Ultra Education named winner of Founders Unite Award
Ultra Education, one of the UK’s leading providers of entrepreneurial education for children and young people, has been named as the winner of Virgin Unite’s first ever Founders Unite Award – recognising the work that it is doing to tackle the systemic, entrenched barriers faced by founders from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities.
Virgin Unite launched the Founders Unite Award because Black and Asian founders, as well as those from other minority ethnic communities, face bigger challenges than their white counterparts when launching or growing a business. Research shows that in the 10 years to 2019, just 0.24% of the total venture capital funding invested in UK start-ups went to Black entrepreneurs.
This is in spite of the fact that businesses founded and run by entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and other minority ethnic communities provide outsized value to the UK – contributing £74 billion to the economy, creating millions of jobs and providing innovative products and services for communities all over the country and around the world.
At Virgin Unite’s Founders Unite roundtable event in London, the three shortlisted organisations – 1,000 Voices, Ultra Education, and Foundervine – each shared how they are levelling the playing field for underrepresented founders. Holly Branson, Chair of Virgin Unite, Karl Lokko, Founder of Black Seed, and Virgin Unite trustee Nathalie Richards hosted the conversations as attendees asked questions and discussed the challenges that underrepresented founders face. Attendees then voted for the organisation they thought most deserved to win the Founders Unite Award, with Ultra Education named as the winner.
Tevin Kittoe, founder of 1,000 Voices, moved the crowd with his mission to share the stories of 1,000 Black British changemakers, sharing his own experiences of racism and prejudice as a motivator to launch his platform. Julian Hall, founder of Ultra Education, shared the experience of showing children and young people the power of entrepreneurship through education, and the impact that has already had in so many lives. And Indie Gordon and Cecil Adjalo from Foundervine told the story of creating an ecosystem that supports underrepresented founders to get the help that they need to start and grow their businesses.
Each of the Founders Unite Award Finalist organisations will be awarded a grant by Virgin Unite, as well as in-kind support to amplify, scale or deepen the work they do.
As Holly Branson said: “We launched Founders Unite to highlight the uphill battles faced by Black, Asian and minority ethnic entrepreneurs and to recognise organisations who are challenging these barriers and paving the way for the next generation.
“It was so brilliant to meet the three finalists at the ceremony in a room full of passionate investors, entrepreneurs, CEOs, philanthropists, and allies. These are three businesses that are addressing inequalities that they also face themselves.”