Recent News

Virgin introduces ‘The Impact Award’ to this year’s #VOOM ‘Pitch to Rich’ competition

#VOOM 2016 will see the country’s most innovative entrepreneurs compete to pitch to Richard Branson.

Virgin’s Pitch to Rich competition is back this year with even more imapct. The competition allows businesses to enter under the ‘Start-up’ or ‘Grow’ category and be in with the chance of winning a share of £1 million in prizes plus mentoring and support.

Last year ClearlySo client Aduna, an Africa-inspired, impact-driven health & beauty brand, made it to the finals with its campaign to #MakeBaobabFamous. Aduna’s goal was to create a new market and provide a sustainable income to 10,000,000 women in rural Africa, but the business was also on a mission to prove that trade is more effective than aid at relieving poverty.

Aduna’s co-founder, Andrew Hunt, said: “The campaign has transformed awareness of baobab – and it’s transformed our business.”

“Thanks to #VOOM we were able to expand our distribution from 175 Holland & Barrett stores to their full estate of 740. We’ve also been able to triple the volume of baobab we’re buying to 150 tonnes and double the number of women we source from.”

“Believe it or not we have a 35 year plan to create baobab as a billion dollar industry for rural Africa, with Aduna leading the charge – and right now, we’re on track.”

This year three additional awards have been introduced, including ‘The Impact Award’, for businesses that put social and environmental impact, as well as profit, at the heart of their business. The prize includes an all-expenses paid trip to Necker Island to join the annual four-day Leadership Gathering “Disrupting for Good”.

Find out more about #VOOM.


We’re seeking ventures building the education sector of the future

From now until Spring 2016, we will be focusing on the education sector and seeking out the most innovative and disruptive ventures tackling social issues in the education space.

As one of the fastest growing sectors of 2015, new ventures in edtech are addressing some of the longest standing issues impacting the education system. Major changes are taking place as ventures tackle the inequality in outcome and opportunities, the ‘one size fits all’ approach to teaching, and teachers’ ever increasing workload.

Innovations in education not only have the potential to reinvigorate excitement and enquiry into the learning experience but also provide an opportunity to reconsider exactly what we want and need our children to be equipped with, both for the labour market and as part of society as a whole, for an education system fit for the twenty first century.

What we looking for:

We are seeking out the most innovative and disruptive ventures in edtech in secondary and higher education, both inside and outside of institutions. We are particularly interested to hear from those that are providing solutions to:

-Student-centered, personalised learning, and accessibility of different learning types (kinesthetic, auditory and visual)

-Teachers’ unsustainable workload

-Employability – including vocational skill development and social and emotional literacy – for the modern age

But we are not limited to these areas – if you are running an ambitious, fast-growing venture that’s tackling education’s biggest challenges, then we would love to hear from you.

All our usual selection criteria apply, including: ventures must be registered in the UK, raising minimum £150,000 of investment, and have be revenue-generating (or have a large and growing user base).

How to get in touch:

Please get in touch by completing this form and referencing “Education” in the “referred by” field.

Lastly, watch this space and contribute be part of the discussion over the coming months as we explore how innovation is creating the education sector of the future.


Register your interest now for the School for Social Entrepreneur’s Fellowship course

The Fellowship is a 9 month course run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs that will help you start a social enterprise, community project or charity.

You can now register your interest for next year’s Fellowship course, which will begin on 2nd May 2016. A number of information sessions will take place during November and December before interviews early next year.

The Fellowship course is for entrepreneurial people with an idea that will make a positive difference in their community or beyond. You must have the enthusiasm, drive and commitment necessary to get a project off the ground, as well as an idea for an organisation with positive social impact.

Centred on the development of business and leadership skills, the course covers all the essentials you need to know when starting your own organisation including setting up and funding a social enterprise and communicating more effectively.

For more information and to register your interest, visit the website.

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Charity, social enterprise or CIC supporting young people? The Youth Social Action Fund is now open for applications

The Youth Social Action Fund will help organisations working with young people in lower socio-economic areas in England.

Last year Ipsos MORI carried out a face-to-face survey of over 2000 10-20 year olds to determine the proportion of young people involved in social action in the UK. The resulting report found that, despite the bad press they receive, young people are the most likely demographic to be active in helping others. A quarter of 10-20 year-olds volunteer every month, whilst over 40% have done so in the last year.

As a result of the report, the Cabinet Office has pledged its support to the Step Up To Serve #iwill campaign, which is working towards a 50% increase in youth social action (such as volunteering and campaigning) by 2020. The cabinet office has donated £1 million to the Youth Social Action fund, matched by equal funding from Pears Foundation and UK Community Foundations (UKCF).

Charlotte Hill, Chief Executive Officer of Step up to Serve, said:

“Participation in social action offers young people a wide range of tangible benefits and should be accessible to all. We are really pleased that this fund is responding directly to findings from our 2014 national survey by targeting those not currently taking part. It is also great to see funders joining forces to invest in embedding social action in the lives of young people across the UK.”

Charities, community interest companies and social enterprises are all invited to apply for support from one of two divisions of the fund:

– a national level, £1.26 million fund, jointly run with Pears Foundation to work with young people in more deprived or rural areas

– a local level £510,000 fund run and matched by UKCF, to work with young people in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire through these counties’ community foundations

If you are interested in applying for funding, you can read more about the specifications here.  Once completed, send your application to:

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 28 August 2015.


Tech start-ups with social spin take note: Dotforge Impact is open for applications

A business accelerator programme of funding and mentoring has been launched by Dotforge for the second year running.

Dotforge is on the lookout for teams using technology to drive social impact. The accelerator, which was created by a community of entrepreneurs, has recently opened a new office in Manchester, where the early stage of their new incubator programme will be held.

Applications to Dotforge Impact are strictly limited to platforms that benefit society, and Dotforge defines a tech social venture as any company that seeks to use technology for social good, either as its social goal or as a positive effect of its use.

The programme includes £18,000 of initial funding and mentoring over 9 months, at which point entrepreneurs will have the opportunity to apply for an extra £500,000. Successful applicants will attend a 13-week curriculum based in Manchester, where they will be introduced to a network of advisors and investors who will help them through their early stage growth.

Emma Cheshire, managing director, CEO and co-founder of Dotforge, said: “We have successfully graduated three programmes during the last two years and we are delighted to expand our reach through locating at Central Working in Manchester and to offer our second accelerator focused on working with new social entrepreneurs.

“We want to hear from early stage tech companies based anywhere in the UK, but they must be able to attend the 13 week programme in Deansgate, Manchester, which starts in September.

“We consider Dotforge to be an ever-growing family of founders, companies big and small in the UK across many sectors. Our aim is helping our new companies and teams to not only build a product that people will love, but that will also benefit society or the environment.”

Applications are now open for the Dotforge Impact programme, which kicks off in September. The delivery of the accelerator is supported by Key Fund and the RSA. For more information, visit Dotforge.


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