2013 was a big year for the Big Venture Challenge (BVC). The programme, which supports ambitious social entrepreneurs with access to finance, business support and powerful connections, is delivered by UnLtd, ClearlySo and The Shaftesbury Partnership.
The Shaftesbury Partnership specifically is supporting the entrepreneurs to build high-impact networks that will accelerate their scaling. This builds on our own experience of growing ventures by drawing upon the insight and capabilities of diverse individuals and organisations from across sectors. We are using our own strong networks to introduce the BVC participants to the people they need in their networks. Investment and match funding is a key part of the programme, so among the most important connections we make are to the people that can help with the skills, expertise, knowledge, gravitas, and security that investors want to see.
The ventures on the current programme come from 3 cohorts: a themed cohort (health), a regional cohort (the North) and an open cohort (any location and any sector). In 2013, our ventures were supported with nearly £1m of BVC match funding alongside deals worth almost £1.8m in external investment, helping BVC winners to deliver significantly scaled-up social impact across England and beyond. Our ventures have also received prizes and recognition from the likes of SEUK, SEDA and RBS SE100 awards.
Applications are now open for Big Venture Challenge 2014, and the search is on for another 30 outstanding social entrepreneurs who are committed to scaling up their social impact. The 12-month programme will once again include a themed cohort (education & youth), a regional cohort (the Midlands) and an open cohort.
Applicants have just a few weeks left to apply, with the window open until 9am on 10th February. If you are interested in applying for the programme, or nominating a social venture, or making an investment, or becoming a supporter, go to unltd.org.uk/bvc for more information.