Chamber of Commerce & Initiative appoints social entrepreneur Jaya Chakrabarti as president

September 24, 2021

Bristol-based serial social entrepreneur and community activist Jaya Chakrabarti MBE has become the new president of city’s Chamber of Commerce & Initiative – the membership and lobbying organisation at the heart of regional group Business West.

Having served as vice-president for seven years, Jaya, pictured, replaces outgoing president Richard Bonner, who is stepping down after more than three-and-a-half years in the role to chair the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Jaya, the founder of the award-winning social enterprise TISCreport, is the chamber’s first female president in its 198-year history and also the first from a British Asian background to take on the role.

She brings a diverse skillset, a wide range of professional experiences and an impressive track record of achievement to the region’s biggest business group and one of the UK’s largest and most influential chamber networks.

Jaya made her name in the creative industries as co-founder of Nameless, one of Bristol’s leading digital agencies, which she set up in 1999.

After receiving an MBE in 2014 for services to the creative digital industries and community in Bristol, she set her sights on tackling modern slavery using big data.

The resulting platform (Transparency In Supply Chains Report) – a certified B Corp – started trading in 2016 and is now the world’s largest corporate transparency platform of its kind, tracking some of the largest public and private sector organisations in the world.

More recently she has been working on, an afforestation-with-data platform, enabling corporate landowners to take climate action.

Speaking at the first in-person meeting of the Chamber of Commerce & Initiative (BCCI) since December 2019, Jaya told members: “Our chamber network has grown on the foundations of a strong love and vision for the West of England. I am proud to be part of the West of England Initiative and our network of chambers.

“It takes a special sort of business leader to recognise that a sustainably successful business can only thrive where there is social and environmental justice. And we have these leaders in spades.”

Richard, pictured, Bonner added: “I’m absolutely delighted that Jaya has taken over the reins.

“Jaya has been an incredibly active member of Bristol Chamber & Initiative over many years. She has fully supported me as president and has really influenced much of what we do as Bristol Chamber & the Initiative.”

BCCI chief executive James Durie described Jaya as “a true polymath” who had been a driving force behind its focus on a range of issues from innovation and climate change to improving local democracy and education and skills.

“As our region’s businesses and communities emerge out of the pandemic, Jaya will help spearhead our work to rebuild the local economy by putting sustainability, inclusion, fairness and a business-like approach first. She is someone who makes things happen,” he told the gathering on the SS Great Britain.

“I look forward to working closely with Jaya in her new role and I think I speak on behalf of our whole businesses community in welcoming and celebrating her appointment.”

In addition to serving as BCCI president, Jaya will continue in her voluntary board roles at the Home Office, Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Oasis Academy Brislington Hub Council, University College London and University of Bristol.

She also represents BCCI as a director of the newly established community interest company Bristol Future Talent Partnership, which aims to make the city the fairest and most racially equal place to live and work, with a particular focus on providing talented young people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds with education and employment opportunities.

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