Big Issue Invest

CSV 2014 Investee Swarm Apprentice Receive £10,000 Catalyst Award from RSA

Wymondham based social enterprise Swarm has been awarded the inaugural £10,000 Catalyst scaling grant by the RSA to support its expansion from Norfolk into Suffolk and Essex.  The grant will fund events in Norwich, Ipswich and Colchester at which business owners, RSA Fellows and local young people will explore together how Swarm’s enterprise training can profitably connect them together.

Already established in Norfolk, Swarm provides enterprise qualifications and training to businesses and the apprentices they recruit. ‘We match young people with attitude with business owners with aspiration,’ explained Swarm founder and RSA Fellow Robert Ashton, ‘then use enterprise training, mentoring and sometimes even business support to help them succeed together.’

The London based RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce) was established more than 250 years ago to ‘enrich society through ideas and action’ and has three key themes; public service & communities; creating learning & development and the economy, enterprise and manufacturing. Louise Drake, Project Engagement Manager for The RSA said ‘Catalyst has been one of our most successful initiatives and we have been really pleased with the way that it has taken root in the Fellowship. SWARM is a fantastic example of how the RSA can support real world change, by working with Fellows, supporting them with Catalyst funding but equally as important, connecting them with the RSA Fellows network and wider RSA research and ideas.

Commenting on the announcement, RSA East of England Chair Malcolm Noble said: ‘We have more than 2,000 Fellows in the region. All take a keen interest in our changing world and will recognise the way Swarm blends enterprise and education. We look forward to playing an active role in Swarm’s continued growth.’

The experience of Swarm Apprentice Alice Henderson illustrates well how Swarm can transform lives. Working part time, she applied for a Swarm vacancy with Freebridge Community Housing  in Kings Lynn. Now she has completed her qualification and works as executive assistant to Robert Clarke, Housing Director and was recently shortlisted for a national enterprise award.’

Robert Clarke commented that; ‘having Alice as an apprentice has had a significant impact on our work at Freebridge, in particular around their community engagement work and we’re delighted with her progress.’

‘My training included a community engagement project that enabled me to deliver a measurable return on investment to my employer’, commented Alice. ‘That gave both my confidence and career a huge boost!’

CSV 2015 – The Official Kick Off 

CSV2015 Mentor Matching Day CSV2015 Mentor Matching Day_2

CSV 2015 launched into gear this month with an event hosted by lead partner on the programme, Barclays at their offices in Northampton.  Just over 60 delegates attended the event consisting of mentors and representatives from the social businesses who were selcted to join this year’s programme.  The event is a pivotal one on the programme as it is in most cases the first time when mentors and mentees meet each other face to face.  The first half of the event consisted of an overarching look at the CSV progamme.  Digital Mums, who successfully secured investment on CSV 2014 told their story alongside mentor Tracy Balachandran giving the crowd an in-depth view of the CSV experience and how leveraging it can have an invaluable impact for social businesses.  Dr Richard Hazenberg from the University of Northampton introduced their social impact measurement framework which each business will work on with him throughout the programme.   Claire Fourel from Ashurst, a support partner of the programme also spoke to attendees about the resources they can offer to social businesses who become part of CSV.  Overall the event was deemed a success.  Tracey O’Keefe of Hospice Quality Partnership, one of this year’s social businesses remarked, ‘Thank you for today – it was really well organised, interesting and exciting to gain a better understanding of the programme and all of the amazing skills it can offer.  I feel really privileged to be part of it’.

You can find more information on the social businesses that make up CSV 2015 here.

In addition, Rachel Durham, Operations Manager at the Procurement Hub at Places for People will be blogging about her experience of being a CSV mentor, get the first installment here.

Big Issue Invest CSV Arrives in Scotland

Pile of stones generic


Big Issue Invest are working in partnership with Life Changes Trust, a charity that works to improve the lives of young people who have had experience of the care system and people affected by dementia to roll out the Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) programme in Scotland.  The programme launches today (June 30) and ideas are being sought from any social businesses who have creative concepts for new ventures that would impact positively on one or both of the aforementioned groups.

Similarly to CSV England the programme offers a combination of investment and business support from corporate partners to the successful applicants with the main objective being to develop sustainable businesses that tackle some of society’s biggest challenges.

Alongside Big Issue Invest this initiative is being supported by SCDI (Scottish Council for Development and Industry) and several other corporate partners who will provide mentoring and business advice, and who will have the opportunity to invest in unique and innovative businesses that can deliver not just financial returns, but sustainable social good.

The corporate partners supporting this initiative in Scotland are: Mitie, Barclays and Places for People Scotland Care & Support.  Other corporate partners are being recruited.

Maddy Halliday, Chief Executive of Life Changes Trust, said,

‘The Life Changes Trust has a mission to drive transformational improvements in the quality of life, empowerment and inclusion of two groups in Scotland – people affected by dementia, which also includes unpaid carers, and young people who have experience of the care system.  CSV Scotland is an exciting opportunity for the Trust to invest in new businesses who are going to use their skills, expertise and imagination to deliver improved quality of life for our beneficiary groups.  We are delighted to be working with Big Issue Invest, SCDI and our corporate partners to bring this exciting initiative to Scotland.’

John Montague, Director of Early Stage Business at Big Issue Invest said,

‘We are proud to partner with the Life Changes Trust on CSV Scotland.  It is exciting to branch into new territory with the programme, both in terms of region and sector.  Our method of pairing early stage social businesses with corporate mentors who assist them with business planning, finances and pitching for investment is a proven way of creating a sustainable social impact.  We are very much looking forward to seeing similar results in Scotland with the Trust who have done some outstanding work with care experienced young people and those affected by dementia’.

Further detail and information on how to apply can be found here.

Two CSV Scotland briefing events are also being held for anyone who wishes to know more and who may be interested in applying, please see dates and locations below.

  • 7th July in Glasgow, 1-4 pm
  • 13th July in Perth, 1-4pm

Places can be reserved now by emailing [email protected]
If you have any media queries, please contact [email protected] or on 0141 212 9606

Big Issue Invest CSV Featured in The Big Issue

June 2015_The Big Issue Experian Barclays


Big Issue Invest CSV was covered in The Big Issue recently.  The piece focused around the value that both corporate partners and social businesses gain from being part of the programme.

Read the full article here.




A Few Words from The Big Issue Foundation on their Upcoming London to Amsterdam Bike Ride Challenge

The Big Issue Foundation work exclusively with Big Issue Sellers.  They provide vendors with bespoke support to help them address the issues that may have contributed to their housing insecurity, or the issues that have arisen as a result.

If you’re thinking about getting a challenge to train for this year, then our London to Amsterdam ride could well be it!

We’re offering half price registration for the event, until Sunday 31st May. If it’s something you’d enjoy then now is the time! Sign up to join us and enjoy the £50 saving, why delay?!

Our London to Amsterdam ride is going to be great fun as well as a great challenge.  We’ll be cycling with professional cycle guides who’ll split the group according to abilities.  That means there will be riding at a speed to suit everyone, and the whole group will enjoy their evening rest time together.

The trip will leave London’s Olympic Park early on Saturday 19th September.  There’ll be approximately 75 miles of cycling on both the Saturday and Sunday before we arrive in Amsterdam that evening.  We’ll celebrate our achievement at a team meal, then you’ll have time to see some of the city’s sights before we leave for our journey home around lunchtime on Monday. We’ll be getting trains for the return journey, your legs will have earned the break! Mixing exercise with sightseeing really is a brilliant combination, and so if you’d like to stay on in Amsterdam that can be arranged!

The Big Issue Foundation have held a London to Paris event for the last 8 years, and we’re delighted to be offering the alternative of cycling to Amsterdam this year. We hope it will be a great new challenge for those who have cycled from London to Paris before, as well as a fantastic event for anyone looking for a fun cycling trip! Within those 3 days away you’ll be cramming in the fitness challenge alongside the social and sight seeing sides too, and you’ll only have to take one day from the working week to do it!

With September getting closer we’d love you to sign up now to join our team, giving yourself lots of time to put in your training over the summer months and take your time to raise the £1,100 required too.  With our support that will seem like the easiest part of the challenge we assure you!

The half price registration fee offer will finish on 31st May so do sign up now, you could put the £50 you’ll save towards some new cycling gear for the trip!

For more information visit or call Justine on 020 7526 3459.

Big Issue Invest Tech for Good Winner Receives PM’s Point of Light Award 

A London doctor who established an organisation to help young people to volunteer using their professional skills in 2015 has been named a Point of Light by Prime Minister David Cameron.


Dr Na’eem Ahmed set up the Selfless charity, an online volunteering website to promote ‘skillanthropy’, encouraging young people to use their skills to give something back to society, both in the UK and overseas.


Selfless received investment and mentoring through Big Issue Invest’s Tech for Good challenge.  The programme targeted social businesses using disruptive technology to support young people to develop their lives and find employment and career opportunities.  The current programme is entitled Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) and will be accepting applications from early stage social business from April onwards

John-Paul Preston from LDC being appreciated by his mentee Naeem Ahmed from Selfless

Na’eem founder of Selfless with his Tech for Good Mentor John Paul Preston from LDC

Dr Ahmed, who lives in Wandsworth, is the latest recipient of a Point of Light award, which recognises outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others. Each day, someone, somewhere in the country is selected to receive the award to celebrate their remarkable achievements.


Over 1,000 volunteers have now registered with the Selfless website registering their skills you have, the languages they speak and their location. The site, which has a special focus on healthcare volunteering, matches individuals with volunteering opportunities that will suit them.


Na’eem first got a taste for volunteering after securing a place at medical school. He established a network of student health ambassadors to carry out health education projects across London communities, having recognised that the diverse backgrounds of  his fellow medical undergraduates meant the network could reach every community. The health ambassadors are still going strong and are now funded by the Mayor of London’s Team London.


Na’eem went on to create an international volunteering project, ‘Elective Aid’, which provides medical students with an opportunity to deliver medical aid to rural Bangladeshi inhabitants through ‘health camps’. Since its inception, the project has enabled over 10,000 Bangladeshi villagers to receive free medical attention.


Dr Ahmed is the 189th winner of the new Points of Light award, which has been developed in partnership with the hugely successful Points of Light programme in the USA and was first established by President George H. W. Bush. Over 5,000 US Points of Light have been awarded and both President George H. W. Bush and President Barack Obama have publicly supported the partnership with Points of Light UK which honours shining examples of volunteering across the country.


Regardless of whether it’s a doctor restoring local monuments in her free time, a father teaching young people life skills, or a local musician giving a voice to lonely people, the Point of Light award honours shining examples of volunteering across the UK.


Prime Minister David Cameron said:


“Volunteering is a popular New Year’s resolution and using your professional skills is a great way to make a contribution. Dr Ahmed is a fantastic example of what a difference one person can make and, by setting up the Selfless website, he’s making it really easy for other people to find opportunities to get involved too. I am delighted to make Na’eem a Point of Light this New Year’s Day.”


Dr Ahmed said:


“I feel incredibly fortunate to have achieved these positions and to be in a profession where I can lead change and improvement to communities that are in need. The driving force behind my work has been my father, who immigrated to England as a young boy from Bangladesh, he reminded us of our responsibility to help others and to always remain grateful. My achievements are not unique, this award is dedicated to the many hard-working parents whose efforts have given their children the opportunity to flourish and give back to society. It is the Selfless cycle of change!”


To be matched to volunteering opportunities with Selfless visit:




Notes to Editors


  1. The Points of Light awards recognise outstanding individual volunteers, people who are making a change in their community and inspiring others.
  2. The Prime Minister makes daily announcements of the winners to celebrate, encourage and promote volunteering and the value that it brings to the country.
  3. Groups and organisations that are demonstrating the Big Society in their work or activities will continue to be recognised by the Prime Minister through the Big Society awards.
  4. If people want to nominate a Point of Light they can do so by writing to the Prime Minister

CSV 2014 Success Stories Covered in The Big Issue


Not one but two pages have been dedicated to the CSV 2014 success stories in this week’s Big Issue (December, 1st)  Delve into the journey that experienced, corporate mentors and early stage social ventures went on and the amazing developments that ensued, all in the name of creating opportunities for some of the most disadvantaged people in society – CSV 2014 Winners The Big Issue Article.

The Big Issue aims to provide ANYONE whose life is blighted by poverty with the opportunity to earn a LEGITIMATE income.  So, if you like our taster go get yourself to your nearest Big Issue vendor for a copy packed with more great features and content.

CSV 2014 Challenge Winners Announced

Talentino Olympic Web

A group from Talentino (one of the winning CSV 2014 social businesses)

Photo credit: Trudi Fisher Green Fish Photography 

 Big Issue Invest is delighted to announce the 12 winners of the Corporate Social Venturing (CSV) Challenge.

This remarkable group of early-stage social ventures demonstrate a relentless passion and determination to create a profound social impact in the following areas:  educational opportunities, regional job creation, training and work placement for disadvantaged groups and health.  The investment along with continued guidance from corporate mentors, will take the working visions of this inspiring group from the early stages to the next level of business, in turn allowing them to transform even more lives across the country.

James Fairweather, CEO of Big Issue Invest, remarked: ‘The CSV Programme proves that corporate partners have a significant role to play in the development of early stage social businesses. The finale event showcased a breadth of amazing and varied social businesses from artisan craft producers Hereford Make CIC working to increase rural employment opportunities to Circle Sports training young disadvantaged people in London, providing them with work placements in the creative industries.  The enthusiasm and drive of these entrepreneurs coupled with the guidance and expertise of their corporate mentors has made this CSV Challenge a resounding success.’

Over 200 applications were received since the CSV Challenge began earlier this year.  Successful applicants were paired with mentors and received the opportunity to pitch for a £50,000 investment from the programme, funded by corporate partners Barclays, Experian, First Ark, Fusion 21, University of Northampton and Places for People with backing from the Social Incubator Fund (Cabinet Office).  Barclays acts as lead corporate partner for the CSV programme as part of their 5 Million Young Futures ambition.

The 12 successful ventures were chosen by an expert judging panel from a short-list of 15 who were invited to take part in the Caterpillars’ Cocoon event – a two-day pitching session held in Nottingham during  October.  The ventures that have received investment and ongoing support are:  Ayudante,  advant~age , Circle Sports, Digital Mums, Hereford CIC, House of St Barnabas, Mum’s the Chef, Now Press Play, ParentHub, SXT Health, Swarm Apprenticeships and Talentino.

Due to the high quality of the finalists, partners will continue to work with some ventures who did not receive investment at this time.

Kathleen Britain, Head of UK Community Investment at Barclays, said: ‘Our partnership with Big Issue Invest is an important part of Barclays’ broader commitment to impact five million young futures by 2015.  This programme will see Barclays invest not only money, but colleagues’ time and expertise in helping social enterprises develop and grow, many of which will support young people in disadvantaged communities.  The CSV Programme will support a talented pool of people in developing the skills they need to fulfil their potential while adding real and significant value to society.’

The programme is partially funded by the Cabinet Office’s Social Incubator Fund (delivered by the Big Lottery Fund) in conjunction with Barclays, Experian, First Ark, Fusion 21, University of Northampton and Places for People through a partnership funding model.   Ashurst LLP is a supporting partner who provides legal guidance to ventures.  Inspire to Enterprise also supports the challenge by providing corporate mentoring to some participating social ventures.  The University of Northampton evaluates the programme as a whole and assists participants with devising a strategy to measure their social impact.

The next round of CSV will be launching in the New Year.  Please visit the website  for further details about the programme or follow @BII_CSV on twitter for news and updates.


Notes to Editors

About Big Issue Invest Big Issue Invest is the social investment arm of The Big Issue, helping prevent poverty and inequality by backing sustainable social enterprises, charities and ventures. It is a specialist provider of finance to social enterprises led by social entrepreneurs and staffed by social financiers. Since 2005 BII has invested £25m in more than 310 social enterprises, directly benefitting over 1.8m people, sustainably employing 3,200 and training 14,000. Big Issue Invest understands how to develop innovative finance – helping social enterprises to tackle poverty and inequality.

BII is born out of a social enterprise itself and is led by social entrepreneurs and experienced social financiers who have first-hand experience of setting-up and running profitable social enterprises in both good and difficult times.

Contact: Kate Madders Telephone: 0207 526 3432

Email: [email protected]


The Successful Ventures

Ayudante –

Advant~age –

Circle Sports –

Digital Mums –

Hereford CIC –

House of St Barnabas –

Mum’s the Chef –

Now Press Play –

ParentHub –

SXT Health –

Swarm Apprentice –

Talentino –


Funded by
Cabinet Office
Delivered by
Big Fund
Investment partners
Fusion 21
University of Northampton
Places for People

Join our next challenge

Support partners
Inpire to Enterprise