Asma Shah

CEO, You Make It

Having spent much of her career in management roles within cultural and creative sectors at organisations such as Channel 4, Roundhouse and Creative Skillset, it was during Asma’s time as a fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme, which coincided with the passing of her late single immigrant mum, that inspired her to create a truly effective self empowerment programme for young, working class and largely BAME women in East London to claim a right to their city and become connected to the social, cultural and economic life of it.

Motivated by her back story of growing up on a council estate in Peckham and living in Bethnal Green for 17 years, Asma chose to set You Make It up as a fight back against inequality, the devastating effects of austerity cuts and increasing gentrification in London. She wanted to empower other women from similar backgrounds to herself to access the confidence, skills and knowledge to transform their lives.

Established in 2011 as a virtually funding-free pilot, You Make It was set up from Asma’s kitchen table, but 7 years later is still going on strong. She has been able to develop the programme from being largely funding free for the first 12 months, and having operated without a team for the first 5 years, into what is now a fully-funded charity. YMI’s back-to-back programmes combine creative workshops, mentoring, work placements, business initiatives and a holistic approach including a focus on wellbeing, therapy and pastoral care to guide its young women to claim happier and more independent lives for themselves.

While working at a local level, Asma has also established strong cross-sector partnerships with high brand value organisations for women to get a foothold into industries traditionally out of reach to their demographic. Just some partners to date have included Royal Opera House, The Barbican, National Theatre, Publicis.Sapient and Tommy Hilfiger.

Asma was recently acknowledged by Financial Times as an ‘Architect of Meritocracy’ and in 2017 received a ‘Precious Award’ for social entrepreneurship.


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