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Londoner’s business trip on Richard Branson’s private island

IN THE HOT SEAT: Richard Branson interviews Nathaniel Peat during his stay at Necker Island

RICHARD BRANSON’S private Caribbean retreat might be seen as the playground of the rich and famous, but it was strictly business when the mogul opened his stunning home to a London-based entrepreneur.

Nathaniel Peat was, last month, given the opportunity of a lifetime to visit Necker Island for one-on-one advice from the Virgin boss and other global philanthropists after winning a competition to find the world’s most inspiring entrepreneurs.

The 35-year-old who grew up in Tottenham, north London, is the co-founder of GeNNex – a company that sells portable solar chargers and home power systems to people in the developing world.

It also empowers women and young people by teaching them how to build, maintain and sell these products.

Peat said: “It was an honour to be chosen by Richard and the other philanthropists to make this journey. I was the only winner in the UK, in fact, the only winner in Europe.

“To be interviewed by Richard Branson is something else, to have breakfast with him, engage in conversation with him and his family – that’s not an experience everyone gets so it was life-changing.

“I left with new things in my life that I didn’t have before, I’m a part of the network of the extended Virgin family and have direct contact with Richard. It’s just amazing.”

PARADISE: Necker Island has hosted celebrities and members of the Royal family

Peat, who is passionate about helping young people succeed, also works with disadvantaged young people in the UK through GeNNex’s school programme in which students, aged 13 and 14, design and build renewable energy products that are shipped to partner schools in Africa.

He added: “Because of my own upbringing, I’m cognisant of the reality in the inner city. I recognise the challenge young people have in their life.

“The most significant thing in this life isn’t the house you live in or the car you drive or how much money you have, it’s service. That’s the greatest thing you can tap into; when you can help a young person out.

“Young people are the most innovative and creative people. You get ideas from them. It’s inspiring to be around youth.”

Jean Oelwang, chief executive of Virgin Unite – the Virgin Group’s not-for-profit foundation, said: “At Virgin Unite, we look to support entrepreneurs from across the world, who are putting people and planet as well as profit at the heart of what they do. This was an incredible opportunity for Nat to attend a leadership gathering which brought together some of the brightest entrepreneurial talent from across the globe. GeNNex is a wonderful example of a successful business which is having a positive impact and making a real difference to people across the world.”

During the trip, also attended by comedian/campaigner Russell Brand, guests tackled subjects including prison reform, the war on drugs, climate change and the rates of suicide and depression amongst young people.

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