What is the project?
The financial services firm Investec aims to make a measurable impact in three areas: education, the environment and entrepreneurship. In 2008, Investec employees chose the Bromley by Bow Centre as a London office partner, with the goal of helping the charity create a cohesive, healthy, successful and vibrant community. Since 2011 Investec has been the sole funder, keeping the centre’s Beyond Business social enterprise incubator up and running. Beyond Business provides business planning advice and other support to local entrepreneurs, and offers a select few capital of £17,000 and more intensive support.
How is the company involved?
Despite the two senior ambassadors for the programme leaving Investec, Beyond Business has secured visible and active support at chief executive and board level. Investec staff, including the head of Investec’s Private Bank, sit on a Dragons' Den-style panel, which selects the entrepreneurs who will receive funding. Volunteers from across Investec provide training and give successful entrepreneurs access to expert advice on areas such as organisational development, IT, legal, human resources, business development and marketing. Investec also hosts an online LinkedIn forum to strengthen networks between Beyond Business alumni and volunteers.
What has it achieved?
Investec’s support has enabled the programme to expand beyond Tower Hamlets into the neighbouring east London boroughs of Hackney and Newham. Ninety per cent of the businesses launched have continued to trade beyond their third years, way above the national average of about 50 per cent. Beyond Business has set up 67 new social enterprises, which between them generate an annual turnover of more than £5m, and created more than 350 jobs in east London.
What did the judges say?
"A great partnership example for other hubs, especially when located in disadvantaged areas," said Aoine Wilson, freelance fundraising and sponsorship consultant.