Leicester businessman Yatin Solanki has a ‘mission possible’ – to change the lives of people who run many of the region’s small to medium businesses.
His quest has developed a philanthropic twist after he admits to sometimes doing work for nothing to help new companies and sole traders and many local charities.
The former teacher who is a director at YS Marketing has a good reason for this generous attitude and it is connected to his family.
Yatin, 42, said: “When my five-year-old daughter gets older, I don’t want her to see whole streets of closed shops. I want her to grow up with thriving businesses which are part of a thriving community. Small businesses are vital for a city like Leicester. In Market Street there are more shops closed than open these days which is a huge shame and that has to change for the better.
“I want to give back to our communities and for us to help each other. I have had some strange reactions when I offer to help with no invoice attached. I have had businessmen and women look at me and say ‘You’re going to help me and not charge me? Why would you help me like this?’
“My answer is always the same. I always tell them coffee and advice come free. After that, when you expand and can afford to pay for my help, I hope it will be me you come to.”
Yatin’s background is in education and he taught business studies and computer studies in a Leicestershire secondary school for 15 years. He said: “I loved 13 of those years but the pressure to increase test scores and prepare for school inspections added to my stress.
“The children in my classes always had fun while learning. But to be successful in exams you must simply have a good memory and that’s no right. He still smiles when he remembers his leaving gift. The school, the sixth formers organised a cake with these words iced on top: ‘You’re dead to us sir’. I loved that. We shared the same sense of humour.”
His instincts to help his community come from his upbringing in a house where there was not much money around. He was a latch-key kid in inner-city Leicester, looking after his younger brother who is ten years younger. His father was a manual labourer and his mum worked in hosiery? “People helped me and now it is time to give something back,” Yatin said.
Yatin is a volunteer for the Prince’s Trust, helping NEET children (not in education, employment or training) find some purpose in their lives. He offers free business training for to local charities and provides as much support and pro bono work as he can. Yatin helps out in his home village of Birstall too where he and fellow villagers are working to make the main street more attractive to shoppers.
With his business hat on, he knows that the value of marketing. “If you are a new business, one of the first things you need to do is build up your reputation. You need a marketing expert. If I don’t help these new companies, who will?” he said, hoping that by helping to grow businesses communities will thrive and the knock-on effect is that everybody wins.
Within 12 months of setting up YS Marketing, Yatin works for businesses large and small. His clients include a Fortune 500 company and a small-scale sole trader. “I’m very passionate about helping others succeed”, he says, “whenever I speak to a business owner I involve myself and work hard to see them succeed, their success is my success”.
Yatin has a small but passionate team who share in his ideology and always agree to support pro bono and charity work. “We don’t chase the money” he says, “lets support businesses’, grow our communities and the money will come”.