Cass Business School sits on the edge of East London,
and on the edge of the financial district,
of the city of London. It's a really interesting place. On the one hand,
we have probably one of the richest parts of the world with highest value of
real estate and billions of pounds, billions of dollars traded every single day.
On the other side, we have one of the poorest areas of not just London,
but the rest of the UK.
So, every day we see this kind of big gap between absolute wealth
which is generated through business and trading and the absolute poverty.
Now, this got us thinking every day, how did
these two things exist and how did they work side by side?
Are they simply two worlds which don't see each
other or can they come together in some ways?
Now, one person who we did see bringing
these two worlds together was a builder called Steve Rawlings.
He founded a building company which was called Lakehouse.
Now this building company was typical of most building companies in the area.
They slowly built up from a house in Wanstead with a small group of employees,
and they began focusing their efforts on two particular sectors.
One was affordable housing,
people who are relatively poor often provided by social housing,
and the second sector was buildings for public sector organizations,
such as education, schools etc.
And this business built up from a very small and humble beginnings,
a house in Wanstead, to his 540 employees with a turnover of 154 million pounds.
If we go back a few years,
Steve Rawlings began to realize that it was increasingly difficult to win contracts,
particularly off his social housing and also public sector clients.
That was one problem which he faced.
A second problem which he saw all around him was the poverty,
which was sometimes obvious but sometimes
hidden in the communities in which he was building in.
So, the houses which they were building were often for people who were
long-term unemployed, had a range of social problems.
And he was kind of asking a question,
"Okay, I've come from this community,
I've seen poverty around me and I'm building houses often for the poor.
So, can I provide these people with more than just building houses for them?
Can I potentially use
my growing and thriving business to
provide livelihoods for the people I'm building for?''
This led him to build and develop an organization which is called Building Lives.
Now, this Building Lives Academy,
it's a training academy,
sits alongside of Lakehouse.
And basically what this Building Lives Academy does,
is when Lakehouse goes and tenders to local government or social housing authorities,
what they're able to say is not just,
"We're going to build your building at this
rate". There are many other companies who can do that.
What they're able to say is that, "We're going to build your building at this rate
and in addition, what we can do is to provide job opportunity,
training, and work experience for people who live in the community around them."
So, this led Rawlings to start this Building Lives Academy,
which allows his company not just to provide building but also,
to provide training opportunities and also for him to build a skilled workforce.
If we look at Steve Rawlings's story,