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The black men who are doing the business

MEDIA MOGUL: Jamal Edwards has created a successful media company at the age of 20

WITH ALL the recent discussion about the recession, spending cuts and rising unemployment figures, you’re unlikely to hear about black owned businesses being a growth area.
But you should do.
Despite being invisible to wider society, a generation of black British men, faced with limited opportunities in the corporate and professional worlds are striking out and creating successful enterprises.
The talented entrepreneurs featured here had an idea and through hard work, persistence and belief they built a business.
And their success is helping to challenge the often negative images of young black men we so often see in media reports.

JAMAL EDWARDS


MEDIA MOGUL: Jamal Edwards has created a successful media company at the age of 20

JAMAL EDWARDS, Managing Director and founder of SB.TV is a young, energetic go getting entrepreneur who is definitely making waves in the entertainment industry.

The 20 year old self-made businessman runs SB.TV, an online production company which makes web based viral content such as 'street shot' freestyle raps, interviews and music videos and broadcasts them on its successful You Tube channel.

“I wanted to give the youth a voice, because back in the day all the people that are in the charts today like, Tinie, Tinchy and Chipmunk weren’t getting the mainstream love that I thought they should be receiving, so I tried to make a platform and broadcast it myself” he recalls.

Everyone on his team is under the age of 25. “I know them through someone, or they’ve emailed me and said let’s work together and I’ve bought them in.”

The seeds of his burgeoning business empire began when he started filming foxes in his backyard with a camera bought for him as a Christmas present. His experiments with the camera nurtured his passion for filming and soon he was shooting underground rappers and MCs from the grime scene in his local area. “I was making videos of any random stuff, putting them on YouTube and getting thousands of hits, so I thought let me apply it to something else and started filming rappers and stuff and from there it kinda snowballed.”

In the space of two years, Jamal has signed to Sony and is now CEO of his own record label. More recognition came after he won the Virgin Media Pioneers Competition and met with business mogul Sir Richard Branson.

And the young entrepreneur can now add the likes of Timberland and Nicky Minaj to his celebrity acquaintances.
Jamal has achieved his success despite humble beginnings and the fact that his early life had many of the same difficulties faced by other young black men of his age. 

When asked what advice he would give to those wishing to follow in his footsteps or start their own business he said “I would say number one, be original, because there is so much out here these days that you really need to stand out. Be innovative. And another thing I would say is chase the dream not the competition.”
 
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SEBASTIAN THIEL


POSITIVE VIBES: It’s Upshot creator Sebastian Thiel wants to empower young people to overcome obstacles

20 YEAR old Sebastian Thiel is Managing Director of It’s Upshot, a pioneering youth entertainment brand which has become a shining example of what hard work, dedication and creativity can produce.

The It’s Upshot brand was created with its motto of “Educate, Empower and Inspire” in mind.

Although the company’s name is a reference to Sebastian’s former career as a promising basketball player, It’s Upshot is also a reference to the importance of aiming high and standing tall despite hurdles and obstacles placed in front of you.

The team produces a range of distinctive t-shirts that use different concepts to generate humor, surprise and provoke thought.

The It’s Upshot Dream series of t shirts is a best seller and has been donned by the likes of Bashy, Chipmunk, Sway, Dynamo and Flawless.

Sebastian also runs Upshot TV, an online entertainment website that broadcasts comedy sketches, dance and music videos, filmed poetry performances, documentaries and short films. “We will show anything that elevates people. We wouldn’t show or design anything that has a destructive message. For example our ‘Drop me your digits’ t-shirts which are part of our ‘joker’ series. It’s funny without being destructive. It’s not like we’re asking a girl to drop her knickers.”

His advice to budding entrepreneurs who want to create their own business success story is to “work hard. And if you want it enough then you will attract all the necessary things needed to make your dream happen. The key thing is to do it and not stop.”
 
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ALLAN OKOH


FOCUS: Entrepreneur Allan Okoh believes that discipline determination and action are the keys to success

24 YEAR OLD Allan Okoh set up Newtrepreneur Coaching two years ago.

It is a personal development consultancy that specialises in coaching new entrepreneurs.

“What inspired me to become an entrepreneur coach was the desire to help people start up their own business” Allan, who is also a published author, recalls “I know a lot of people that want to start their own business but have no idea how to go about it. I wanted to create something for them to assist in helping them achieve their goals.”  

His techniques help clients discover the way that they behave and think in order to maximize their performance. “I believe that three of the key principals from the 10 mentioned in my book are important to a successful business - discipline determination, and action.”

His advice to young people who have what they believe is a great idea for a business but are unsure about the first steps to take is, take time laying solid foundations.

“Once you’ve got an idea one of the first things you need to do is research” he said “Get as much information as possible about the field and market, so once you go out there to start your business the more chance you have of succeeding.”

However, he added “Research is important but you definitely need passion! Whatever you decide to do make sure you have a keen interest in it.”

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ANTHONY LAZARUS


SAFE HANDS: Anthony Lazarus wants to change the face of the security industry

52 YEAR old Anthony Lazarus is the founder and managing director of Meerkats Security, a fresh and dynamic security company that prides itself on providing ‘intelligent security’ to businesses and venues.

After working in the security industry for over 20 years, Anthony decided to create his own venture.

“When working in particular venues I wasn’t happy with the way in which members of the security team were relating to the public” he recalled.

Meerkats Security now provides close protection security training and firearms and combat training to aspiring security guards.

“We want to provide security men (and women) who are intelligent in their approach, smart, think on their feet and can relate to customers and provide a comfortable environment for people to enjoy.”

 When asked about the key to a business success, Anthony said “Be clear about the services you are providing, be trustworthy and provide the type of service that clients will appreciate.”

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