Born and raised a working-class East Londoner, Lisa is driven to address the inequalities on her doorstep. Social Ark’s mission is to empower 16 to 30 year-olds living in East London communities by supporting and guiding them as they use their lived experiences to develop their social enterprises. This is an entrepreneurial programme truly rooted in ‘place’ and locally led, creating a springboard of positive action that has resulted in sustainable change.
Founder and CEO, Lisa Stepanovic, and her team, deliver a programme of workshops, mentoring and one-to-one support tailored specifically to harness the skills and talents of young people who are feeling increasingly disenfranchised in East End communities that are that being gentrified.
“We support young people from working class backgrounds, to use their lived experiences to lead the change they want to see, and we use the social enterprise business model to do that. We run structured learning programmes and provide expert mentoring, with continued wraparound support with business issues and personal issues.”
Lisa has ensured that, through the Social Ark family, social impact and sustainability are at the heart of her work. Those who have made their way through the programmes are trustees on the board, with alumni also part of the senior management team.
Of Lisa’s work and her win, Cambridge Social Ventures Programme Director, Nicole Helwig says:
“The winners of the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize are visionaries and drivers of social change. They identify entrepreneurial opportunities through insights based on empathy, experience and a deep understanding of the social challenges they address.
“Lisa Stepanovic of Social Ark honed in on gaps in services for working class youth, becoming their champion and empowering them to empower others. This prize celebrates social entrepreneurs like Lisa who challenge systemic barriers and break new ground with their innovations”.
Listen to Lisa’s full interview ‘The social ark of East London’ on the Social Ideas Podcast