Public housing expert Chan Abraham wins 2008 Alumni Success in Business Award

Published: 3 December 2008 at 11:04

Anglia Ruskin University has presented its annual Alumni Success in Business Award to a man who has created a company that works for the benefit of local people who need to access affordable housing.

Anglia Ruskin University has presented its annual Alumni Success in Business Award to a man who has created a company that works for the benefit of local people who need to access affordable housing.

The winner of the 2008 Alumni Success in Business Award, sponsored by Fitzwilliam Construction Ltd, has been announced as Chan Abraham, who graduated from Anglia Ruskin University in 2001 with an MSc in Leadership in Management, and is now Group Chief Executive of the Cambridgeshire-based Luminus Group.

The idea for the business came to him when he was at a local government conference in 1997 where he learned that much needed investment in public housing services was unlikely to be forthcoming. 

In 1998 Chan initiated his vision for change – one that would generate extensive community engagement, the creation of new hope for deteriorating public housing services, and generate substantial financial resources for the benefit of local people. 

The result was the creation of a company called Huntingdonshire Housing Partnership (HHP) and a wide-ranging consultation exercise to explain to 10,000 tenants the possibilities if HHP acquired their homes.  Simultaneously, he persuaded the government that housing stock acquisition was in the best interests of the whole community. 

The idea was for Chan Abraham to raise substantial new money through private finance specifically for Huntingdonshire District Council to invest in improving the quality of life for local people: in community areas such as safety, health, development, leisure, education and in supporting HHP to build new homes.  His vision was that the focused investment of such resources, supplementing the work of mainstream agencies, could make a huge impact for the long-term benefit of the local community.

In 1999 the tenants voted overwhelmingly to support the acquisition of their homes by HHP and in March 2000 Chan, as its first Chief Executive, authorised payment of £65m to Huntingdonshire District Council and the work got under way to make that future hope a present reality. However, this was only the beginning and although the core aim was to focus on the needs of existing tenants, the rapidly changing environment meant that means would have to be found to build new homes for rent. 

Since that time Chan has received awards too numerous to mention from organisations as diverse as RoSPA, the BBC, National Business Awards, Housing Excellence Awards and Luminus has been recognised this year at 16th place in the Sunday Times 100 Best Companies to Work For.

The Luminus Group is now widely regarded as one of the most socially responsible businesses within the east of England. 

Speaking at the presentation, Vice Chancellor Professor Michael Thorne said:

“Chan Abraham’s success in business, combined with a strong social awareness, is inspirational and the reason why he is a worthy winner of the 2008 Alumni Success in Business Award.”

“We applaud his excellent work.”