The next ‘Spotlight Interview’ is on Nathaniel Peat. Nathaniel has achieved much at a young age. He is a positive, black role model who has dedicated a large proportion of his life trying to reach out to and help young people better themselves.
I knew about a number of Nathaniel’s many achievements but I wanted to know more about his background and him as a person. I wanted to know what propelled him into his current ventures and successes. So, I began by asking him about his background and his experiences growing up.
The Early Years
Nathaniel, who is a Jamaican national is one of three brothers. He explained to me that he grew up in the “aftermath of the Tottenham riots” and remembered hearing about high profile cases, in particular Joy Gardner’s death.
He progressed well during primary school, but his progression slowed until eventually he started underachieving during secondary school. He became “bored after year eight” and described feeling as though the teachers at his school were not engaging or supportive enough to him or his peers. This lack of engagement in school led him to “get involved with the wrong people”. He described a culture of gang crime and violence that surrounded and immersed him.
There were some subjects he did excel in despite his circumstances and this was due to a few “strong black men” in his life. He mentioned his father who was very supportive and helped him immensely with his studies. He also described his English teacher, Mr. Decent Henry who helped him (and his peers) to reach his potential in English. Mr. Henry’s dedication and level of support included him watching some of his students’ football matches as well as providing extra classes in Maths and Science for the students that were disengaged with the curriculum.
The Turn Around
A culmination of events, (which included Nathaniel losing a friend) led him to apply to college in order to better himself through education. He left school with only four A-C GCSEs and was rejected from his desired college three times before what he called a “miracle” led him to finally be accepted. He went on to study a BEng (Hons) in Mechanical Engineering and a MSc in Advanced Manufacturing Systems Engineering at Brunel University. He always wanted to become a pilot so he raised the funds to study in America, (he returned to the UK in order to “convert his US licences” shortly after).
His early entrepreneurial skills were demonstrated by teaching subjects he had studied from a young age- music and martial arts- in order to afford the aviation course.
The various events throughout his childhood and early adulthood led him to start ‘The Safety Box’. This non-profit organisation provides an “alternative and stem curriculum” for students, which focuses on a number of important issues such as gang and knife crime. Students are empowered and encouraged to do well. His hard work led to him winning the Daily Mail Enterprising Young Brits competition. His passion shone through when he informed me about a “re-launch” in the near future.
He continued on to tell me about more of his entrepreneurial talents. During 2008 he was one of twelve contestants to star in the BBC’s reality business programme “The Last Millionaire”. The aim was to start a business using very little money and “not to be the last person as they would be the loser”. The group visited a number of countries and when they stopped in Egypt Nathaniel performed exceptionally; he devised “VIP tours of the ancient pyramids and private Tutankhamun lectures”. This generated approximately E£3,000 (Egyptian pounds) from just E£30 seed capital in four days.
Social Enterprise – Gennex
Nathaniel Peat- image courtesy of the Jamaican Observer
“The greatest significance isn’t found with how big your house is, or how expensive your car is, the greatest significance in this life is found through service.”
Nathaniel’s most recent enterprise is GeNNex. I was curious about what ‘Gennex’ meant and so he started by telling me that “Gen – represents the beginning, deriving from genesis whilst –ex means exodus.” In essence this represents an escape. The developing world does not have a plethora of resources and opportunities for those that reside there and so ‘Gennex’ reflects the start of a movement.
Gennex aims to overcome some of the major challenges in various developing countries by using renewable energy sources and is currently registered in the UK, Jamaica, Kenya and Zambia.
There are two aspects to the business:
- Gennex Elite- the production of solar powered resources such as phone chargers, lanterns and off grid home power systems.
- Gennex Blueprint- providing training in building the above resources as well as in other areas for instance entrepreneurial skills.
Nathaniel has been well supported by Richard Branson and won the opportunity to visit Richard Branson’s private Necker Island in the Caribbean where he had the chance to discuss his business further.
Nathaniel Peat alongside Richard Branson on Necker Island (image courtesy of Virgin supported by Virgin Unite and Sir Richard Branson)
Nathaniel stated that he wanted to “make a difference; and disrupt socially for good” and I have no doubt that he will do that through his most recent endeavour.
Nathaniel is such an inspiring person; he genuinely wants to (and does) positively contribute to the world. He tells a story of a young boy who was surrounded by a very dangerous, disruptive and prejudiced environment. He was disenchanted with secondary school and left with only four GCSEs. Despite the unfortunate events and circumstances, he was surrounded by a few role models who helped guide him and along with his inner determination and resilience he achieved his goals.
He continues to raise the bar and break boundaries, setting a brilliant example and a very high standard for the younger generation. He is an amazing role model and shows us all that we should make a valuable contribution to the world as he has and is continuing to do. Despite all of his achievements and awards he is humble and enjoys helping others.
I’m sure Nathaniel has many more exciting and innovative endeavours lined up and I, (as I’m sure many others) will be looking forward to seeing them materialise!
Source of featured image.