Recently we saw the launch of Big Venture Challenge, of which the IoD is a supporting partner, a fantastic new competition to find 25 of the nation’s most ambitious social entrepreneurs and give them the chance to fast-track their ventures to the next level. The initiative, run by UnLtd and supported by the Big Lottery Fund and the Millennium Awards Trust, is in three stages – offering 25 winning entrepreneurs £25,000, the best 10 £50,000 in matched funding, and a massive £100,000 to the very best two.
Big Venture Challenge seeks to provide the leverage for ambitious social entrepreneurs to scale their ventures up in order to meet increasing social needs in a time of significant public service budget constraints. These ventures are a key solution to fill the ever-growing gap between publicly funded services and society’s needs. As well as providing crucial services, social ventures stimulate economic growth by contributing more than £24 billion to the economy.
There is a clear gap in the social investment market between small start up funds and later stage investment for established social ventures. Big Venture Challenge will help bridge and stabilise this gulf by providing flexible co-investment finance of up to £175,000 for these mid-market social ventures, making a direct bridge between start-up and success. This competition aims to reduce the risk in the early stages of growing a social venture through business and financial support and to attract new investors into this space through the innovative co-investment model.
With 238,000 people starting or planning to start a social venture in the UK, social entrepreneurs are key to providing alternative, innovative solutions to social problems across England, and also to economic renewal.
The Challenge has received more than 1,000 registrations already, but if you or someone you know fits the description of a social entrepreneur whose venture is past the start-up stage and is in need of funds to scale up to the next level, visit www.bigventurechallenge.com to find out more. The closing date is the end of June, so get applying and good luck.