Meet Paulo Pinto, founder of the Society for Young Artists, an innovative west London startup that offers young people the chance to combine artistic self-expression with learning about finance. Paulo was at Canalside House for PBC's three daycourse, and he kindly arrived early to give us time to ask him about his story…
What is the Society for Young Artists?
‘It’s a CIC (Community Interest Company) that will run local after-school clubs to provide two things: Firstly, arts workshops, and secondly, finance workshops.
‘Every three months, there will be an art exhibition in the community where the young people can sell their art. In terms of finance, the young people will learn how to deal with the money they’ve made from selling their art, and the money they’ll make in the future as they get older: how to approach spending, saving and investing
‘There is a social aspect too. Young people are too enclosed, with video games and YouTube. This programme will give them the chance to talk about what they’ve done. It will give them the confidence to express themselves through art, and it will give them a financial education.’
How and Why did you start?
‘The Why is that I went through a similar stage to a lot of these young people. I grew up in a hostel, where you have to grow up really quickly. I was budgeting for food and clothes. A lot of people, aged between 14 and 16, couldn’t do it, but I was strict on myself and I grasped the concept really, really early. If you go for quick gratification, you’ll fall short somewhere. I’ve learned things I can pass on; like when you’re short and can’t pay a bill, you can call the company and make an arrangement most of the time.
‘So, I wanted to help everyone. When I was still a teenager, I asked for funding to start something but couldn’t get it because I was in full time education at the time. But the idea stayed with me. I want to help people who are going through what I went through.
‘The How is that six months ago, I lost my job; my daughter was in the hospital and because I couldn’t get in to work, my employer let me go.
‘I had to go to the Jobcentre. I told them: “I want to start a business;” they told me “go to PBC.”
‘In August 2019 I popped into PBC, spoke to Maria Stammers and explained the project. I’d had the concept of doing art, music and finance since I was in the hostel 15 years ago. With music there are a lot of complexities, so I decided to limit it to artistic expression and money.
What drives you?
‘It’s my experience, everything I’ve been through. Struggling to communicate, budgeting with a small amount of money. I want to approach those who don’t know how to get there.
‘I have three children as well. My son, who’s eight, just wants to save his pocket money, but I explain to him that you can break money down into small segments: some for spending, some for saving, some for investing.
‘I also think I’ll enjoy running this business. I’ll see people flourish, see them express themselves, they’ll have a say about what the community needs, they’ll invest in important causes...’
How did Portobello Business Centre help you?
‘The biggest thing was that whatever I’m trying to do, PBC see it as possible. I had one to one advice sessions with Maria Stammers and her approach was “how do we do it?” not “can we do it?” which helped me relax.
I also attended the Portobello Business Centre, Rocket Launch, three-day Start Your Own Business course, which was really helpful.
Maria referred me to other support in the area, Bash from Styleutions where I learned about positive thinking and targets, Tom from CASH who helped registering my CIC, Citizen’s Advice Bureau’s leadership programme and Kensington and Chelsea library. Google doesn’t always give you what you need, the Library has literally everything in there on a system called Mint UK, all the information you could want on business in this country.’
‘With PBC there’s always a support network, and when we’re doing something stressful support is vital.
This is a Success Story. How do you define success?
‘To me, success is doing something sustainable. And it’s to create funding for the CIC through grants.
‘In ten years, I want to be comfortable knowing that young people have benefited from this. I’ll feel the community changing, then I can walk away knowing I achieved what I wanted to.
‘Young people will come to me and thank me for helping to express themselves, make money and deal with money.
‘In the short term, success would be holding three really successful exhibitions for the community in 2020.’
Notes from the Interviewer:
Paulo Pinto and the Society for Young Artists are a perfect case study for the way Portobello Business Centre operates. PBC puts their client’s first and offer high quality training and advice whether this is delivered in-house at PBC or externally with providers and trainers we know and trust in the community.
In this way, PBC avoids duplicating the work of others, while also supporting the work being done in the local community, empowering businesses of all sizes and types. As well as providing expert advice on starting and growing a business or enterprise, PBC offers an abundance of opportunities to new and established businesses, including training courses, seminars, workshops, consultancy services, networking opportunities and access to loans.
PBC work with a team of trainers and guest speakers, if you would like to be a guest speaker and share your story on lessons learned while running a business contact Marianna@pbc.co.uk.
Interview conducted and written by Tom Charles @tomhcharles