Big Venture Challenge

The Big Venture Challenge (BVC) supported 120 ambitious social entrepreneurs with clear potential to scale.

Funded by the Big Lottery Fund, the Big Venture Challenge programme was set up in 2013 to help early stage social ventures to scale their impact. It aimed to provide intensive growth support and help social entrepreneurs access investment of between £50,000 and £250,000, traditionally a level of finance that social ventures have struggled to access.

In 2016, over 1.24 million people benefited thanks to the collective work of the Big Venture Challenge winners. They raised over £13 million in investment and UnLtd match funding. On average each venture supported 684 more people a year after UnLtd’s support.

The support

We supported ventures with a range of barriers and challenges to their growth. Our support was one to one and tailored to the needs of each individual. Our support included:

  • Business planning, financial modelling and strategic advice
  • Accessing routes to market (including connections to commissioners, clients and channel partners)
  • Operational planning and delivery
  • Governance (including connections to potential board members)
  • Coaching, mentoring and leadership support
  • Social impact measurement
  • Investment raising (both debt and equity)

The impact

Since 2013 we supported 120 social entrepreneurs to scale, 74 of whom went on to raise investment while on Big Venture Challenge. You can read more about their successes in From innovation to impact: Four years of the Big Venture Challenge.


Average increase in number of lives improved by BVC social entrepreneurs 12 months after UnLtd support.


Total investment raised by 74 BVC social ventures (including debt, equity and match funding from UnLtd).


Average increase in turnover of BVC social entrepreneurs 12 months after UnLtd support.

Want to scale your venture?

Big Venture Challenge was the first step to opening up the social investment market and create opportunities for early stage social ventures to get the support and funding they need. We are continuing to support ambitious social entrepreneurs with plans to grow. Find out how we can help your venture to scale up.

Scaling up

Our support for growing ventures

We accept applications from social entrepreneurs providing solutions to any issue. We also have particular areas that we are focusing on. Find a programme to suit your venture below. 


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