This week, 13 early-stage social enterprises from across the Midlands pitched their business plans to a panel of expert judges to secure vital funding and business development support. The event, held at Experian’s Sir John Peace Building in Nottingham, marked the halfway point of Big Issue Invest’s ‘Power Up’ Midlands programme.
The ‘Caterpillar’s Cocoon’ saw applicants pitch in front of a high-profile panel of judges. Successful entrants received the opportunity for investment and expert mentoring from Experian, Power to Change and Ocado Group.
John Montague, Director at Big Issue Group, said:
This is the third iteration of our early-stage investment programme, and it’s been fantastic to hear some excellent pitches from the 13 social ventures from across the Midlands that we selected in 2018. The region has been historically underinvested in, with a heavy reliance on the manufacturing and retail industries. Therefore, a high number of early-stage social ventures have found it difficult to access small to medium-sized loans. Working with our partners, we hope to be able to continue to support those organisations with the investment and business development expertise that will enable them to make an even greater difference within their communities.
Tony Reynolds, Head of SME for Barclays in the Midlands said: “As a bank with Midlands roots stretching back over two centuries, Barclays is wholeheartedly committed to the success of this region. We are delighted to be supporting the Power Up pilot in the Midlands, not only through funding but also through mentoring and the sharing of expertise from our colleagues. These early-stage social businesses will add real and significant value to society in the future, as well as create future employment opportunities. It is vital to help them to succeed and fulfill their full potential. Last year we demonstrated further commitment to economic and business growth in the Midlands region, with the announcement of a £370m fund for SMEs for investment to drive regional growth and create jobs.”
Tom Blacksell, Managing Director of B2B at Experian, said: “Experian is very much committed to providing opportunities, improving futures and changing lives through our support of entrepreneurial projects across The Midlands. That’s why we are extremely proud to be part of the Power Up initiative, providing much needed funding and business expertise to help get these ventures off to the strongest possible start. The programme highlights the incredible talent we have right here on our own doorstep, driving positive change in our communities. We hope the applicants involved will inspire more to follow suit and build on the great work already undertaken throughout the region.”
Mark Gordon, Director of Communications and Partnerships at Power to Change, said: “We are delighted to contribute towards this exciting new fund. We already support some fantastic community businesses in the region and we believe there is a huge amount of untapped talent in the Midlands which could really benefit from this new project. We hope that Power Up will empower even more people in the Midlands to improve their own communities from the bottom up.”