Sufyan Ismail

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Sufyan Gulam Ismail
Sufyan Ismail
Born (1975-09-02) 2 September 1975 (age 43)
Bolton, Greater Manchester
ResidenceUnited Kingdom
EducationUniversity of Manchester, Economics and Corporate Finance
Known forRetiring at 39 to tackle Islamophobia
TitlePhilanthropist and Entrepreneur

Sufyan Gulam Ismail is a British entrepreneur and philanthropist,[1][2] ranked amongst the 500 most influential Muslims in the World. A graduate of the University of Manchester, he started his career with Deloitte. In 2001, he set up 1st Ethical, the UK's first FSA authorised financial services firm,[3] which he later converted into a charity. In 2007, he founded OneE Group,[4] a specialist wealth management and consultancy operation. Sufyan retired formally from full-time business activity in 2014 to tackle Islamophobia. Sufyan's businesses have donated over £5m to alleviating poverty, community empowerment and humanitarian relief.


Sufyan Studied Economics and Corporate Finance at the University of Manchester[5] and then commenced his professional training with Deloitte.[2] During his final exams his father died in a car accident.[6] He also holds the Advanced financial planning qualification (AFPC).


1st Ethical[edit]

In 2001, he set up 1st Ethical, the UK's first FSA authorised financial services company aimed at the Muslim community.[3][7] The company specialised in regulated investments and pensions advice with a strong focus on property investment. By 2003, the firm had become a national brand and was awarded UK's fastest growing company. In 2006, with margins falling in financial services Sufyan converted 1st Ethical into a charity for education and humanitarian relief.[8]

OneE Group[edit]

In 2006, Sufyan founded OneE Group,[2][4][9][10] a specialist wealth advisory service which aims to give clients tax breaks through R&D investment and other UK tax reliefs.[11] The company's growth resulted in it being ranked 57th in the Sunday Times Fast Track listing in 2011 and 53rd in the Sunday Times Profit Track Listing in 2012.[12] The company operates out of offices in Greater Manchester, London and Cyprus today employing approximately 80 staff.

'Islamic Private equity'[edit]

Sufyan is a keen proponent of non-interest based finance and has written extensively on Islamic financing models. He also runs a Private Equity business,[13] which invests in numerous start up businesses by young Muslims.[14]


In 2003, Sufyan set up 1st Ethical Charitable Trust with a view to alleviating poverty and supporting empowerment of underprivileged communities. To date, the Trust and himself personally have donated over £5million to humanitarian causes. Beneficiaries countries include Zambia, Malawi, Philippines and India.

Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND)[edit]

In 2014 Sufyan founded MEND (Muslim Engagement and Development), a specialist initiative geared towards tackling Islamophobia by advocacy work with the media and Westminster.[15] MEND's work involved improving the media and political literacy of grass roots British Muslims. In 2016, Ismail stepped down from CEO of MEND.

In 2014, MEND's work was recognised by the world economic forum.[16] MEND is a partner with the electoral commission and a representative body for British Muslims with IPSO.

Islamic finance Publications[edit]

Sufyan has authored several papers on elements of Islamic Finance ranging from the prohibition of interest in Islamic Law,[13] Islamic inheritance laws and UK wills,[17] Zakat[18] and Insurance in Islam.[19] In 2008, Sufyan part-authored a University Textbook on Islamic finance which was published.[20]


Over the years, Sufyan and his firms have won numerous awards including following awards;

  • NW Entrepreneur of the Year (awarded by Shell livewire)[21]
  • UK's fastest growing company[5]
  • Special Recognition award (by North West Society of Chartered Accountants)[22]
  • Lloyds TSB Professional Excellence Award[23]
  • Finalist in Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year[24]
  • 57th place in Sunday Times Fast Track Top 100 2011[12]
  • 53rd Place in Sunday Times Profit Track Top 100 2012[12]
  • 2015 – 500 Most influential Muslims in the World[25]

Private life[edit]

Sufyan lives in Greater Manchester and is married with 3 children.[6]


  1. ^ "2003 – Sufyan Ismail (1st Ethical)". Shell livewire. Shell Livewire. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  2. ^ a b c "2012 The Sunday Times Profit Track 100". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  3. ^ a b Hoar, Rebecca (1 October 2003). "COMING UP FAST: Young Meteors – Sufyan Ismail, 1st Ethical". Management Today. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  4. ^ a b "OneE". Sufyan Ismail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  5. ^ a b Iziren, Adeline (18 October 2003). "What happened next?". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  6. ^ a b Ismail, Sufyan. "Biography". Sufyan Ismail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  7. ^ Stern, Stefan (8 November 2004). "In search of stars before they are famous". Financial Times. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  8. ^ "1st Ethical". 1st Ethical. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  9. ^ "OneE Group Limited". Endole. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  10. ^ "Sufyan Gulam Ismail". Company Check. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  11. ^ "Corporation Tax: Research and Development (R&D) Relief". Government of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  12. ^ a b c "The Sunday Times Profit Track 100 league table 2012". Fast Track. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  13. ^ a b Ismail, Sufyan. "Why Islam has prohibited Interest & Islamic Alternatives for Financing" (PDF). Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  14. ^ "Private Equity". Sufyan Ismail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  15. ^ "MEND – Muslim Engagement and Development". MEND. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  16. ^ "Why Care about Faith?" (PDF). Word Economic Forum: 7. 2014. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  17. ^ Ismail, Sufyan. "Preparing an Islamic Inheritance Strategy in light of the Inheritance Taxation laws of England and Wales" (PDF). 1st Ethical. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  18. ^ "Your guid to understanding & calculating Zakat" (PDF). National Zakat Foundation. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  19. ^ Ismail, Sufyan. "Insurance Revisited = The Shariah View" (PDF). 1st Ethical. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  20. ^ T. El Diwany (contributing editor) (Author), T. Ahmad (Author), A. Fazel (Author), H. Al-Haddad (Author), S. Hasan (Author), S Ismail (Author), M. Kholwadia (Author), N. Siddiqi (Author), S. Zainuddin (Author), Tarek El-Diwany (Editor) (31 March 2010). Islamic Banking and Finance: What It Is and What It Could B (1 ed.). 1st Ethical Charitable Trust. ISBN 0956518605. Retrieved 23 July 2015.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "2003 – Sufyan Ismail (1st Ethical)". Shell livewire. Shell Livewire. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  22. ^ "Awards". Sufyan Ismail. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  23. ^ "Asian Jewel Awards 2005". Red Hot Curry. Archived from the original on 22 August 2012. Retrieved 22 July 2015.
  24. ^ Brown, N (27 April 2011). "Finalists announced for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 23 July 2015.
  25. ^ The Muslim 500. Jordan. 2015. p. 151. ISBN 978-9975-4283-7-8.