Yorkshire Venture Philanthropy Investment Launch at Salem Chapel: A New Generation of Social Enterprise

This week, aql’s Salem Chapel events space hosted The Yorkshire Venture Philanthropy (YVP) Investment Launch. The Dragon’s Den style event showcased the emergence of a new generation of social enterprise that is commercially aware and ambitious.

In recent years, social enterprise grew 58% compared to 28% of SMEs*. YVP is a new initiative that aims to encourage the growth in the social enterprise sector across Yorkshire. YVP is managed by the Leeds Community Foundation, a jointly delivered by community foundations from South Yorkshire and Calderdale.

The evening was compered by former Yorkshire Post Business Editor and founder of thebusinessdesk.com, David Parkin. It opened with an impassioned keynote speech from Sir Tim Smit KBE, founder and Chief Executive of the Eden Project. Sir Tim’s involvement in social enterprise and the voluntary sector has left him well placed to inspire the evening’s hopefuls, it is estimated that the Eden Project has contributed over a billion to the Cornish economy and he advocated commercial values within social enterprise. Sir Tim went onto describe the 3rd sector as ‘the most important sector for an emerging economy’.

The ‘dragons’ were; best selling author and entrepreneur, Deirde Bounds, CEO of waste and recycling container firm Straight PLC, Jonathan Straight and the Chairman of the Endless venture capitalist and Finance Yorkshire member, Peter Yendell.

The Big Ideas

First to pitch to the expert panel were Seagulls Re-use Ltd, a paint recycling company that re-mixes leftover paint for re-sale to people on low incomes. Having featured on both Secret Millionaire and Super Scrimpers, their low cost recycled paint sells from as little as £3.75 per tin. They were seeking finance to expand their operation into new premises and purchase new equipment.

Second up to face the dragons was Friends of Bramley Baths, the community group re-opened the baths in January 2013 after it had been closed in 2010 due to local council budget cuts. The elegant building dates back to 1904 and is situated in a deprived area of Leeds. The baths are a community focal point and provide swimming lessons to 13 schools in the area. They were looking to build upon their commercial success and diversify into other areas of fitness starting with a spinning studio.

Finally, Enabled Works pitched to the dragons. Former employees of the government run Remploy disability and employment service established the workers co-op following Remploy’s loss of funding in 2011. They have embraced a commercial ethos that they felt was constrained under government funding and were looking for to automate one of their production lines, allowing them to increase their workload and freeing up workers for other areas.

After a close SMS vote, the winner was announced as Enabled Works who will receive the top prize of £6,000 with Seagulls and Bramley Baths each receiving £2,000. The evening’s beneficiaries add to a list of 40+ organisations to which YVP have donated over £300,000 in the last 16 months.
CEO of aql, Adam Beaumont said: ‘It has been a fantastic evening hearing such inspirational stories from everyone involved. We wish all the enterprises the best of luck as they continue to build upon their successes’.

To learn more about Yorkshire Venture Philanthropy or to become an investor, visit www.yvpp.org.uk.

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