Ex-drug users in battle for business title

This week will see the grand final of business awards for budding entrepreneurs from marginalised backgrounds, with four businesses competing in a live showdown in front of judges to become ‘TSBC Start-up Business of the Year 2012’. 

Finalists have been selected from the hundreds of young people and adults from offending, gang and substance misuse backgrounds, who have taken part in programmes run by The Small Business Consultancy (TSBC). The award-winning E=MC2 (Enterprise, Money, Creativity Squared) programme has helped participants to triumph over adversity by creating their own jobs and progressing to setting up small businesses.

Amar Lodhia, TSBC chief executive and DDN ‘Enterprise Corner’ columnist, said candidates were ‘living proof that business can be a tool for positive social change’. A former young offender who has overcome drug addiction and homelessness to become a serial entrepreneur, he said: ‘I can see a positive legacy from my journey helping these amazingly entrepreneurial participants, who have triumphed over much adversity to transform their way of life. They have shown that they can use their previously negative entrepreneurial abilities to actually employ themselves in their own businesses and move away from a life of drugs, alcohol and crime to a positive future.’

The four shortlisted business are: Baseline, a mobile hairdressing business, founded by 21-year-old Chris Adams; Mix and Blend, an alternative Caribbean catering business, founded by 45-year-old Christine Dore; Servants-r-us, a cleaning and catering business, founded by 41-year-old David Howell; and Walkies with Fi-Fi and Friends, a dog-walking and pet-sitting service, founded by 45-year-old Kirsten Imrie. All were referred onto TSBC programmes by their local DAATs. 

The final will take place on Wednesday 14 November, the UK’s first ‘National Start-up Day’ and during Global Entrepreneurship Week, and be hosted by Fujitsu UK. Speakers will include multi-award winning businessman Will King, founder of King of Shaves, and award-winning entrepreneur Dan McGuire. 

The winners will be profiled in a future issue of DDN