Helping Social Ventures To Thrive: Five Things You Need To Know

Helping Social Ventures To Thrive: Five Things You Need To Know

How can more social ventures help people find meaningful employment? UnLtd’s new Venture Manager Cat Chrimes explores the new Trading for Good report.

Insights on the leadership, activity, size and social impact of small and medium sized social enterprises across the UK were published in last month’s SEUK Trading for Good report.

Trading for Good focused on a trend around employment, making clear that many social ventures are doing fantastic work to help people far from the labour market to find jobs:

69% of small and medium-sized social enterprises support individuals from disadvantaged groups, and 43% seek to employ them; for example, 29% support individuals with a learning disability.

This was music to our ears, because earlier this year, UnLtd launched Thrive, a social accelerator working with ventures that increase access to employment for people distant from the job market. Thrive will support ventures working in this field to scale up their activities, so that they can do more of the amazing work that they do. It aims to directly address the chronic gap of affordable, appropriate support and capital for high growth social ventures.

The SEUK report reinforced how many social ventures in the UK exist purely to support people from disadvantaged backgrounds into employment, to help people be independent and improve their sense of self-worth through gaining meaningful employment. This is so important, and there is a real need for the Thrive programme to support these ventures at a crucial point in their business.

With Thrive expressions of interest open until 27th March, I thought I would share the top 5 questions and answers that I am being asked about the programme to help answer any questions that you might have:

Harry Specters - UnLtd Award Winner

  1. What do you mean by access to employment?

UnLtd want to work with social ventures who provide either training and support to individuals to help them gain the confidence and skills to enter into work, or directly employ people who find it difficult to access employment.

  1. How does the programme work?

The programme is a 6-month accelerator to support you to scale up your venture. This is done through 1:1 support with your Venture Manager and also bespoke support through our specialist partners. There will also be peer to peer support and access to investment finance. We work though a 5 P’s plan where we look at the person, the people and resources, the performance, the proposition and then we work out the support plan with you, and what additional specialist support you require to make it work. We will have 2 contacts with you per month, so it is quite intensive.

  1. How does the investment work?

As part of the programme there is access to patient capital in the form of repayable investment of up to £50,000. Most ventures say that a barrier to scaling up is affordable finance, so if this is an issue that we identify, then we will look at all avenues of bridging this funding gap. The fund will offer either patient debt capital or equity investment:

The debt capital has an interest rate of 4%, with an average upfront capital repayment holiday of 6 months. The debt is designed to be repaid over 4 years, but we are building in as much flexibility into this as possible.

Equity finance will be offered to social ventures with the ability to raise share capital. Investment of £50,000 will be made in exchange for 10% equity stake, reflecting a £500,000 post-money valuation.

  1. What are the timelines for applying and for the programme?

We are taking expressions of interest until 27th March. If the EOI is accepted you will then need to complete an application form, and the deadline for completing this is 24th April. We encourage you to put in the EOI as soon as possible as this will give you more time for the application form. We will then choose eligible ventures and come to visit you and talk through your application. The final stage is a pitch to panel during the first two weeks of June where 20 ventures will be chosen for the programme. The programme starts 1st July and ends on 21st December.

  1. What’s holding me back?

I have had quite a few people say that the barrier for them scaling up is capacity. Capacity means a variety of things to us, personal capacity, staffing capacity, physical space, finance and confidence. These are issues we work through with you on the programme. We want you to feel confident that this is the right move for your venture and that you, as the person in charge has the skills and confidence to scale up, go on, just go for it!

The Thrive programme is now open for expressions of interest, go to:


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