Inspiring Hackney evening a boost for social entrepreneurs

Speak Street took part in Dream Act Inspire and gave away linguistic lollipops, which included words that exist in other languages but do not exist in English

Speak Street gave away linguistic lollipops, which included words that exist in other languages but do not exist in English

The brightest business minds flocked to Hackney this week to find new ways to help young entrepreneurs get started.

RichMix played host to Dream, Act, Inspire, an evening organised by UnLtd and Hackney Connect to raise awareness about the support available to young, local, budding entrepreneurs, who want to start sustainable business ventures that can make a positive social change to their area.

Previous recipients of the UnLtd grants, showcased their work, and demonstrated what can be achieved with the funding and support that is available. The organisers of the event encouraged those passionate about creating opportunities for young people in the local area, to come along and network with like-minded people.

Hackney Connect, has partnered with UBS in order to fund 44 social entrepreneurs. Their focus is to support individuals who have business ventures, which can drive positive social change in Hackney. Successful recipients, will receive a grant from £5,000 – £15,000, access to on-going advice, networking and practical support.

The partnership with UBS not only provides funding but also gives vital support to award winners. Sarah Craner, UBS Director, Corporate Responsibility and Community Affairs said that the partnership enables employees to give their time and invaluable skills to support young people who can make a sustainable social impact. UBS mentors are assigned based on the social entrepreneurs’ particular needs.

Miles Thorpe, founder of OT Earners, introduced the event and recounted his journey since leaving school at 17, to start off in office supplies sales. He said he was “frustrated that young people didn’t know how to express themselves effectively in the job market”. That is why OT Earners was born, a recruitment company that provides free training days, organises interviews and helps young people find jobs in sales.

The event also offered a great opportunity to network and get to know the story behind the start-ups. A previous award winner, Sam Naef, a physics graduate, inspired by his love of tutoring, created iSKILLu. It is an online portal where people can teach and learn from each other, using credits instead of money to pay.

Joanna Bevan, creator of Speak Street, a pop up language café, said that her UBS mentor offered “fantastic advice and support regarding finances and her business plan”, during talks twice a month. The café provides English, Spanish and French classes, and is aiming to expand into providing corporate language learning opportunities.

Sheromie Brewster, Cage Cricket co-ordinator, who won an award in 2008 said that UnLtd and Hackney Connect were providing opportunities for young people in the local area that can really make a change.

Zain Miah, of UnLtd, organiser of the event, reminded attendees that there were still 25 awards available and applications are being accepted until the first week of January 2016. He added, “we have workshops available for those who want to start their support journey with us.

All workshops are to be held at UnLtd, 123 Whitecross Street, London, EC18 8JJ. There’s no need to sign up, you can just turn up or email for more information.”

Workshop Dates are as follows:

8 December at 5pm

15, 16 and 17 December at 6pm

More information about the grants here:


Follow Harriet Edwards on Twitter: @EdwardshHarriet

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