We talk to Josh Babarinde, Founder and CEO of CrackedIt. CrackedIt was awarded Social Enterprise of the Year 2018 by the Centre for Social Justice, was named one of “London’s best iPhone fixers” by the Evening Standard, and was featured as “one to watch” in The Observer’s Rising Stars of 2017.
Can you tell us about CrackedIt and what the motivation was behind it?
CrackedIt is a social enterprise phone repair service which is staffed by young ex-offenders and youths at risk, which started in April 2016. Before then, I worked as a youth worker in East London with young ex-offenders and youths at risk. It was during my work there that I noticed there was a gap in the service for getting these young individuals into work. That is how I got the motivation to build a social enterprise around the technology sector that can provide an alternative to these individuals at risk to gain some work experience and to prevent them from reoffending.
This sounds like a brilliant venture. So how does this all work?
It works in two ways. First, we get referrals from organisations working with young people at risk and ex-offenders, such as the Metropolitan Police and local authorities. After getting these referrals, we then work with these individuals to try and get them some work experience with us.
Secondly, we run a street outreach programme, where we go where young people live such as housing estates and council estates to talk to individuals about our enterprise and how we are there to help young people at risk and ex-offenders.
You have received a lot of acclaim from social figures and institutions, can you tell us how the business is doing?
The business is doing very well. I am happy to say since its creation in April 2016, we have worked with over 150 young people. Two-thirds were in employment, education or training within 6 months and 80% did not reoffend.
We know starting a business is never easy. Tell us the difficulties you faced in setting up this social enterprise?
On a practical level, obtaining funding to get the business running and securing clients to partner with was very difficult. People are reluctant to engage with something new and innovative. While on a personal level, having never run a business before, it was very challenging. Being resilient and confident even after being rejected by people is very important going forward, it takes lots of confidence in the early days.
You must have been faced with some difficult legal issues with little or no legal budget for advice – how did you initially go about it?
One of the legal issues that was of concern to me was the protection of intellectual property rights. I was fully aware that we were doing something great and different and it was important for me to protect those rights.
How did you hear about qLegal?
I learnt about qLegal from a lecturer who taught me during my studies and he suggested I should look up qLegal on the internet, which I did!
How was the quality of advice you received from qLegal?
The advice I got from qLegal was of a very high quality. What was fantastic about it, was that it was the first time I felt I had a strong backing, in getting professional advice. The two student advisers took my legal issues very seriously and were keen to know more about how CrackedIt operated. They were very professional, which I found impressive!
Do you have any word of advice for those out there looking to start their own businesses?
No one is a self-made business person, every entrepreneur relies on the support of people around them. So do not be afraid to ask for help, there are lots of people out there happy to help. Initiatives like qLegal are there to help you, by providing free legal advice which I greatly benefitted from.”