Ely, United Kingdom – Harry Specters, an award-winning premium craft chocolate maker providing training and employment for young people with autism, announced today that it has secured £430,000 in funding with the help of ClearlySo, Europe’s leading impact investment bank. With demand for premium ethical chocolate growing, Harry Specters plans to use the funding to dramatically scale marketing and operational capacity to meet this demand, and in turn to create hundreds of more jobs for people with autism.
Harry Specters was established in 2012 by Mona and Shaz Shah out of love for chocolates and a passion for creating a positive change for young people with autism. As parents of a 14-year old boy with autism, they were worried about the future of their child. According to research from the National Autistic Society, out of 350,000 people with autism of working age in the UK, only 16% are in full-time employment and 61% of those not employed are desperate to work.
Over the next five years, with the new funding, Harry Specters plans to provide much needed training and employment opportunities for more than 520 autistic people, relief to 195 carers, and help more than 100 corporates to achieve their CSR agenda.
Eleven high-net-worth individuals from the ClearlySo network participated in an equity funding round in August; this followed the UnLtd Impact Fund closing a debt round recently. Access’ The Reach Fund provided grant funding for advisory services to help Harry Specters prepare for taking on social investment, referred by Social and Sustainable Capital as a Reach “Access Point.”
Mona Shah, co-founder of Harry Specters, commented: “It was great to partner with ClearlySo, once again, for this second round of investment. We have big plans for expansion so we can meet the increasing demand for our chocolates and offer employment opportunities to more autistic people across the UK. This investment is another step in achieving those plans, and we are grateful for all the support we have received.”
Matias Wibowo, investment manager at ClearlySo, stated: “We are proud to have Harry Specters as a long-term client and help them secure funding for their business. Like many other investment opportunities ClearlySo has worked on, the Harry Specters deal proves that endorsing diversity in employment has a direct correlation to added value for staff, employers and investors alike.”
Notes to the Editors
About Harry Specters
Harry Specters offer award-winning craft chocolates to the premium market, while giving hope and confidence to young people with autism through employment and free work experience placements, where they are involved in every aspect of the business – from making and packaging the products to administration, design and photography. Mona, Shaz and their son Ash, who has autism, are behind the social enterprise which combines their passion for creating positive change for people with autism with their love for chocolate.
For every £1 of profit made at Harry Specters, Mona and Shaz decided that 60p would be set aside for furthering the social aims of the business, providing social activities for their invaluable employees as well as opportunities for their personal development.
ClearlySo is Europe’s leading impact investment bank, working exclusively with businesses, charities, and funds delivering positive social, ethical, and/or environmental impact as well as financial return.
Originally founded in 2008, ClearlySo has helped more than 130 clients raise more than £230 million in impact investment from its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors.
ClearlySo is headquartered in London.
About UnLtd Impact Fund
The UnLtd Impact Fund was launched to help overcome one of the sector’s biggest barriers – accessing investment used to grow social impact.
UnLtd’s extensive work in the sector found that social entrepreneurs urgently need access to finance and intensive support to truly thrive. The UnLtd Impact Fund has been designed to address this, with a specific initial focus on helping social ventures whose primary purpose is increasing access to employment. The fund will invest in around 35 social ventures over the next three years and comes alongside the provision of post-investment support.
About Access’ The Reach Fund
The Reach Fund was established in 2016 as part of Access’ initial strategy. It provides support to charities and social enterprises who are already close to the point of taking on social investment. In order to apply to the fund, an organisation must be referred by a social investor registered with the fund, known as an ‘Access Point’.
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