Bristol

Entrepreneur? It's just a fancy word for hustler

Liam Sherrell and Collins Suleaudu dsc18
Image caption Liam Sherrell and Collins Suleaudu are about to set up their own media management business

Liam Sherrell and Collins Suleaudu learned their skills on the street - and both ended up involved in crime. But now they've signed up to learn the legal hustle, along with others who want to turn an aptitude for robbery and dealing drugs into legitimate business opportunities.

Street 2 Boardroom was set up by Clayton Planter, a social entrepreneur from Bristol. He says he can help young people with a chequered past use the knowledge and confidence gained on the street "to do what's done in the corporate world".

"Entrepreneur is just a fancy word for hustler," he says.

For example, dealing drugs involves planning, knowing your market, determination and teamwork. A street crew could be equated to a workplace team.

Mr Planter says anyone is welcome on his eight-week course: "I don't care what colour you are, where you come from - it's about diversity - if you really want to change your life. It's not where you are from, it's where you are going to that's important."

The programme involves weekly workshops - including "learning business jargon" and "networking" - and has funding from Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner. The Prince's Trust has given them a room to use for free.

Mr Planter is already developing a new module - on how to be a boxing promoter.

"Everybody wants to be a boxer or a musician and if you're interested in that industry then look at the industry broadly. You could be a coach, a promoter, a physiotherapist. If it's music then there's marketing, promotion or music management.

"My main thing is turning a passion into a career.

"Don't chase the money, chase the dream and the money will come after."

Image caption The programme involves a series of eight weekly workshops and has funding from Avon and Somerset Police

Mr Planter, 34, grew up in Bristol and has no criminal background. He's worked in banking and local government but says he got fed up when he was "unable to develop in the workplace to senior management level," which he believes was down to "ignorance, institutionalised racism and fear". So he set up his own business.

He says his message to employers is to "stop employing yourselves, people who look like you, people in your own image".

Mr Sherrell, 22, says he's hoping to set up as a music manager for his rapper brother, and other artists "who are willing to put in the effort".

"There's a need for music managers in Bristol," he said.

"Most rappers are from the street and that's what they rap about. Most don't have the knowledge of networking and management.

"Street 2 Boardroom taught me about jargon language, digital marketing and gave me connections for what I need to do. Life is what you make it - the higher the risk the higher the reward."

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Media captionHow the language of the street and the boardroom are not so different

Mr Suleaudu, 26, says Street 2 Boardroom has inspired him as well as giving him business skills such as building his own website and making grant applications - something Ruth Kapadia from the Arts Council says is important.

"A lot of people don't realise they're entitled to apply for funding," she said.

"Our investment in the arts should represent as wide a cross-section of society as possible."

Avon and Somerset Police and Crime Commissioner Sue Mountstevens is also on board with the project, describing it as "an innovative way to address an issue affecting young people," which she says she hopes will help the force's campaign to attract more black and minority ethnic recruits.

A former head boy and school sports captain, Mr Planter also worked until recently as a presenter on Bristol community radio station Ujima.

He says he went to "quite a white school in Bristol" but also lived in the black community so he is "able to understand both cultures".

"I realised if you give the young people and adults in the black community the skills and confidence and knowledge they can also achieve greatness."

Image caption Clayton Planter said there's "no red tape with this course - it's real"

The Prince's Trust gave the project a head start when it referred three young people to Mr Planter's scheme.

Kathryn Strachecky from the trust said: "It was a true inspiration to see Clayton's dedication and unwavering belief around young people's abilities to take control of their own lives and pursue their dreams."

The next series of workshops starts in September and Mr Planter's five-year goal is for Street 2 Boardroom to be rolled out nationally.

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