Finalist category: Tech4Good Diversity Award


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Finalist, Tech4Good Diversity Award, 2019

Foundervine is a social enterprise founded by technologists and professionals who believe in a fairer tech industry. Frustrated by a lack of diversity, they are on a mission to build one of the most inclusive tech communities in the world. By building pop-up entrepreneurship labs all over the UK, they seek to change the lives of young people from low-income backgrounds.

Foundervine deliver a high-impact, immersive entrepreneurship lab called Startup 54, so called because of it’s simple model – 60 participants, 54-hours to build a startup. Since starting in 2018, 24 women and minority-led start ups have been created through the programme. In addition, a total of 600 18-30 year olds have been supported to build the business skills needed for tomorrow’s economy through partnerships, events and workshops. They work closely with local communities and have built an online community of over 3,000 people in the last 18 months, working with corporate partners to deliver their programmes and raise funding.

Foundervine’s programmes address the social and economic inequality that’s faced by women, ethnic minorities and young adults (18-30) from disadvantaged backgrounds when starting a business. Evidence demonstrates that BAME graduates earn on average 23.1% less than white graduates as well as suffering from higher levels of unemployment. Enterprise and entrepreneurship education has the scope to equip learners with crucial skills needed in today’s competitive labour market – a skill much needed in BAME communities where for example graduate employability remains comparatively low.

Often, challenges are not just skills-based, but also concern race discrimination, mental health, self-esteem, and lack of networks. These are challenges that frequently go unaddressed in mainstream start-up programmes which are narrowly focused on value creation. More than half of young people in prison are from a BAME background. Our founder’s personal story of two brothers going through the criminal justice system inspired a programme to transform futures through enterprise.  We know that good enterprise and digital skills development has the scope to equip learners with crucial skills needed in today’s competitive labour market. Startup 54 is therefore designed to focus not only on value creation, but on personal development, leadership, and community development.

In 2018/19 the organisation has:  directly supported over 370 young people from black and ethnic minority (BAME) communities in the UK,  co-designed initiatives with a broad range of organisations,  created more than 2,200 hours of volunteering through mentoring, speaking and project management opportunities to professionals in the Foundervine network.

Looking forward, the social enterprise has three core aims:

  • To help diverse entrepreneurs build start-ups from scratch.
  • To help diverse entrepreneurs achieve scale.
  • To make sure that the voices of diverse entrepreneurs are heard, valued and acted upon.

The founders feel that there is no one reason for the lack of diversity in tech. However, it’s key that as a society, we invest in enterprise education that can transform aspiration and attainment for young people within these communities. It is their mission to scale up to reach 1,000 young women and minority talent by the end of 2020.

In 2019/20, they plan to scale the Startup 54 programme across the UK, and launch The Vine Fellowship. The Vine Fellowship for Impact Entrepreneurship brings bright, young talent from disadvantaged communities across the UK and Africa to the US to accelerate social impact through tech. Working with partners to increase impact through tech working across all 17 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Current priorities are to build their community and secure the support that Foundervine needs to be sustainable.

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