicians, artists, thinkers and pop stars alike.
With his philanthropic work, he’s highly connected to the UK’s leading movers and shakers and has also made a significant contribution to public welfare.
He and his wife, Narmia, were recently called “the most connected couple in London,” by the Evening Standard, but it’s in the field of youth development where he is really making a difference.
While recent allegations, which Marandi vehemently denies, have led to him becoming more widely known for the wrong reasons, his philanthropic idealism is inspired by his own experience.
From settled life to refugee
Javad Marandi understands what it means to live with uncertainty.
He also knows how even the most settled of existences can be disrupted by unforeseen and uncontrollable events.
Born in Iran in 1968, the son of a teacher and a property developer, the country was enjoying unprecedented prosperity as a result of the oil boom. Like many middle-class families in the Tehran of the late 1960s and 70s, the Marandis must have felt like the good times would last forever.
At the time, Iran was widely regarded as a cosmopolitan, successful state with a settled constitutional monarchy and a broadly liberal society. In a turbulent region, the country was seen as a stable presence, but that changed with the Iranian Revolution that ushered in a hardline Islamic regime.
Despite having no connection to it, Marandi’s father was treated with suspicion by the new regime. As pressure on the family intensified, they made the difficult decision to flee to a small flat in Notting Hill that they’d previously used as a base for a European holiday. At the time, Notting Hill was not the trendy, developed area it is today and the young Javad Marandi found himself in an alien environment.
While Javad, his sister and his mother were able to move in 1979/80, his father was denied a Visa for another couple of years and the family assets were seized by the state. This exacerbated the family’s difficulties, forcing them to start over in a different land.
Finding himself in a strange country, Marandi taught himself English by immersing himself in pop culture, later admitting: “I can literally recite the words to every song by The Police, even the obscure ones!”
While he can now make light of his early experience in the UK, it was a formative one. As well as wanting to ensure the personal success that would secure his stability, he also developed a desire to help others achieve.
Business success and philanthropy
After completing an electrical and electronic engineering degree at Cardiff University, his career saw him progress through roles at Coopers & Lybrand and Coca-Cola.
He then moved into entrepreneurship opening up new markets in Azerbaijan with McDonald’s and later forging a career with Motorola. After meeting his wife and starting a family, the couple moved to the UK.
Once there, the couple established themselves as prominent philanthropists with a mission to provide underprivileged young people and communities with opportunities for training and education.
Setting up the Marandi Foundation in 2017, it is now a core funder of the Royal Foundation, an organisation founded by the Prince and Princess of Wales dedicated to tackling important issues and making a positive difference in society.
Alongside this, the Marandi Foundation has also set up bursaries to enable talented young people at St Paul’s School, in London.
A driving force at Centrepoint
Over recent years, Marandi has played an important role in developing services at Centrepoint as co-chair of the Growth Board. One key initiative to which he has been pivotal is the Independent Living Programme.
This combines employment and training with affordable accommodation to provide the building blocks for a stable, successful life for vulnerable young people. It’s Marandi’s vision that this innovative blueprint could be developed and rolled out beyond the 16-25 age group, to provide affordable housing and employment for all ages.
It’s this passion for positive change allied to practical, real-world solutions that have led to Javad Marandi being regarded as one of the UK’s leading philanthropists.
With his own remarkable story as inspiration, his drive to provide opportunities for disadvantaged young people is making a practical difference in countless lives.