As we observe in Dragons Den, the process of pitching a business idea before a panel of judges is daunting, to say the least. A stage sweat, worsened by the overhead lights, and the loud sound of expectation and applause are enough to send most people home.
The impact field is often regarded as difficult to quantify, qualify, and monetise. Yet as more social enterprises and other purpose-driven businesses continue to emerge and shine, the fact of impact’s real success is becoming impossible to ignore. There may be specific learnings that corporate leaders can glean from the experiences of founders in the impact space.
When did you join Allia?
June 2019, almost 2.5 years ago
Has your role changed since you started here – and in what way?
I started as an Assistant Facilities Manager and was promoted to Facilities Manager within my first year.
The last 18 months have caused a new kind of anxiety for small business and start-up founders. One of the key things we’ve been hearing about is a lack of engagement outside their founder ‘bubbles’. People haven’t been networking; they haven’t been chatting over coffee or meeting at the water cooler and thus have missed the opportunity to meet new contacts.
We’re busy at Allia Future Business Centres with lots of recruitment for our business support programmes across all locations!
Our free business support programmes started running in 2013 and are now delivered across East London, Peterborough and Cambridge. Our programmes are designed to help entrepreneurs get their ideas off the ground, help small businesses and start-ups to grow and scale, and help ventures to create positive impact in social and environmental innovation.
At Allia, we have been working with impact ventures for many years (70+ ventures and over £90 million raised by alumni). Yet we are still iterating on how we can make the Impact Accelerator more and more relevant to founders and the ecosystem as a whole.
Allia C&C – an expert in socially responsible finance – has joined forces with the Impact Investing Institute, Big Society Capital and Social Enterprise UK to lobby for the threshold for Retail Charity Bonds (RCB) to be lowered to allow more charity borrowers access to this type of funding.
Given the year we’ve just had, it’s understandable to reflect on how far-reaching the economic effects of Covid-19 and lockdown will be, particularly on business and employment. Yet despite that fact, as a Peterborough native, I’m pleased to report the fiery entrepreneurial spirit of the people of Peterborough is burning brightly, with record numbers of business registrations in the last year.
As we start to see lockdown restrictions gradually lifted in the UK, much debate is being had about the big return to the office. It seems like a very long year ago that most of us office-workers had to leave our desks and work from home due to the Covid-19 crisis – and the experience has altered our lives and dominated our news feeds ever since.
As applications open for our new Ideation and Validation programme that will run for 2 months from our centre in Peterborough, we speak to Emma Mee, Programme Manager, about the programme, who it can help and how it can identify if a business idea can be turned into reality.