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Ctrl Meets Nathaniel Peat – Social Entrepreneur Part 2

After grilling Nathaniel Peat about the G20 Toronto conference last week, I turned the focus onto other aspects that the inspiring young social entrepreneur has an interest in. On the agenda today – the Safety Box, climate change, corruption, and leadership…

How has the Safety Box helped young people?

There are so many examples of young people back in the Safety Box scheme in England that have been reformed. A prime example is a young boy who went to a school in Wood Green – St Thomas Moore Secondary School. He used to sell sweets in the lunch break. He would go to the cash and carry and buy a bulk load of £20 worth of sweets, penny sweets, which he would sell during the break. The problem then is that teachers are saying ‘you should not be doing this, you are not allowed to earn money’. He gets into trouble and can’t understand the reason he can’t do it.

The teachers basically think he is being disobedient and he is taken out of normal class and placed into the referral unit. He is [labeled] as a disobedient child, but we are not recognizing his ability as an entrepreneur. WE are not using his skill set and creativity, his entrepreneurial nature, or focusing it and channeling it in the right direction.

So what we did in the Safety Box is we took this guy out of that and we enabled him to start a tuck shop in the school. It is about focusing his mind in the right direction.

It is cheaper for us to invest in young people than it is for young people to be incarcerated. So in the long term [we’re] investing in human capital.

Do you believe that the recession inspires people to become more entrepreneurial?

I don’t think it inspires people to become more entrepreneurial, however I believe it forces people to become more entrepreneurial, as they have to think about ways they can become more successful.

‘Oh I’ve got to make more money’, that pressure, so it forces them to do it. What is inspirational is when other people achieve stuff. They are inspired by other people that have made it. The recession is a great time for people to become more entrepreneurial.

If you look at some of the best businesses that formed out of the 1979 recession, like IBM and Microsoft, these are multimillion pound businesses. Billionaires have come out of recessions. Now, what is starting to be realized is that entrepreneurship is the backbone for the modern economy.

How has being highly educated helped in your entrepreneurial journey?

Education has been the key to my success. It turns my ‘project’ (because I’m black it automatically becomes a project), it makes my ‘project’ look like a business.

What I run is a business, a social enterprise, and so what it does it that is gives me more credibility as an individual. It also helps me to articulate my speech better; it makes me become a better orator. It gives me a wider vocabulary of words to use. I can sit among people that are equally educated and sound as though I know what I’m talking about.

Information. Those people that are well informed are able to deliver effectively. I remember having an interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 news and he is a very articulate and quite a hard, tough journalist. Being interviewed by someone like that, education plays a big key, in order to answer the questions accurately and with as much depth as the question requires. Education is the key to success. The more informed you are, the better choices you can make.

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Do you see yourself as an icon for leadership as you have won the Enterprise Young Brit Award… twice?

I was the very first person to get it twice and also the very first person who was black. That was really amazing.

Icon?? I’m just plain old Nat, I grew up in the middle of Tottenham, North East London. I wouldn’t say that I’m an icon because icons are the type of people that are idolized a little bit and I don’t want to come across as being somebody that is idolized, by no means no. I am just like every other person.

As the result of shining your light, naturally people gravitate towards that, naturally people want to be associated with you and naturally it makes you a leader. Even though you don’t ask for it, it just happens. If you can lead yourself, then you may be able to help others to lead themselves too. It is about creating more leaders, not just students. I am just trying to awaken my creative potential and be the best person I can be for myself.

How do you think strong leaders impact in addressing global issues, such as poverty, climate change, corruption?

With great difficulty. I think that global leaders experience a great deal of difficulty from the people that finance their governments. Especially in political systems such as the United States of America; there are certain families that have a great influence in government and I believe that all power corrupts at the highest level.

It will take a very dynamic leader to actually try to create a change. If you look at dynamic leaders that have existed, such as Martin Luther King, Malcolm X and John F Kennedy, these people were simply removed. I believe that it is very difficult to do it in a political system, however it is easier to do it outside of a political system.

They need to put themselves in the position of a key influencer, so that governments come to them for advice. Then they are able to influence changes. I believe that it is these kinds of people that are really going to be the instrumental people in looking at these key global issues and being able to advise with an unbiased perspective.

What do you think can be done about tackling corruption? In your experience have you actually personally experienced any corruption issues in the work you do?

Well that’s a big question! The way to combat it, especially in Africa, is to not do dealings with the government and not accept bribery. If a place is corrupt, in order to excel and to do better, a lot of people will use bribery to start their businesses. They will pay the government to make sure their business gets in place.

What needs to happen is that entrepreneurs and people that want to invest in developing countries of the world need to stop accepting bribery, they need to do it in the proper way. By doing that, the people that are corrupt are not going to have anybody to ask for money. If they can’t bribe anybody they will stop asking. That is the key way to do it. I don’t believe that a political system can come in and change it.

After thanking Nathaniel, I heard the familiar ping that ends a Skype call. This had been my longest and most intense interview yet. Nathaniel is a young man with many opinions and as a successful entrepreneur he has shown that, with the right drive and determination, anything is possible.

Ctrl Meets Nathaniel Peat- Social Entrepreneur P1

With talk surrounding the ‘Big Society’ and having an increase in social insight, being a social entrepreneur is something that should be looked into. This was my first trans-Atlantic interview and due to the bliss of technology – it was held over Skype….

Nathaniel Peat is a great example of an entrepreneur of the next generation. He was amongst just three young British entrepreneurs who were selected to represent Britain at the G20 Young Entrepreneur Summit in Toronto, Canada, in late June 2010 (as a UK delegate with Enterprise UK and the Institute of Directors). His CV is packed and it is hard to believe that he is only 29. He created the award-winning ‘Safety Box’ which was launched in 2007 to proactively address the growing concern of knife crime, gun crime and anti-social behaviour. In 2009 he appeared on the BBC’s ‘The Last Millionaire’ and is now set to share his experience on a global stage.

Somewhere along his busy schedule I caught up with the Tottenham-raised innovative pilot; to discuss the conference, his work and inspirations, experiences with poverty, and how to reach entrepreneur greatness…

Firstly Nathaniel, how was the summit?
The summit was an amazing experience for me as an individual to go to; so that I could actually earmark my voice on global issues that really are dear to my heart. I have travelled to places like India and parts of Africa and I have seen poverty on another level. In the Caribbean I have seen people that have struggled to get up, and as a result of that – getting into a life of crime. Growing up in inner-city London as a young person, I saw so many negative things in my life and kids with no aspiration, because people did not want to invest in them, give them the opportunity or believe in them. So for me, going to the summit was an amazing honour to say the least (especially to know that the Enterprise UK had nominated me to represent). I was selected to represent the whole of the UK and with that, the black community too; not only here in the UK, but the black community globally – as I was one of the only black delegates of the
G20 countries. The summit was a fantastic experience for growth, and also for the development of oneself, a promotion of service and serving other people… The greatest significance in life is found through service, it is not found through the attainment of wealth.

The aim of the summit was to assemble delegations from the G20 nations to identify and examine the issues impeding young entrepreneurs around the world. The discussions then resulted in the development of a communiqué identifying shared key policy issues and approaches. This information was then presented to the G20 Leaders to help them to maximize the economic potential of young entrepreneurs in their respective economies. What was the result of the summit and the outcomes of the key policy areas that were focused on?
There were five topics that we were given by the G20 leaders to give recommendations upon:
1) Access to funding
2) Co coordinated support
3) Entrepreneurship culture
4) Regulation and Taxation
5) Education and Taxation.

For me, my purpose for actually going there was to focus on three particular areas. My position was to create a voice for people that do not have the voice necessarily…
• Speaking of countries such as those in Africa, South America, and India, that don’t have enough of a voice on the global stage.
• To create and to talk about investing in the countries in a different way.
• To gain investment through angel investors and entrepreneurs – not through government. (as some governments are running out of money…)

The governments of the world, from IMF to the UN, have not got the money to deal with it. However, there are lots of entrepreneurs globally (angel investors) that can invest to develop an enterprising culture within developing countries. I am talking about investing in the people of the country, as opposed to giving them money which is like charity… It is not about handing them money, it is not about giving them fish, it is about teaching them how to fish. It’s about giving them access to training so that the youth in these countries can develop with an entrepreneurship culture whereby they can lift themselves out of poverty. A lot of these countries do not necessarily want charity. They need assistance, they need resources and they need development. So my voice (at the summit) was the creative voice for them; which was to say, let us focus on education and training – an education system has an essential role in enabling young entrepreneurs to acquire the knowledge and skills that are required to succeed in business and in life. As a result of that, they can lift themselves out of poverty.

Now is a time more than ever to connect NGOs, corporate companies, entrepreneurs, local governments, international governments and banks all together. We can shape global stability for countries to get out of poverty, and not having corporations just milking people, but having them invest into people. Many entrepreneurs agreed with what I said in the summit, and as a result of that I was put into the communiqué document. I can say now that I have had an impact on a global level.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWA-E0zRtmE&feature=player_embedded]

What are your thoughts on debt culture, and how can the next generation avoid falling into a spiral of debt?
Debt holds people back as it is a limitation on your break into success. In my opinion, rich people are very different from wealthy people. ‘Rich’ people get lots of money and they spend lots of money, they borrow lots of money – and they CAN work really hard. But ‘wealthy’ people invest in people……….

Read the rest of the interview here on Ctrl Alt Shift