Social enterprises pitch for the chance to be next Big Issue-backed success

Thirteen Midlands-based social ventures presented their projects to an expert panel for the chance to earn funding and mentoring

Fledgling social enterprises pitched their business plans to a panel of experts this week in a Dragon’s Den style event, dubbed Caterpillars Cocoon, for the chance to follow in the footsteps of the successful Big Issue-backed Change Please and Hey Girls.

Thirteen businesses from across the Midlands met the panel in a bid to secure vital funding and business development support in Experian’s Nottingham HQ as part of Big Issue Invest’s Power Up Midlands programme, in partnership with Barclays, Power To Change and Experian.

The Power Up programme builds on Big Issue Invest’s significant expertise in social venture investment, which since its launch in 2005 has seen the organisation directly invest in more than 330 social ventures.

Among those ranks are nationwide successes like award-winning coffee cart chain Change Please, which opened a kiosk in Clapham Common underground station this year, and the period poverty busting Hey Girls products which are now stocked in ASDA and Waitrose.

John Montague, director at Big Issue Group, said it was “fantastic” to hear the pitches.

“The region has been historically underinvested in, with a heavy reliance on the manufacturing and retail industries,” he said. “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.”

The third iteration of the early stage investment programme provides mentoring and potential investment of up to £50,000 to build on the good work each venture currently does within their communities. Successful applicants will also receive business development support to social ventures for the two-year period.

Image: Experian