Monday Nights

NET meet on the last monday of every month.  Here you will find details of previous speakers through 2007, 2008 and earlier this year… 
Monday 28th April 2009…

Last month we heard from two successful serial entrepreneurs who use their businesses as a platform for supporting others; this month we have invited a group that work with the other end of the spectrum.  We have invited speakers that work with some of the poorest and most marginalised in our society to empower and equip them to launch sustainable social enterprises.

 Ready to Grow 

Brenda Poggio & Others; Ready to Grow

Ready to grow is a free capacity building and business support programme for Social Enterprises led by Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic and Refugee (BAMER) communities in London.

Ready to grow offers in-depth, high quality and professional business support to help aspiring and existing social enterprises become demonstrably sustainable.

Ready to grow is a unique programme focusing on your needs as social enterprise;  they help you achieve your objectives through tailored support as and when you need it over a three year period.

They also provide one-to-one business support, specialist consultancy, training workshops, and any capacity building that your social enterprise may need.

The programme is delivered in partnership by Olmec and Red Ochre and funded by Capacitybuilders.

Monday 30th March 2009…

We will heard from two successful serial entrepreneurs who use their businesses as a platform for supporting others.  Both of our speakers have very rich examples of how they have used profitable businesses to support charities, social enterprises, projects and individuals.


Steve Mills of A1 Project Management Services. Steve is a self made businessman and Director of A1 Project Management Services; a collective business group which includes one of the UK’s leading loft conversion companies as well as a number of other businesses.

A1 Project Management Services has been working in the London area for the last eight years as A1 Lofts. They have enjoyed an excellent record in the building management of loft extensions and have won the coveted FMB Master Builder Award twice, in 2005 and 2008.

Many of Steve’s other businesses have a strong environmental agenda. Examples include:

  • 50°North, who’s primary aim is to build green buildings using the most environmentally conscious materials and practices to reduce carbon emissions and positively effect climate change.
  • SEDS sell a software package called ecoDriver that is recently a Microsoft Ingenuity Point Award Winner. The software allows users to monitor their gas, electricity and water usage every half hour. The main purpose is to help identify energy consumption, respond if the rating is poor and reduce carbon emissions.
  • ZedUp provides the solution to buildings that have a poor energy rating. ZedUp source the best technologies in insulation, glazing, lighting, PVT panels, water harvesters and wind harnessing.
  • Kite Tech involves the most technologically advanced research and development to generate clean energy using kites.

Other businesses include Aspire Extensions and Interiors by Aspire.

Steve runs a charity called NEST which works towards alleviating the plight of children in the third world. He is also involved with other charities including Regenerate South West London and a Martial Arts School in Northumberland Park, North London who focus on helping young people who come from difficult backgrounds.






Paul Williams of MLS Group Plc


Paul is a serial entrepreneur that launched his first business at the age of 25 and has built up and sold successful companies in the publishing and advertising sectors. Paul launched MLS just over ten years ago when he began renting out unused office space at his advertising firm; ten years on the company had grown to almost 80 serviced office centres and several related support companies. MLS was named as a Sunday Times Virgin Fast Track 100 company in 2005 and 2006.  Paul and his team are in the final stages of a radical restructure of the business which has seen the number of centres reduce to allow MLS to remain robust in the current economic climate.


Other businesses include:

§         Liquid IT – A comprehensive IT company providing installation and support services for IT systems. Liquid support the SME community of MLS as well other significant office operators.

§         EAC – a buildings support company that provides electrical and mechanical services.

§         HMS President – a large conference centre with serviced offices on the historic ship moored by Blackfriars Bridge on the Thames.


In 2006 Paul launched a charity called Ethos. Ethos is an entrepreneurial charity that seeks to take the DNA of the companies and use the assets, connections, recourses and relationships of the group to deliver social and environmental change. Paul is also involved in other charities and has been able to use the businesses to significantly support these and others.

Monday 23rd Feb…

Eddie Stride, CEO of City Gateway

Eddie Stride is the CEO of Tower Hamlets based charity City Gateway, an organisation he has passionately led for 5 years and grown from just 2 part-time staff to a team of over 30. Together they are working to bring hope to the local community by engaging, mentoring & training disadvantaged young people and women.

Having been born in Whitechapel, Eddie has lived in Tower Hamlets his entire life and inherited a passion from his parents, who are also heavily involved in community regeneration having grown up in Spitalfields.  He has a passion to see inequality reduced both in the UK and across the world, and has a particular interest in exploring new ways in which we can do things differently to help achieve this goal. His work in Tower Hamlets not only successfully pushed a CSR agenda before the topic was mainstream but has also led to the establishment of a number of social enterprises, giving local people real chances of employment and development.

He is also involved on a number of local community and strategy boards helping to improve the quality of living for residents in Tower Hamlets, spanning youth crime prevention, housing, employment, education and community cohesion.

Eddie studied Geography at Cambridge.  He has now been married 3 years and loves traveling, writing & recording music, playing football and being involved in his church, where he plays a central leadership role.






Andy Smith, Co-founder of Regenerate


Andy is co-founder and director of Regenerate; a community charity in Rohampton.  Based on the Alton estate, Regenerate run a variety of programs for children, young people and their families.  Regenerate is also partnering with other London estate community groups to initiate similar projects. Regenerate arrange trips to Africa for young people from London, supporting projects working with street children.


Regenerate have been operating for over 9 years and are now working with hundreds of people on estates across SW London.  They are also mentoring a number of young people that have been involved in gang and crime lifestyles and now want to do something positive with their lives.

Monday 26th January 2009…
Chris Allwood, founder of Auction my Stuff. Chris is a passionate and effective social entrepreneur, who loves to innovate and grow social enterprises; his success has recently been recognized by his appointment as a social enterprise Ambassador. He currently oversees Auction My Stuff, is starting a social enterprise incubator in partnership with ‘the hub’ ( , works on ensuring the sustainability of new national cross sector movement ‘Chain Reaction’ ( and is investigating other start-ups.

His enthusiasm for businesses with a social mission was ignited at University where he ran a Fairtrade shop, and started a Fairtrade café.  On graduation he moved to London to start another Fairtrade café on Islington’s highly competitive Upper Street.   Since then he has run a centre for asylum seekers, and a programme in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs ( , for people keen to start their own social enterprises. 

In 2005 he joined Community Links as New Business Development Manager.  Auction My Stuff ( is the first venture and started around two years ago.  He has successfully tapped into huge pro-bono resources to enable it to happen, including Accenture, Tesco, Deloitte and Clifford Chance.  Auction My Stuff enables unemployed young people to get the skills, experience and confidence for work.  They sell donated ‘stuff’ through their eBay shop.  Stuff may come from their own company contacts, individual, celebrity donations or via other charities with whom they have sales agent agreements.  They currently have agreements with OXFAM, Crisis and other large charities to sell donated ‘stuff’ on their behalf.  Young people come on work placements of 10 weeks and take part in coaching to enable them to set, work at, and achieve their goals.  They usually have between eight and 10 young people on placement at any one time.  Auction my Stuff received some seed funding, but are now completely cover their costs by the income generated themselves. 

Chris is also in the final stages of studding for an MBA and is overjoyed by the recent birth of his daughter Isabel.


Esther Baker, co-founder of Synergy Theatre Project. Esther Baker has worked extensively in prisons for the past 15 years and co-founded Synergy Theatre Project in 1999 soon after winning the Butler Trust Development Award for innovative and effective work with prisoners.

She is the Artistic Director of Synergy who work through theatre with offenders and ex-offenders towards rehabilitation and resettelement whilst placing the wider issues surrounding imprisonment.  

The company has various strands of work including theatre productions with prisoners and professionals, cultivating prisoners’ writing and an ex-offender led crime prevention programme for youths at risk.

She has directed thirteen of Synergy’s productions as well as working for mainstream theatres. She has trained and worked at National Theatre Studio. Her first short film The Rains of Fear was screened at BFI and LA and Krakow Film Festivals.

Her work includes: The Long Road (Soho Theatre), Elmina’s Kitchen (HMP Brixton), On the Waterfront (Wimbledon Studio Theatre), Burn and Someone to Watch Over Me (Southwark Playhouse), Accidental Death of an Anarchist (HMP Wandsworth), The Memory of Water (HMP Downview), Respect, Guilty by Association and Gunpoint (HMP Latchmere House and schools tour) Dealer’s Choice (Orange Tree), A Memory of Two Mondays (Cockpit), Write Now rehearsed readings (Royal Court), Inferno (Young Vic Studio), The Lieutenant of Inishmore (Assistant director at Garrick).

Esther is also the trustee of Angle Theatre Company who develop new plays from immigrant voices.

Monday 24th November 2008…

The last 18 months have seen a rise in the number of online social networking sites for social entrepreneurs and those engaged in ethical businesses. We will be joined by the founders of the two most significant projects.


Tommy Hutchinson, founder and CEO, i-genius, a world community of social entrepreneurs with members in over 90 countries.  

Tommy’s career spans working in the City both in corporate banking and corporate affairs and for the past several years as a social entrepreneur.  

Tommy studied economics and public policy in Leeds and started his working life with the National Union of Students. He then worked for NatWest Group for 10 years until 2000, first as an aerospace analyst and then as a European policy specialist in the market intelligence department, culminating for three years as the Group’s political adviser. In 1997 he stood for Parliament as the Labour candidate for Chingford and Woodford Green.  Leaving NatWest he became director of the Industry Forum for two years developing relations between the business community (200 blue chip corporate members) and government.


Tommy launched i-genius in 2007 and after only 18 months, had established a youthful and media savvy brand which has enabled it to build a global membership base. Its partners include UNESCO, British Council, Channel 4 and Ashoka. To date, it has successfully: 

  1. Built a world community in over 90 countries
  2. Been named best website by UNESCO
  3. Partnered with Channel 4 on a television series ‘Millionaire’s Mission’
  4. Hosted a World Summit in Thailand, attracting over 80 participants which included former president of CNN International, director of Viacom (MTV & Paramount Pictures), a favourite candidate for governor of Bangkok and BBC and Channel 4 television personalities. Please see this 4 min video:

 Tommy has co-created a youth charity ‘Kikass’, he also created Champ which promoted peace and reconciliation in N. Ireland and Eurobandits which ran the official online campaign to encourage people to vote in the European Parliament elections. Four years ago he joined social marketing agency Equator Media Limited as a director running a range of campaigns for clients including the Home Office, Channel 4, Novo Nordisk, Cancer Research and Oxford Health Alliance.

Tommy is a senior associate of ProbusBNW and a trustee of Maytree Respite Centre for the suicidal. He co-authored ‘A risky business’ to coincide with a conference he organised which looked at the nature of risk in society. He frequently speaks at conferences and seminars all over the world.


Alberto Nardelli, CEO of UnLtdWorld. is an online platform that connects social entrepreneurs and empowers the way information is exchanged within the social entrepreneurship market.

Previously, Alberto acted as Special Projects Manager at TakingITGlobal, leading the overhaul of creative programmes, which included an online art gallery, a publication and a series of initiatives implemented in a range of cities and aimed at fostering cultural understanding amongst young people. At TIG, Alberto also managed partnerships and collaborative initiatives with UN agencies and international organisations.
He also facilitated communications for the Youth Caucus of the UN World Summit on the Information Society.

In the past he worked at The Digital Youth Consortium – City of Rome, The Glocal Forum for Quincy Jones’ We Are The Future and was Chief Editor of the Italian edition of

Alberto has advised the strategies of numerous companies, start-ups and organisations. His work has appeared on several media, and he has written, and spoken at a dozen international conferences, about social media, the web and technolgy & international development, including at the World Urban Forum, the World Summit on the Information Society and the International Chamber of Congress World Congress.

He holds an MA in Media and Communication Studies and a BA in Political Science

Monday 27th October…


Daniel Brewer, Director of Resonance.  Daniel is a social entrepreneur with a passion for people engaging their wealth with their values. Having spent several years in manufacturing he founded Resonance in 2002, a financial intermediary specialising in helping ‘social enterprises’ raise risk capital from values-led investors. He co-leads the joint venture Equity Plus which runs the Cabinet Office sponsored Social Enterprise Angel Network and has been a non-exec of a number of social enterprises involved in recycling, fair trade and tackling homelessness.

He admires people that take good risks, pursue their passions with conviction and still manage to hold it all lightly.



Rachel Millward, Development Director of Five Talents.  Five Talents is a Christian microfinance charity, working to fight poverty and create jobs in Africa, Asia and Latin America by providing loans and business training to poor entrepreneurs. Five Talents was established in 1998 by the worldwide Anglican Church as a practical means of improving the lives of the ‘economically active’ poor.  Five Talents establishes partnerships with community-based initiatives, providing business training, technical support and external funding.  Their partners lend to clients regardless of ethnicity or religious beliefs and 65% are women.  The average Five Talents client has five dependents and lives on less than $2 a day.

Monday 29th September…

Matt Scott, Co-founder and Director of Cosmos Ignite,

With offices in Delhi, London and Silicon Valley, Cosmos Ignite Innovations  is the first global company to commercially address the challenges of kerosene replacement through solar and LED technology.  With 1.6 billion people currently without access to electricity relying on the dim, smoky glow of fuel based lighting such as kerosene, Cosmos Ignite’s pioneering MIGHTYLIGHT is bringing safe and affordable lighting to 100,000 people around the world with a goal of reaching over 10million users within the next 5 years. 

Matt co-founded Cosmos Ignite in 2004 with Amit Chugh, a social entrepreneur from India, on graduation from his MBA programme at Stanford Business School (US).  After 2 years working in India, he now splits his time between London and Delhi.  Previous to founding Cosmos Ignite, Matt spent time in a large science company and has experience in Management Consulting and socially responsible Venture Capital.  He also works on a part-time basis for a large Children’s Charity called ARK  and is Chairman of Global Giving UK (UK partner to, an online marketplace for charitable giving.


Mark Wakeling, Freeset.

Mark has worked for the last fourteen years to support vulnerable women. This journey has led to co-founding two charities that work with women exploited by prostitution and more recently to develop Freeset in the UK.

Freeset is a business that partners with social enterprises aimed at moving people out of exploitation and using business as an intervention to human trafficking and prostitution. Freeset specialises in fair trade promotional bags and innovative items and accessories that use recycled products.


Monday 28th July      

Colin Crooks – Chief Executive Green-Works

Colin Crooks has a successful track record as a sole trader, consultant and award winning social entrepreneur.   

He currently runs Green-Works, a leading social enterprise and registered charity dedicated to the reuse, re-manufacture and recycling of redundant office furniture.  Colin founded Green-Works with minimum resource in 2000.  It now turns over <£2m and employs more than 80 people directly and indirectly, helping to fulfill one of the companies social aims.

His first business was Papercycle, a successful commercial paper recycling business which he set up and ran for five years, employing up to fifteen people, primarily long term unemployed and ex-offenders. In 1994 he founded a consultancy called 3Re to provide waste auditing services in the business sector.Colin has also been the Chief Executive of the Renew Trust, a second tier not-for-profit organisation setting up projects that provide training and employment in white goods refurbishment.

As a local councilor, 1998 – 2002 Colin was closely involved in agreeing the waste strategy for the western Riverside Waste Authority for the period to 2020Colin now holds overall responsibility for the strategic planning, financial and operational management at Green-Works. 

He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Waste Management and has an MSc in Environmental Conservation.


Philip Luithlen & David Weafer, founders and Directors of Baglotto Limited

A science graduate, designer and now a bar/restaurant operator, Philip’s attention has focussed on using online technologies to improve business efficiency and generate business. Following several years operating a successful construction company in the midlands, David has turned his attention to this green business. David also brings a practical approach to building the business and believes that increased recycling is the key to a sustainable future.

With particular focus on innovation throughout, Philip’s partnership with David in developing aims to increase recycling awareness by inviting retailers to contribute financially, in return for a share of advertising space on this very interesting site concept. The site ultimately aims to reduce plastic bag usage and packaging waste throughout the world, by rewarding individuals who reuse and recycle. The business will also support environmental clean up campaigns and waste education throughout the UK.

Baglotto are joined by Penny Ritson of Green England.

Penny has a background in Life Coaching, Recruitment and IT.

Green England promotes green and ethical products, services and days out encouraging networking, sharing of information and joint ventures. Green England is working with Baglotto 
















Monday 30th June…  


Simon Fenton-Jones, CEO of StreetShine. Following several years setting up a successful agricultural business in Vietnam, Simon returned to the UK and helped develop and raise funds for StreetLeague, a charity that inspires disadvantaged groups through sport.  Hearing about the StreetShine concept, Simon joined in early 2004 and established all foundations for the organisation to help realise StreetShine as a social enterprise. StreetShine is a social business that gives vulnerable people the opportunity to earn a living and learn new skills through shoe shining.  Simon brings genuine passion to his role and the organisation, believing that the social enterprise model of business combines perfectly with the focus of StreetShine – helping people realise their potential and improve their personal situations.



John Bird, Founder and Editor-In-Chief, The Big Issue.  John Bird, was a poor boy, orphan, thief, inmate, artist and poet before going on to found the ground-breaking social initiative that is The Big Issue. He was born shortly after the Second World War to a London-Irish family into slum-ridden Notting Hill. Homelessness, orphanages, crime and prison characterised much of his early life until his metamorphosis into a successful small businessman occurred in the 1980s.  

Since setting up The Big Issue magazine and foundation to help the homeless help themselves some sixteen years ago, John has become an authority on motivation and the ascendancy to achievement. Amongst the places he has spoken are the UN in New York, Nairobi and Istanbul, Downing Street and Buckingham Palace. The UN Scroll of Honour, an MBE and the 2005/6 Beacon Prize for Creative Giving are just three of the many accolades and awards he has received. Since the inception of The Big Issue in 1991, John has overseen its development into the UK’s most successful social enterprise, stretching from Tokyo to Totnes and helping thousands of homeless people worldwide.

John’s latest venture is called Wedge Card, a loyalty card aimed at revitalising the local high street. The card gives shoppers discounts at hundreds of independent businesses as well as raising money for local charities. See    His autobiography “Some Luck”, is a fantastic explanation of much of John’s lack of fortune, misfortune and his ascendancy out of the vulgar life of crime to social engineering. In March 2007 he took part to the Quick Reads campaign and wrote the best selling book ‘How to change your life in 7 steps’.




Monday 19th May 2008 NET was joined by…



Anna Guthrie of Business Action for Africa.  Anna has recently been advising the UK Department for International Development on their approach to involving business in poverty reduction. She is Deputy Director of Business Action for Africa ( – a network of businesses and business organisations from Africa and around the world who are practitioners of business for development. Anna currently works with Inspiris (, a company that specializes in advising and connecting the world’s leading businesses and governments to reduce poverty in developing countries. Anna has also worked on international development issues within the UK Treasury, and for the Commission for Africa in 2005.


Jerry Marshall of Transformational Business Network (TBN). Jerry is General Manager of TBN (, a Christian-based network of business and professional people committed to using enterprise to alleviate poverty. Jerry is a Cambridge economist, a Chartered Marketer and an entrepreneur, who founded a consultancy (, a social enterprise ( and a high growth technology company ( In the 1990s he became involved in SME business development in the West Bank and Gaza and since joining TBN in 2004 he has been developing projects in Palestine, include design and print, olive wood products and establishing a Business Process Outsourcing company ( In 2007 he took a step back from his UK companies and was appointed part time TBN Network Development Director and General Manager in May 08.



Monday 28th April…    

We focussed on Green issues and environmental sustainability.  We heard from two speakers who have both built businesses with a green focus. In both cases these businesses make a positive contribution to environmental sustainability, while providing a competitive product or service.


 James Swanston of GoLow Transport.  James is CEO and co-founder of GoLow Transport (, a green business focused on reducing the environmental impact of transport in the UK. James has been an entrepreneur and founder in a range of technology businesses and investment activities, starting his first business at the age of 19. James is also the CEO of European Young Professionals (; a social enterprise presently based in Bangkok and Thailand with over 5,000 members representing 45 nationalities.  James holds three bachelor degrees (Law, International Business and Arts in Modern Asian Studies), a Diploma in Export Management and a Master of International Relations and Asian Politics. He is a graduate of the Royal Military College Duntroon.



Andrew Dyckhoff of Green Action.  Andrew is the founder of Green Action ( whose mission is to make a”double difference” by getting businesses to use environmentally friendly products and in the process raise money for social action. He will be sharing his experiences as a serial entrepreneur and facilitating an interactive session to discuss the challenges, frustrations and joys of having an unreasonable desire to make a difference in the world. Come and share the secrets of your entrepreneurial success: how to maintain momentum in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, indifference, complacency, reluctance to change, people who say “yes” because your idea is a “no-brainer” and then do nothing etc


Monday 31st March …
We explored the subject of philanthropy and giving in the context of ethical business.  We had two speakers that believe in the potential for business to unlock wealth for charities and social enterprises.  
Peter West of London Partnership. Peter has an extensive history of working with charities and in 1992 he began working as a project consultant to private charitable trusts and foundations before setting up his own charitable initiative in 1995.  Since 1995 he has set up 3 major philanthropic initiatives: viz: Trusts in Partnership, Giving Works and Young Philanthropists. These initiatives promote the Individual Social Responsibility of Wealth (ISR).  Trusts in Partnership is a member of London First and a founder member of Heart of the City. Known as a Philanthropic evangelist; Peter is also about to launch another philanthropic initiative called Be Significant in partnership with the Institute of Directors.  Peter is also a founder of Yeldall Christian Centres – drug and alcohol abuse – rehabilitation  
Charles McLachlan of the Transformation Development Partnership –   Charles is a founding partner of the Partnership  The Partnership specializes in the integration of all four dimensions of enterprise outcome: economic, social, environmental and spiritual to build ‘4D Enterprise’.  The business builds long term relationships and journeys with individuals, teams, enterprises and communities that are committed to radical transformation to model a 4D Enterprise.  Charles is a compulsive entrepreneur enabler with almost 25 years working with early stage or rapidly growing organizations whether Advanced Technology at Arthur Andersen (0 – 2000 worldwide in 3 years) or incubating CCCV in a Grade 1* listed restoration programme with single full-time staff member.  
On Monday 25th February …
Rob Wilson of READ International.  Rob is founder of READ; an international development charity, based in 11 UK universities, led by 250 student volunteers looking to expand to various Developed and Developing World countries.  READ deliver collaborative, student-led initiatives to improve access to education across the world and increase youth participation in the global community.  Since founding READ Rob has won a £20,000 Unltd Level 2 award, was a finalist in the Daily Mail Enterprising Young Brits Awards 2006 and winner of the Social Enterprise Day 2006 award.  READ International won Best New UK Charity in 2007 Charity Times Awards.  Following this impressive start Rob was invited to launch READ on the national stage in the House’s of Parliament in October 2007. 
On Monday 28th January …  


Mark Riches of Synergy.TV – Mark is a director of Synergy.TV; a Digital Innovation Lab responsible for Radiowaves (A large network of school internet radio stations) and NUMU (a unique platform for young people to publish original music, collaborate and compete in music charts).  Mark is a creative and innovative thinker that has brought a number of opportunities and relationships together to create a portfolio of projects under Synergy TV.  He also has a sensitive approach to packaging products by making them engaging and accessible to user groups.  


Alastair Wilson, CEO of School of Entrepreneurs  SSE now runs in five locations in the UK and one in Ireland and takes developing social entrepreneurs that are committed to affecting change in their situation.  The school brings students through a nine month programme which equips the students and develops a support network to launch a sustainable enterprise.  Alistair was a student of SSE in 1998 and went on to launch a successful Social Enterprise Homeless Direct. Alastair then returned and has been CEO of SSE for over three years. 


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