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Javad Marandi: A beacon of hope for underprivileged communities

Their names may not be widely known among the wider public, but in leading London social circles, Javad and Narmina Marandi are key figures.

The couple is investors in the Anya Hindmarch handbag brand, owners of the Conran Shop, and have interests across the spheres of hospitality, fashion, art and international relations. Through their Marandi Foundation, they are also the key funders of the Prince and Princess of Wales’ Royal Foundation.

Their work and connections even led the Evening Standard to recently christen them “the most connected couple in London”.

While largely shunning the limelight, Marandi has not only built up an extensive fortune through investments and entrepreneurship, he has also devoted himself to transformative charitable work.

Success often brings with it controversy and recent allegations, which he strongly denies, have led to questions being asked about him. Those who know and work with Marandi find him an inspirational, ‘can-do’ figure, with an ability to bring people together to achieve shared goals.

Who is Javad Marandi, and how did he become one of the UK’s leading champions of underprivileged communities?

Triumphing Over Adversity

Up until his tenth birthday, the young Javad Marandi must have had a carefree existence.

Born in Tehran in 1968, at a time when Iran was prospering due to rising oil prices, his settled early years would be shattered a decade later by the Iranian revolution.

The son of a property developer and a teacher, his family had no links to the previous government but were regarded with suspicion by the new Islamic authorities. When the pressure became unbearable, the family decided to flee the country for a small flat in Notting Hill they’d previously used as a base for European holidays.

Escape was not straightforward, with Marandi’s father being detained in the country for an extra year after he, his sister and mother moved to London in 1979. Having had their assets seized, the Marandi family had to start again in a new country.

The transition was challenging, and the Marandi family faced numerous hurdles as they rebuilt their lives.

Yet, Marandi embraced the opportunities presented to him in his adopted homeland. He taught himself English, drawing inspiration from popular culture, and immersed himself in his studies. Marandi’s dedication and perseverance paid off as he excelled academically and pursued a degree in electrical and electronic engineering at Cardiff University.

Later qualifying as a chartered accountant at Coopers & Lybrand, Marandi would go on to work for Coca-Cola, driving forward their expansion into Central Asia and the Caucasus. As an entrepreneur, Marandi established successful joint ventures with Motorola, and then focused on establishing the McDonald’s franchise in the country.

Meeting Azerbaijan-born Armina, the daughter of a renowned oncologist, the couple decided to move back to the UK after starting a family.  As well as being a key investor in the Anya Hindmarch brand, Marandi also owns the upmarket Soho House and Soho Farmhouse, an exclusive reimagining of the country club in the Cotswolds.

This success has allowed Marandi to pursue his passion for philanthropy, using his fortune to spread opportunity and transform the lives of people born into adversity.

Commitment In Action

The Marandi name is synonymous with philanthropy. Founding the Marandi Foundation in 2017, the couple provides opportunities for training, education, and vital mental health support services to underprivileged young individuals and communities. The foundation is committed to providing pathways to success and independence for young people whatever their personal circumstances and background.

The Foundation gained recognition as a “core funder” for The Royal Foundation, established by the Prince and Princess of Wales. In addition, the Marandi Foundation has made substantial contributions to various other projects. A key example is the provision of bursaries for talented young people to attend St Paul’s School, a leading educational institution in London.

Marandi also has a pivotal role at Centrepoint, the UK’s leading youth homelessness charity. He has been helping to develop services as head of the Growth Board, not least the new Independent Living Programme. This groundbreaking initiative combines work opportunities with stable accommodation for young people aged 16-25 in London and Manchester. With investment it’s hoped the project can be scaled up across the country and has been hailed as game changing.

A Catalyst for Positive Change

For Marandi, making money has always been a means to an end.

He and Narmina have demonstrated how success and societal influence can act as catalysts for making a meaningful difference.

With his own personal journey of overcoming adversity and challenging circumstances, Marandi is dedicated to ensuring that young people have the opportunity to develop their talents and achieve success, regardless of their start in life.

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