My first encounter with the London Entrepreneurial Exchange is an invitation to the Palm Court at the Waldorf to hear a selection of successful entrepreneurs share experiences from their own business careers. I was keen to look behind the impressive quality of this event to understand the vision and driving motivations of the founder. So it was a short while later that I am sat in a buzzing bistro on Sloane Square to interview Shalini Khemka. First impressions? Thoughtful dynamism coupled with a spirit of energetic enquiry. A woman motivated by a vision for releasing the power of the wealth creators in the community to transform the future for us all.
Shalini’s first taste of entrepreneurship came in 1999 when she joined a start up delivering a trading system to provide an on-line inter-bank market for a long established trade finance product, the Letter of Credit. Over the next five years, she experienced the growth of the business to 23 people and its impact on a market which grew to more than $3 trillion a year. Then head hunted into Lloyds Banking Group to build up their inter-bank trade finance offering, Shalini was also asked to take responsibility for the ‘emerging leaders’ programme within the bank. She enjoyed being part of the small dynamic group the programme established and saw close up the power of training and development in transforming leaders. However, theentrepreneurial culture continued to beckon and at Lloyds Development Capital (LDC), she was able to work directly with entrepreneurial leaders accessing LDC’s private equity for growth opportunities in the mid-market. It was in a very strong management team, working on private equity transactions that Shalini had a fast track insight into all aspects of running a business. But it was her sympathy for the difficulties of business founders that crystallised her commitment to build the London Entrepreneurial Exchange. LDC bought into the vision and has been a foundational partner for the Exchange since its inception.
The Exchange is designed to bring together a community of go-getters with a scalable mindset. They share the capacity to take measured risks. ‘For entrepreneurs by entrepreneurs’, explains Shalini, ‘the Exchangewill be just a year old in May but already attracts an average of 300 people to each national reception, has a roster of blue chip partners and has attracted investment for members which may total as much as £3million. The three pillars are to provide: an aspirational family of entrepreneurs, best of bread access to funding and a lobbying group bring a manifesto of change to release the power of entrepreneurs to bring benefit to the whole community.’
Shalini believes that it is critical to provide entrepreneurs with a community enabling a high level of trust so that they can do business together both nationally and internationally. With her own international connections (part of a 60 strong extended Indian family reaching from the sub-continent to London and the USA), she believes that the London Entrepreneurial Exchange can proliferate to become a global network of like minded Entrepreneurial Exchanges supporting even the most ambitious growth plans of members.
But for Shalini business success is not an end it itself. ‘My mother runs a tertiary college in Nottinghamshire and I want to be able to release the wealth to build hospitals and schools particularly in the more deprived areas of the world’.
As Shalini leaves, the man next to me, (Greek/Persian/Scottish heritage running a business in Switzerland) starts to engage me in conversation about establishing a Value Added Reseller network for cloud based IP PABX in the UK. As a Kensington and Chelsea resident, Shalini truly has her finger on the entrepreneurialheart beat of London!
To find out more about the London Entrepreneurial Exchange see www.londonentrepreneurialexchange.com/
Charles McLachlan firstname.lastname@example.org