Thriving at work: helping businesses to deliver greater social impact

A business that trains young people how to use lasers, a consultancy on a mission for more diversity in the construction industry, and an award-winning organisation getting disabled people into jobs are just some of the ventures to win a place on UnLtd’s Thrive programme this year.

18 social ventures have won a place on the 2019 Thrive programme - a social accelerator which aims to help ambitious social ventures to scale up and deliver greater impact.

The programme offers a unique mix of finance, tailored expert advice and pro-bono support, along with the opportunity to secure investment of up to £50,000. This mix of support aims to help ventures to build connections, secure further investment, and really scale their operations.

Social ventures often face complex barriers as they look to scale. Our own research suggests that the main barriers to growth are accessing capital, establishing routes to market, finding talent, and measuring impact. Thrive is designed specifically to support ventures to address these challenges and enable growth.

UnLtd supports around 25 social ventures a year through Thrive, focusing on supporting ventures that are working to tackle social challenges in two distinct areas:

  • Improving access to employment for those distant from the labour market.
  • Developing products and services for an ageing society.

Ventures on this programme are focusing on improving access to employment, and those to win a place on the programme in 2019 include:

  • AALFY – through their Learn-Create-Sell programme, Sheffield-based AALFY help young people into employment, by providing opportunities for them to learn how to use laser-cutting technology to design and create products.
     
  • Built by Us – a consultancy on a mission to create a more diverse workforce in the construction industry, by running training programmes for people under-represented in the industry, and providing consultancy services to businesses that want a more diverse workforce (pictured below).
     
  • Evenbreak – an award-winning organisation that matches disabled people to job roles and supports employers to become more accessible and inclusive.
     
  • A Fairer Chance – an organisation that has supported more than 1200 ex-offenders into meaningful jobs, and works with employers to better understand their skills needs and shortages.
     
  • Greenstream Flooring CIC – an environmentally conscious sustainable flooring business that provides training and jobs for local people in the Rhonda Valley in South Wales.
     

The Thrive programme is only possible thanks to funding and support from four key partner organisations, UBS, Scope, Thirty Percy, and City & Guilds Group.

David Bartram, Director of Ventures at UnLtd, said “It’s fantastic to see this new cohort of social ventures joining the Thrive programme. It’s been specifically designed to address the challenges that we know ventures face in terms of accessing expert advice and support, building networks and gaining access to funding opportunities.

“While current unemployment figures in the UK are low, not everyone with the desire to work is able to gain appropriate, meaningful employment. This is particularly the case for people furthest from the labour market, such as disabled people, refugees, ex-offenders, and those who are homeless. We’re excited about the prospect of being able to support more ventures to scale up through the Thrive programme, thanks to crucial support from our partners.”

Last year, the multiple award-winning smartphone repair service CrackedIt (pictured above) won a place on the Thrive programme. It trains and employs young ex-offenders and those at risk to work at pop-up repair clinics, supporting them to transition into jobs in the wider workplace. Winner of several awards in the last few years (including Social Enterprise of the Year at the Evening Standard Business Awards 2019), Cracked It received expert support from UnLtd on the programme last year and secured equity investment of £50,000.

Thrive builds on the learning from UnLtd’s Big Venture Challenge work, a similar programme which supported 120 ventures and raised more than £13 million of investment.

For more information please contact the UnLtd press office at comms@unltd.org.uk or call 07713 110410.

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