Empowering the next generation of business founders

by Kate Cashmore
2 May 2024

Virgin StartUp has announced the latest list of business founders to join its fully-funded accelerator programme, Empower 100.

Empower 100 launched last year with funding support from the UK’s Shared Prosperity Fund. The London-based programme aims to help founders unlock the next stage of growth for their startup through a series of workshops, networking, training, peer-to-peer support and pitch events. The programme is designed specifically for Black, Asian and minority ethnic founders, women founders and founders with a disability. 

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

25 founders have joined the latest 8-week programme spanning a range of business sectors including social enterprise, health, interiors, fashion, food and drink, leisure, AI, e-commerce and business services.  

Speaking about securing a place on the programme, Pankaj Kale, CEO and Founder of AnyFeast, which offers customisable meal kits, powered by AI-generated recipe recommendations which uses locally available authentic ingredients, comments:

We're excited about the opportunity to connect with fellow entrepreneurs and leverage valuable resources to enhance our business's scalability. At present, we're in the process of raising our pre-seed round of investment and we believe that the support provided by Virgin StartUp’s Empower 100 programme will greatly contribute to our success.

Joey Li, CEO & Co-Founder of the Leiho, a social enterprise which funds impact projects through the sale of everyday essentials, explains “We're eager to boost our confidence in investor interactions and enhance our leadership skills. Our mission as social entrepreneurs is to empower and inspire future generations, especially ethnic-minority and South East Asian aspiring young entrepreneurs. Through this programme, we aim to strengthen our resilience and leadership whilst challenging disparities in UK funding.” 

A selection of the other businesses on the latest Empower 100 cohort include: 

Air Zones 

Air Zones is a business on a mission to save lives by analysing and rating the health of buildings based on indoor air quality; working with organisations to make indoor air cleaner and safer.  

Chapter London 

Chapter London is fashion brand offering colourful and stylish sustainable womenswear that’s designed and made in the UK.  


BabyLikes makes a wide range of halal organic baby food, as well as running an online community to support Muslim parents in providing their babies halal and nutritious food. 


Gaston creates AI generated food and ingredient recommendations that are based on users' biological and genomic profiles for boosting health and longevity. 

Visit Virgin StartUp to learn how the team can help you start, fund, and grow your business.