Powerlist 2020 reveals Britain’s most influential black people

Following the list’s recent publication we take a look at the people who are shaping the country

MOST INFLUENTIAL: Ismail Ahmed, founder of WorldRemit

Ismail Ahmed, founder and chairman of pioneering digital money transfer company WorldRemit, was named the most influential black person in Britain on the Powerlist 2020.

The list highlights the 100 most powerful people of African, African Caribbean and African American heritage in the country.

Ahmed was born and raised in Somaliland during the country’s civil war. He left for the UK in 1988, a journey that took over a month before he arrived in London.

One of his first jobs in this country was picking strawberries.

He also held down several jobs in order to send money to his family back in East Africa.


The challenges that came with sending international payments sowed the seeds of an idea that became WorldRemit.

Today the company employs 700 people across 6 continents and serves a diverse customer base that spans more than 30 nations from its London headquarters. 

SUCCESS: Ishmail Ahmed

Ahmed said: “It is a real privilege and honour to win this award. When I was growing up in Somaliland, I saw how money sent back home by migrants could transform the lives of individuals and entire communities. 

“When I came to London to study and started to send money back home, I was frustrated by the inconvenience and cost of transferring money through traditional agents. I was determined to find a better way and I set up WorldRemit in 2010 with the mission of making it easier and faster for migrants to send money home.”


He added: “Today World Remit is one of the most global Fintech firms and has attracted diverse and talented teams in London and around the world. This honour is a testament to their hard work and passion for the company’s mission.”

Michael Eboda, Powerlist 2020 publisher said: “The Powerlist is delighted to celebrate these 100 amazing people. Ismail is a true pioneer whose company is shaking up the remittance industry and positively impacting the lives of people around the world.  His story is incredibly powerful and an inspiration to us all.”

Ahmed is joined on the list by world renowned makeup artist Pat McGrath and founder of eponymous billion-pound cosmetics line Pat McGrath Labs.

McGrath has been hailed by American Vogue as the most ‘influential makeup artist in the world.

This year she was among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people alongside Michelle Obama and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.


Beverley Johnson, hailed as the world’s first black supermodel, described Pat as a ‘legend’ and ‘creative genius’.

She told TIME: “When I started modelling there were no black makeup artists. It was a challenge to look our best. Pat McGrath allows us to be seen. Her make-up is not just nice make-up – her bold, beautiful colours make a statement. You usually don’t get that with world-renowned makeup artists.”

LEGEND: Pat McGrath

Also on the list is acclaimed grime artist Stormzy.

Described as the ‘voice of the people’ Stormzy, real name Michael Omari, began rapping at the age of 11.

He turned to music full-time after working in quality assurance at an oil refinery in Southampton.

After gaining plaudits on the grime scene he later won Best Grime Act at the MOBO Awards.

He followed this feat by becoming the first unsigned rapper to appear on Later with Jools Holland.

Last year Stormzy announced that he would be funding scholarships for two students a year to attend Cambridge University.

IMPACT: Stormzy

It will fund tuition fees and maintenance grants for up to four years.

Another notable name on the list is the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

New entrants on the Powerlist 2020 include model and activist Adwoa Aboah, Michael Sherman, Chief Strategy and Transformation office for BT and premiership footballer Raheem Sterling.

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