Meet the local business pioneers awarded council funding boost

5 July 2023

Last year Southwark Council launched the Southwark Pioneers Fund, a new programme of support for people looking to start up or grow their business in the borough. Since the launch, 101 local entrepreneurs have been supported, and 11 local businesses have been awarded grants totalling more than £50k.

The Southwark Pioneers Fund is part of the council's action plan to champion local businesses, including people just starting out or from underrepresented groups. This push will help promote growth in the borough and boost the local economy.

The council has teamed up with their business support partners Trampoline and Hatch Enterprise to help local entrepreneurs and enterprises who wanted to take their business to the next level. All participants have access to support across areas of marketing, sales, pitching, finance, leadership, business management and more.

In addition to advice and guidance, businesses are able to apply for grants to invest in their business. Over £50,000 has now been awarded in grants. This includes grants secured by Selfmade Candle which sells natural soy wax candles and candle-making kits, and Maci’s Authentic Rum Cakes which makes cakes for all occasions and events, as well as trading at Southwark markets.

Marcia Legister, founder of Maci’s Authentic Rum Cakes, said: “The Southwark Pioneers Fund has helped propel us into an exciting, new and positive phase of growth. Our grant will go towards buying a food trailer and converting to green packaging, helping us become more eco-friendly and reach more people within the local and surrounding communities.

“I am so grateful for being selected to take part in what I personally deem as a small lifeline for anyone who is either new to business or well established. Through the Southwark Pioneers Fund, I now want to create a positive impact in Southwark by developing an apprenticeship programme for young school leavers to offer on the job training within the retail catering sector.”

Ricki Lawal, founder of Selfmade Candle, said: "The grant we will receive as part of the Southwark Pioneers Fund is going to be transformative. It provides the necessary resources to fuel our growth, expand our reach, and make a substantial impact in our industry. With it we'll be able to produce more sustainable products, hire local people to join our team and grow our business. This financial support not only validates the potential of our business but also enables us to execute strategic initiatives and scale our operations, creating a ripple effect of positive.”

Cllr Martin Seaton, Cabinet Member for Jobs, Business & Town Centres, said: “In the challenging economic environment, it’s more important than ever that the council is on the side of our diverse local businesses. Our ambition is to build a greener, more resilient and fairer economy with good work opportunities for all. Our Southwark Pioneers Fund is another example of making that ambition real.

“I was delighted to meet the first cohort of local businesses to secure grants through our Southwark Pioneers Fund. Together they represent what the fund is all about: ambitious and diverse local talent looking to scale up their business with proper hands-on support. I’m really looking forward to seeing them go from strength to strength as part of a thriving local economy.”

Jade Baker, Co-Head of Programmes at Hatch Enterprise, said: “It has been inspiring to learn more about the amazing businesses operating in Southwark through this programme and a privilege to see the cohort grow and develop across the course of the Southwark Pioneers Fund: Grow Your Enterprise programme.

“At Hatch, we are passionate about providing opportunities to organisations having a real impact in their communities, and I know that the funding awarded will have a tangible impact on what these founders are able to achieve through their businesses. We are so pleased to be able to partner with Southwark Council on this initiative, and look forward to continuing to support founders in the borough to thrive.”

Claudine Bongo, Executive Director Founder of Trampoline, said: “We’ve had a wonderful time working with our first group of start-ups for the Southwark Pioneers Fund: Launchpad programme. Over the past nine months, we’ve seen them become more confident, focused, motivated, and savvy as they gained new business skills, knowledge, and acumen. During that time, most of our start-ups developed strong foundations for their businesses, learned to run efficient and ethical business models, and made full use of trading and networking opportunities offered to them.

“Those who were able to secure a grant have a real opportunity to scale up their business and create positive impacts on their life and their community. As the programme’s online registration process reopens in September 2023, we look forward to welcoming more residents and start-ups to work with in our second year of delivering the Southwark Pioneers Fund: Launchpad programme.”

All grant awardees under Southwark Pioneers Fund’s Grow Your Enterprise programme in partnership with Hatch:

  • Selfmade Candle: natural soy wax candles and candle making kits
  • Spark the Difference: supporting decision makers to understand, and act, on what matters to people who give and receive care
  • Minority Report: increasing diversity within the fashion industry by championing existing talent and nurturing future fashion stars
  • Independent Label Market: bringing together the founders of independent record labels on both sides of the Atlantic to sell their fresh vinyl produce directly to the public

All grant awardees under Southwark Pioneers Fund’s Launchpad programme in partnership with Trampoline:

Page last updated: 05 July 2023

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