Bristol business turns drug dealers into valued entrepreneurs

Entrepreneur Clayton Planter is transforming his community in Bristol by turning drug dealers into legitimate, ambitous businessmen contributing to the local economy.

Clayton is based at the Entrepreneurial Spark Powered By NatWest hub in the city and has just graduated through the Sprint programme.

In a recent interview in the Bristol Post, Clayton talked about how society probably thinks in the wrong way about drug dealers in the city. His experience of the St Paul's and Easton communities has taught him that harnessed in the right way their knowledge and skills in managing trade can be an asset - what the Bristol Post referred to as 'an untapped reserve of business genius'.

Clayton's own background as a youth worker for the City Council led him to the idea of Street2Boardroom and he initially worked with the Prince's Trust to get his idea off the ground.

It was the entrepreneurial spirit of the local drug dealers and his passion for putting these skills to work for the good of the community which drove his start-up success.

Clayton told the Bristol Post: "These guys are ambitious, they’re sophisticated people managers, they’re strategic planners and they’re risk-takers – the only difference is that they’re making their money outside the law.

"I realised that if these guys could be given the confidence to develop a career within a corporate environment, they could really flourish – because many of them were business geniuses."

“They just need that initial confidence boost to tell them that they can do it – they too can thrive in a corporate environment. The big message is always that it’s not where you come from, it’s where you’re going that matters."

After working with his Entrepreneurial Spark Enablers at his local Bristol hub, Clayton was able to take a more strategic view of his business and has started developing new strands.

Both a book and a board game are in development with an Apprentice-style TV show in the pipeline.

Clayton said: “I could always see that it would make great TV. So I wasn’t surprised when no fewer than seven production companies registered an interest in it.

"But in the end I chose to go with the production team behind The Apprentice – because I knew that they’d do it right. You can just see this working in something like The Apprentice format.”

Bristol Enabler Olly Reid said: “Clayton is a fantastic example of why the Sprint programme works. By engaging with us on every level and focusing on his mindset he has managed to hone his skills, build his team and develop new ideas.


Street2Boardroom is an amazing local community project that is now looking to grow into a scalable business.”



Click here to view the full article in the Bristol Post.


Want to know how you could work with Entrepreneurial Spark to start, grow or scale your business? Click here to view our four bespoke enablement programmes.