Virgin Unite announces finalists for Founders Unite Award

Virgin Unite
Virgin Unite
Natalie Clarkson
by Natalie Clarkson
3 April 2023

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 worlds.  

Despite the good that these businesses are doing – promoting integration, challenging perceptions, breaking down social barriers and contributing to an inclusive economy – their founders face significant additional hurdles when it comes to achieving business success. 

For members of Black, Asian and other ethnic minority communities, it is more difficult to start or grow a new business than for their white counterparts. Research shows that in the 10 years to 2019, only 0.24% of the total venture capital funding invested in UK start-ups went to Black entrepreneurs. 

Virgin Unite launched the Founders Unite Award at the end of 2022 to find organisations working to tackle the systemic, entrenched barriers facing these communities. After a hotly contested judging process, chaired by Virgin Unite Trustee Nathalie Richards, Virgin Unite has now named the three finalists for its first ever Founders Unite Award: 

  • 1,000 Voices – a podcast on a mission to interview 1,000 black British changemakers. Their goal is to empower a generation of black British changemakers and to eradicate racial wealth inequalities.   

  • Ultra Education CIC – one of the UK’s leading providers of entrepreneurial education in schools and clubs. They believe that all children and young people regardless of background or social standing should have access to essential entrepreneurial education. 

  • Foundervine a social enterprise specialising in start-up and scale-up acceleration programmes. Since launching in 2018, Foundervine has helped over 2,000 future leaders create, test, sustain and develop entrepreneurial ventures. 

All three finalists have been working with Sudha Kheterpal, aka The Pitch Coach, to finesse a three-minute presentation. They'll make these presentations at the Founders Unite Roundtable in April 2023 before the Award winner is selected by attendees, including Holly Branson and Karl Lokko. The winning organisation will receive a package of support from Virgin Unite to help further their work in levelling the odds for Black, Asian and other minority ethnic entrepreneurs.