INSPIRATIONAL businessman John Bird knows all about building up a business from nothing.
John founded The Big Issue in London 13 years ago - since when it has spread across the world.
The latest edition - sold on the streets to help homeless people - has been launched in Osaka and Tokyo, Japan.
John is the keynote speaker at the Examiner Business Awards.
John is hailed as an inspiring speaker with a real rags-to-riches tale to tell.
"I have a lifetime of experience to draw upon," he said.
"I was born into the underclass, made homeless at the age of seven, in prison by the time I was a teenager, slept rough on the streets of London, and from there went on to buying and selling products and services, and building businesses."
John Bird was born into post war London, into a slum in a London Irish ghetto.
He suffered privation and homelessness from an early age.
As a youngster, he was never out of trouble - getting involved in shoplifting, housebreaking, arson and vandalism.
In his teens, he started to read, paint and write. At the age of 18, he went to Chelsea School of Art.
In his early twenties, he got involved in Marxism - but the revolution never arrived and he became a printer, setting up his own printing and publishing business.
In the late 1980s, he met up again with an old friend, Gordon Roddick, who had started Body Shop with his wife Anita.
Gordon helped inspire John to set up a street paper.
The Big Issue has become a phenomenal success with accolades and awards for John and his work.
The most recent award was the UN Scroll of Honour Awards in 2004.
John's autobiography, Some Luck, charts his colourful story - and underlines his belief that people should be helped to help themselves.
Now aged 60, John has recently married for the third time and has five children.
John has addressed audiences at the UN in New York, Nairobi and Istanbul, at Number 10 Downing Street, at Buckingham Palace and at countless charity dinners.
He has spoken in the presence of Prince Charles, UN secretary general Kofi Annan, the Princess of Wales and Prime Minister Tony Blair.
Most of his businesses have been social enterprises - set up to help people, with most of the profits going back into social support work.
His major role now is coming up with new business ideas - and speaking at business forums, in prisons, to police officers and to corporate and professional bodies.
"I always try and explain that you have to be businesslike in whatever work you are doing," said John, who received the MBE for his work.
"Even if it is giving services to the poor, you have to think about delivery, levels of services and the products you are selling.
"To me, inspiring people is little more than allowing them to achieve what they themselves want to achieve."