Good Leaders Podcast Episode 8 – Azzees Minott: ‘We always saw social investment as a big ugly shark that eats equity'

What does it take to lead a pioneering organisation in the new impact economy? In our Good Leaders podcast, founding editor Tim West grills some of those balancing purpose, profit and personal challenges, as they navigate the ups and downs of mission-driven business. This month: Azzees Minott, co-founder of SE100 winner, 2-3 Degrees.

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Azzees Minott and Carl Konadu built successful careers against the odds. Both came from socio-economically deprived communities in inner London, but were outstanding students and ended up at university. It was not only what they learned in the classroom that got them top jobs, however. Forming an unlikely friendship while they competed to be top of their class, they mentored, coached and supported each other, resulting in both students lining up “really great jobs” before they even graduated.

They continued to support each other with this informal personal development as working professionals – and figured this was something special they could offer to others, too.

So the pair launched 2-3 Degrees, a social enterprise that helps young people learn the practical life skills they’re not taught at school. Eventually, Minott and Konadu ditched their day jobs and focused 100% on the company; it now has its own offices and recently secured investment from Sumerian Foundation – a deal that earned them the SE100 Social Investment Award this year.

We've always had a point to prove

Minnott explains how her initial suspicions about social investment faded when she found the right investor. 

“We never thought about social investment, because we always saw it as this big ugly shark that comes and eats equity, and Carl and I have always been committed to ownership… the thing that worked for us was just the openness to support us as founders, and the business and what we wanted to do. And it doesn't feel like in this relationship, we have given up that sense of ownership.”

Minnott also speaks to Tim West about leaving behind a successful career in politics, tools to tackle imposter syndrome – and why the “journey of personal development is never-ending”.

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