The chief executive of Leeds-based housing association Unity Homes and Enterprise has been included in the inaugural Inside Housing BME Leaders List which has just been published.
Ali Akbor, who has led Unity for more than 19 years, received special praise for his work in supporting people in starting their own businesses.
Inside Housing editor Emma Maier said: “When Inside Housing launched its Inclusive Futures campaign, we committed to showcasing positive role models as a means of promoting diversity.
“We celebrate just some of the people from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds who are making a daily difference in the housing sector.
“I congratulate everyone included in the list. They serve to highlight just why it’s so valuable our sector encourages diversity, and why Inside Housing will continue to push for it to do so.
Commenting on Mr Akbor’s inclusion, the judges said: “Unity was formed in 1987 with a very specific mission: to help BME communities in Leeds. But under Ali’s leadership, which began in 1999, the organisation has significantly expanded the areas and communities it serves, and the support it provides.
“Our judges were particularly impressed by his creation of Unity Enterprise – which supports local entrepreneurial activity and runs three business centres which are home to 80 businesses – and of Unity Employment Services, which has supported more than 1,300 people into work or training.
“One judge said: ‘It’s common to support people into work, but less common to be supporting people to start their own enterprises. That says ‘ambition’.’”
Mr Akbor said: “I am honoured and very humbled to be recognised in this way. Most importantly, it highlights the good work that everyone does at Unity on behalf of our tenants.
“A lot of credit also goes to our partners including Leeds City Council, Homes England and others who have helped us to deliver positive results and improve people’s lives.
“Unity Homes and Enterprise has exciting plans for future development, including an ever-growing number of new affordable housing schemes. I believe that many more good days lies ahead.”