East London schoolboy dubbed 'wolf of Walthamstow' urges London's teenagers to swap gangs and crime for business

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An east London schoolboy who was dubbed the “wolf of Walthamstow” after making thousands of pounds through a playground tuck shop has urged London’s teens to swap crime for business.

Nathan John-Baptiste, 15, said he would “one thousand per cent” encourage youngsters tempted to join gangs or deal drugs to instead consider setting up their own legal money-making schemes.

The schoolboy, who started his business aged just 12, employed a dozen sellers working in three different schools at the height of his success – before teachers put a stop to his antics.

He said he was making around £200 a day from both the tuck shop trade and a separate business making soaps and bath bombs.

Now Nathan, who is turning his hand to online business, told the Standard entrepreneurship can offer teenagers an alternative life.

“I have seen people end up going down the wrong path and people getting involved in gangs,” he said.

“I would say, there’s other ways to do things. The amount of work you have got to put into drugs, and you are still working for somebody else. 

“From what I do now I am making a lot more money. There are lots of opportunities in business.”

The teenager first got into business after wanting to earn money but was too young for employers to seriously consider his CV.

“Nothing was happening through me sending off CVs,” he said. “People weren’t getting back to me.

“That made me sort of think I want to start my own business. So I started the sweets.

“I started to buy sweets from the penny shop then sell them in school in bulk packaging. It was all going well, in year eight I had two sellers and I started realising the opportunity of making money work for me.”

He expanded to three sellers in year nine and by the following year had a total of 12 sellers across another three schools in Chingford, Leytonstone and Wanstead.

“I was very hungry for money,” he added. “But I was working hard with school work, I wanted to make money at the same time.”

On top of this, Nathan also ran a small barber shop business called Young Trims and held down a job at a market stall. 

“I would wake up at 5am – going to bed early is the key – and go down to work before school,” he said.

“It changed my life massively,” the teenager told the Standard. “The amount of business opportunities I now know that are out there that so many other people have never heard of.

“And at this age is the best time to get into business because if you lose it all you’ve still got a roof over your head, you’ve still got food on the table.

“Your dreams will not come to you easy, but it is hard work.”

He now plans to set up a small foundation with his mentor, businessman and consultant Paul Sullivan, to inspire other youngsters to get into business at a young age. 

Mr Sullivan, 39, said the foundation aims to help inspire and develop business skills in young people who are entrepreneurially-minded.

The pair project, which is yet to be named, aims to nurture youngsters’ business skills through training, with Mr Sullivan hoping it will get more teenagers off the streets.

“People forget peer pressure is a really big thing,” he said.

“You can have peer pressure in a positive and negative way. Gang culture is obviously the negative side, but it can also be used to urge people to stay off the streets and progress”.

Nathan’s mum, Sharon, echoed her son’s pledge to encourage more teenagers to take up business as an alternative to joining gangs.

“Children want to earn money and that’s why children do go on the wrong road and turn to crime,” she said.

“It’s a parent’s worst nightmare, trying to keep their children from going down that road. 

“We all need to take more responsibility as a society to make sure this doesn’t happen.

“I feel like it’s a shame, there needs to be more opportunities for children at a younger age.”

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