Three founders who are breaking the mould and building brilliant businesses

Chuku's founders
Virgin Galactic
Richard Branson's signature
Published on 17 November 2023

For Global Entrepreneurship Week this year, Virgin StartUp has shined a light on some brilliant founders who have overcome a disproportionate number of challenges to build some brilliant businesses. With support from Virgin StartUp, these businesses are thriving, driven by purpose, and deserve their moment in the spotlight. Here’s a closer look.


Andrew (Ando) Eniwumide is the dyslexic founder of Happaning – a soon-to-launch app that lets you experience or preview an event with real-time videos from people at the venue, so you know what to expect.

Like me, Ando calls dyslexia his superpower:

I think that anybody who has dyslexia knows that it's actually a superpower. It allows you to look at things differently.

It’s remarkable that more than a quarter of founders are said to be neurodiverse or living with a disability. Sadly though, 56% of founders interviewed in the Disability and Entrepreneurship Report encountered no external support when launching their businesses, and 84% of founders with a disability feel they can’t access to the same opportunities and resources as their counterparts. This is why Virgin StartUp’s commitment to levelling the playing field for all founders is so important.

Virgin StartUp
Virgin StartUp

One example of Virgin StartUp’s commitment is the Empower100 programme, which was created to support founders living with a disability; Black, Asian and minority ethnic founders; and women founders, to help unlock their potential for growth and investment. If you’re interested, applications for the next programme (Jan 24-March 14) close on January 10.

Chuku’s – Nigerian Tapas Restaurant

Siblings Emeka Frederick and Ifeyinwa Frederick used a StartUp Loan from Virgin StartUp to open London’s first Nigerian tapas restaurant called Chuku’s. Emeka and Ifeyinwa are moving from strength to strength by expanding the business into corporate catering, brunch clubs, supper clubs and live events.

However, Black, Asian and minority ethnic founders face disproportionate challenges when starting out. In fact, just 0.24% of venture capital funding in the UK went to Black founders in the past decade, and Black female founders received just 0.02% of it. This is why projects like Virgin StartUp’s Empower100 programme, and Virgin Unite’s Founders Unite initiative are so critical.


Nana’s Chutney

I always love learning about family businesses. Nana’s Chutneys was founded by Kanal Navanti and his mother, lovingly known as Nana, with support from Virgin StartUp’s Empower100 Programme.

At 68-years-old, Nana is showing that entrepreneurship knows no age limits. As Nana said herself: “I realised I was not old, and indeed it was worth it. My dream followed me and was embellished by my life experience. You can do anything at any age. I found that life truly begins at the end of your comfort zone.” Well said, Nana.

VIrgin StartUp
VIrgin StartUp

It’s important to challenge the idea that you have to be young to become an entrepreneur. In fact, research by Age UK found that more than 70% of businesses started by people over 55-years-old last longer than five years, which compares to 40% across all age groups.