Jason Otenio is a larger than life character and looks younger than his 40 years, he is from Lewisham in London. He is of Kenyan origin and grew up in a caring and loving home.
As a young man he got mixed up with the wrong crowd and aged 17 he joined a gang and his life became really chaotic , selling drugs , in and out of prison and gang related crime which even led Jason to be stabbed and he is lucky to be alive.
Jason tried lots of different jobs including retail, canvassing, painting and decorating and working in clubs but nothing felt worthwhile or rewarding and he seemed to always go back to crime.
Jason was also struggling with his addiction to drugs and alcohol and made a decision to turn his life around and do something different. He moved to Portsmouth and to make a fresh start and is now almost 3 years in recovery from substance misuse which is an amazing achievement.
Part of turning his life around was to enroll on the Inspiring Enterprise program to develop an idea he had for some time but didn’t know how to get it started, do something fulfilling and ideally work with animals which he is really passionate about.
Jason’s idea “Spiritz Animal Shelter” is to provide a safe space for injured, abandoned or stray animals and its aim is to care, love, shelter and possibly train animals so they can be rehomed.
The project will also have a mobile dog grooming business offering to groom homeless peoples dogs for free to improve the wellbeing and welfare of the pets and their owners. Jason also wants to offer volunteering opportunities to homeless people and eventually work placements or training to enable them to gain employment.
Whilst on the Inspiring Enterprise program Jason learned how to develop his idea and about business planning, marketing and what it takes to be a social entrepreneur , it has also given him the opportunity to meet and network with like- minded people.
On completion of the workshops and ongoing mentoring, Jason realized the challenges he faced and wanted to know more about social enterprise and how to develop his idea further. With some encouragement he applied to the NEST program, a six week start up course at Portsmouth University and on successful completion of this has continued to work on his idea.
Over the period of a few months and including a couple of cancelled courses for animal management and other responsibilities , Jason began to feel disheartened and felt unsure if he wanted to continue with his idea.
With the support of his Inspiring Enterprise Mentor, Keith McAllister, family and friends and his own belief in his idea, Jason was encouraged to pursue “Spiritz Animal Shelter” and apply to the School of Social Entrepreneurs where he could have access to a wealth of support, guidance and experience to develop his business.
Jason said he found the application process “ nerve wrecking” but it was a healthy risk.
He was accepted and started in September, he can now see that all his hard work is starting to pay off. Jason says “The journey has been challenging , I have had lots of ups and downs with developing the idea but at the same time found it exciting and rewarding and I hope to see “Spiritz” help a lot of animals and homeless people”