Brick Lane charity founder recognised as a “global leader”

The leader of a groundbreaking Tower Hamlets financial charity has won an award which will allow her to have a say on global affairs in China in September.

Lily Lapenna, 31, who created MyBnk in Brick Lane in 2007, is one of only five people in the UK to be honoured as a “young global leader “ by the World Economic Forum.

As a result, she will travel to Dalian in China to meet up with the 197 other “leaders” from 72 countries representing the worlds of business, politics and the arts.

MyBnk works with young people in the borough and across London to teach financial skills including setting up banks that bypass the High Street where they can save.

She said: “This is an incredible honour, I am in total disbelief.

“Encouraging enterprise and having a financially literate society has never been so important.”

The WEF said the award was for her “professional accomplishments” and her “commitment to society”.

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MyBnk is the first charity in the UK to allow young people to run their own Financial Services Authority approved banks, offering �40 interest-free loans to their peers to run social enterprises.

Swanlea School in Whitechapel signed up to the scheme in 2008, with its sixth-formers now running a bank that the whole school can use.

It is funded by Brac, a Bangladeshi charity where Ms Lapenna previously worked.

Her time there inspired her to set up MyBnk, which also runs workshops teaching pupils how to look after their money in the borough’s schools.

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