A former South Wales Argus paper boy has become the youngest BNI chapter president in the UK at the age of 23.

The new BNI group was launched at the Parkway Hotel, Cwmbran on November 1.

Chapter president Joe Lane, of GPS Financial and who leads the new group, is a property finance specialist and mortgage adviser. He will lead the BNI Gwent group for year.

The referral marketing organisation has previously had a Chapter President who was 21, but Joe is currently the youngest Chapter head.

Joe, from St Julians, Newport, started his first letting agency business at the tender age of 16 with £600 saved up from his job as an Argus paper boy.

He said: “I set up a website and registered with the ombudsman. Because I was young, I had to work hard to get people to take me seriously. I would go to meet prospective landlords with tenants already interested in the property, something no other agent was doing.

“Their properties were let quickly and that helped build my reputation.”

Joe, who went to St Julians School, had always been entrepreneurial. Aged eight he made his first sale – flower pots – and he had an interest in finance which led him to study for ACCA qualifications as an accountant.

“I was going to be an accountant but I soon realised that I was sales driven and needed to start my own business,” he said.

Eight months ago, Joe and two business partners began investing in property. Since then, they have developed a substantial portfolio worth more than £1 million.

Joe aims to lead the new group of 22 members to become a 50-member BNI Chapter within its first year.

The group aims to do £5m of business per year over the next few years.

BNI members pass referrals to one another which help to grow everyone’s businesses, supporting jobs and the local economy.

Each group has one seat per category, with competing businesses locked out.