I am 17 years old and live in North-West London with my Mum and family. Life for me has always been challenging. I never really connected with school and was eventually kicked out of school for nearly stabbing a kid. It’s part of my life I am least proud of, but it is also a situation I am not ashamed of either. That incident is the reason I met Leap and was able to focus and make proactive steps to turn my life around. Being excluded from school does not define me! If I could go back in time, I would 100% do things differently. Now, I have better understanding of myself and how to de-escalate conflict rather than my behaviour be destructive.

But leaving school at 15 was difficult. As a young teen, how was I supposed to carve out my future, when the first thing companies and people see on CV is ‘school dropout’? For me, I was lucky enough to connect with different charities that were willing to invest in my potential and support me to develop my entrepreneurial skills that I had, one of those charities being Leap. I have been with Leap for over two years and received mentorship from one of the trustees, supporting me to develop my business plan. For the past 18 months I have also been involved in Leap’s youth ambassadors’ panel; speaking at fundraising events and attending trustee and senior management meetings. I am young in age, but I have had more life experience than those twice my age. I know what it means to push through hardships, to build a business from the ground up. I want to be successful and I want to show that those excluded from school can achieve positive things in their life.

2020 has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing in the sense that I have taken the knocks and established a new business venture. A curse in the sense this was not how I planned 2020 to go.

Earlier in the year (around February time) I was involved in interviewing one of Leap’s major donors at his offices in the Shard, London and then several weeks later everything changed. I have found the transition from face-to-face contact to online really hard. My preferred learning style is to be in the same room as people. I find it easier to understand what someone is thinking and feeling by how they communicate through their body and facial expressions. All of that is lost with Zoom and FaceTime calls.

I was 13, when I created my own business, DeluxeTreasure and during the peak of lockdown set up Future Talent Management; a talent agency for young artists, actors and models. The second company I am most proud of because through this project I have developed new skills, like video production and how to generate income for the business. In September, we released a music video of one of our artists and it received 150,000 in a day [now it’s approaching half a million views]. That is crazy! This shouldn’t happen to someone like me with my background, but it is, and I am excited for what’s ahead.

My focus for the rest of 2020, is to find part-time work so that I can invest in the company. Also, my business partner and I are working with music companies to build connections and find editorial coverage for our artists. I am driven and committed to being successful. Established Artist and Repertoire in the music industry like what I am doing and are cheering me on, which gives me confidence has I plan for 2021. Sky’s the limit!

To support other Leap graduates to fulfill their potential like Haroun, you can give online or connect with our team creating employment opportunities with Leap graduates following a course.