Asif Aziz is a property entrepreneur and philanthropist. He is the Founder and CEO of Criterion Capital, which is the largest landowner between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square. His portfolio includes some of London’s most iconic buildings, such as the London Trocadero and the Knightsbridge Green Estate.
“I have been very fortunate to have had significant success as a property entrepreneur. The path has, however, not always been simple. My family were forced to leave Malawi, where I was born, when I was six years old. We re-built our lives in the UK, which I am grateful and proud to call my home. Making my life here a success is the result of hard work, coupled with a very clear understanding of what I am trying to achieve.
My goals are simple and rooted in my Memom Gujarati heritage. The first is to provide for family, and future generations, a comfortable – not extravagant – lifestyle. The second is to make the biggest possible positive difference for all those around me.
And so I have worked hard to accumulate wealth not simply for myself, but for the communities that I am a part of. It is of such importance to me that it is written into the governing documents of my family trust, which ultimately owns all that I’ve built.
My charitable focus has always been on improving the life chances of people who, purely because of the circumstances of their birth, have been disadvantaged.
That’s why internationally I have provided, among others, long-term support for charities including Camfed – a brilliant NGO that works to eradicate poverty across Africa by empowering women. Many cultures, including my own, traditionally do not prioritise the education of women. If we are to build a truly just and successful world, that has to change. With a similar ethos of removing the barriers that people face to leading full lives, I have also supported Seeing is Believing and Thokomala (in partnership with Unilever).
And it is why I founded the Aziz Foundation three years ago in the UK. The important challenges range from signs of rising poverty in Britain, such as homelessness, the use of food banks and the lack of social care, to more structural disadvantage. People and communities face these daily challenges that limit their ability to make the most of their potential and play a full role in our society. I am honoured that The Aziz Foundation has the opportunity to support organisations that genuinely change lives, bring together our communities and work tirelessly to make our society more compassionate and just.”