Two budding entrepreneurs who overcame gang crime and homelessness have secured funding to launch businesses that could transform youngsters' lives.

Kyle Richards, 21, and Charlene Jones, 27, hope to help troubled young people after impressing a panel of "dragons" to secure grants for their start-ups.

Mr Richards, a former gang member who spent time in jail for violent crimes and was himself stabbed and shot at, will launch an intervention service to steer teens away from crime and hopes to establish a recruitment firm for ex-offenders.

Miss Jones, who lived in a hostel after being kicked out of home aged 17, is to employ young people to provide support for the elderly.

The pair, among 10 aspiring entrepreneurs from disadvantaged backgrounds to have won up to £8,000 funding from the Frontline London campaign, dream of helping youngsters follow their example by turning their lives around.

Mr Richards, who grew up in Thornton Heath before being jailed for 18 months, said: "I was involved in a lot of bad stuff in Croydon.

"I was stabbed severely three times and shot - but at the end of the day it made me who I am.
"I have experienced resistance on both sides of the story.

"If it wasn't for me being so motivated I don't know how I'd have had a job but some people don't have that motivation and that is exactly why a recruitment for ex-offenders is pivotal."

Miss Jones, a former Selsdon High School pupil, was left homeless as a teenager after her mum lost patience with her getting into trouble and being excluded from school.

While living in a hostel she decided she wanted to have a positive impact on society and dreamed up her business while working for a meals-on-wheels service.

She said:  "When I was younger I was a bit lost and didn't know what to do but I knew who I was and that I liked to listen to people and support them.

"Before I started working with elderly people I didn't know much about life and I was still boxed in, but I learned so much about other people and also myself.

"My service would have help people like me because it would have enabled them to have some experience, confidence in themselves and to learn a lot more."

The scheme is funded by Lloyds Bank and Cabinet Office following an Evening Standard campaign.