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West Wickham man quits City job for charity role in Africa

PUBLISHED: 11:29 19 May 2016 | UPDATED: 11:29 19 May 2016

Geoff Knowles (far right) with other volunteers on the Challenges Worldwide programme

Geoff Knowles (far right) with other volunteers on the Challenges Worldwide programme

Archant

He will travel to Zambia to provide help for small businesses

A man from West Wickham who has quit his job in financial services to work for a charity hopes he can inspire others to make a difference.

Twenty-four-year-old Geoff Knowles has spent three years working in the City of London, but he recently left his position on a graduate scheme with a Japanese investment bank to join Challenges Worldwide.

On June 13, he will be travelling to Zambia, where he will spend three months leading an 18-strong team of volunteers working with local enterprises to help improve the economy.

Mr Knowles told the Bromley Times: “I was working some fairly long hours and I thought, if I could be applying that same work ethic to those communities most in need, then I could hopefully make a small amount of difference that I wouldn’t be making in financial services.

“With 24-hour news, we are exposed to a large amount of information and I just thought, you have all this information but at some point you have to start acting on it. If not now, when?”

The volunteer role involves helping small and medium-sized enterprises in Ghana to attract a more diverse customer base - for example, by building them a website or designing an advertising programme.

“Often, the environment they operate in can be dominated by instability and corruption, so we want to get them from that point to where they can be marketed to western investors,” he explained.

Mr Knowles is being supported by friends and family, as well as girlfriend Katy Cummins, who will remain in the UK.

He is raising money via a Justgiving page, and has approached the Rotary Club, the Lions Club and Beckenham MP Colonel Bob Stewart to drum up support for his cause.

After returning from Zambia, he intends to study a masters in International Development at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Ultimately, he hopes that he will encourage others to make a difference in their communities and the wider world.

“In the last few years, when young people have struggled to find jobs, the concept of community has faded a bit from our generation, and the best way to encourage someone to make a change and do something is to have a role model,” Mr Knowles said.

“While I am just one example, I hope if someone reads about this, they will think, if he can do something, then why not myself?”

Mr Knowles’ Justgiving page is at https://www.justgiving.com/Geoff-Knowles

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