LDC Top 50 2022
ISA Support Services
Instead of following his dream of studying politics at university, Sunny Araf flipped burgers and cleaned toilets to provide for his family. He worked as a police officer before starting ISA Support Services in Birmingham in 2011, building it into a multi-million-pound security and support services business.
Following the death of his three-year-old daughter Khadijah in 2018, he set up the ISA Foundation to help other families going through hard times. Projects range from supporting local food banks to delivering aid to refugees: “My mission is to support vulnerable people. The more the business makes, the more we can give back.”
My mission is to support vulnerable people. The more the business makes, the more we can give back.”
What made you start your own business?
My mum was a seamstress and my dad rented out VHS tapes from his car boot. They made sure we had a roof over our heads and food on the table – but it was a struggle. I didn’t want to be in that position when I was older. I wanted to be my own boss and have financial independence.
How did you get the business off the ground?
My cousin Janed and I started ISA Support Services in 2011. We each put £4,000 into a bank account and said, “that’s what we’ll live off until this business starts making money.” I would spend all day in the office and then work security shifts at night. Now we employ more than 300 people, providing security guards, receptionists and maintenance staff to clients such as Hilton Hotels and McDonald’s. It doesn’t matter where you’re from, and it’s where you’re at that is important.
What’s your ambition?
Last year, the ISA Foundation gave thousands of pounds to charity. I recently took six members of staff out to Lebanon to deliver aid to refugees. Ultimately, I want to help millions of vulnerable people all over the world. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.