The Entrepreneur Ship 2023: Sam Glover’s solo Atlantic Row to raise funds and Evie Keough’s inspirational journey to founding Boromi

Nicola Curtis

External Affairs Lead

12th December 2023

9:00am

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We are delighted to introduce Sam Glover, solo rower for The Entrepreneur Ship 2023, as it launches to raise money for the Growth Impact Fund's Technical Assistance Fund, along with Evie Keough, founder of Boromi, an award-winning recipient of that fund.

As Sam begins his epic 3,000-mile fundraising row across the Atlantic, he reflects on what brought him to this point.

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"There have been so many times on this journey when I've thought, gosh, I don't think I'm going to make this. It's hard, it's long and I've only just got to the start line. And that is, of course, a large part of the challenge."

"Sometimes we think the end game is really what the challenge is about but often it is just getting up and running."

Boromi

Evie Keough is the founder of Boromi, a multi-award-winning network of non-profit Play Libraries, and a recipient of an award from Growth Impact Fund's Technical Assistance Fund. Like Sam, her journey to launch was one of grit and determination with many a curve ball to deal with along the way.

A teacher by training, it was at the beginning of Evie's career that she became particularly interested in the impact and importance of the home environment on children's early learning and development. To help her class's parents nurture their children's development outside school, she had the idea to simply begin stapling plastic pockets to her classroom door of things they could borrow, for example – guidance on a game to play or an activity to do. That went down so well, the idea evolved into 'borrowing baskets', little wicker baskets filled with things like – ingredients for play dough or small instruments to play.

"At this stage I never thought it was going to be a business one day or that it would eventually scale into a national programme."

"I was doing it because I had families that I knew I could help."

When Evie moved to her next job at a larger school and tried out the idea on a bigger scale, she soon realised that it was not going to be sustainable alongside working as a full-time teacher. That's when the idea of Boromi as an idea to help others was born. So, she used her own money to create eight little wooden (Borrow Me) boxes, emailed round lots of schools and dropped off dozens of leaflets to see if any would consider trialling the concept free for a few weeks.

Prototype Boromi box handmade by Evie with materials from Hobbycraft and Homebase

The first school to respond positively was an early moment of joy and validation which spurred her on. She still has the screenshot of that email.

Precious screenshot of the first school to say 'yes' to Boromi boxes

At the same time, she applied for a Teach First Innovation Award, thinking it would help her focus on putting together a business concept rather than believing she had any chance of winning. But she did win and with the six months of salary provided by the Teach First award, she was able to step out of the classroom to develop her idea to pilot stage.

A further award from UnLtd allowed her to run a trial on a small scale – firstly, with three schools in January 2018, then 12 schools over the summer term, before launching in September 2018 with 25 schools, the very same month she gave birth to her first child.

"Olive was born the same month that we launched Boromi. It was very challenging because she was premature. My waters broke at 29 weeks, but thankfully she wasn't born until 36 weeks, so I was in hospital for most of that time with various complications."

"I just kind of carried on from my hospital bed. I literally had webinars with schools in hospital."

Baby Olive is not too young to help out with advertising!

Evie admits there were multiple times when she questioned what she was doing. After all, she'd given up a stable career with maternity leave and a pension for a future with no guarantee of any money. But ultimately, she found the wobbles just made her more determined to make the idea she passionately believed in a success, however tough it got.

Managing to be comfortable with feeling vulnerable and okay with not knowing all the answers was a good survival tool.

"I was definitely not an expert in setting up or running a business and all the various challenges this throws at you. I'm very happy to admit to that and ask for support. I've had to quickly become very comfortable with being flexible and the need to constantly evolve and adapt to keep moving forwards."

Evie filling Boromi bags before hand-delivering them to schools pre-launch in 2018

Find out more about Boromi and The Entrepreneur Ship 2023.

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