October 11th, 2016

Youth enterprise to scale up further with help worth £300,000 from SBT

Thousands more young people will get to develop their skills for work and life as a result of new support for The Challenge, one of the country’s largest social enterprises, from Social Business Trust (SBT).

The package of hands-on business skills and expertise worth £300,000 will help The Challenge as it grows to work with up to 80,000 young people a year.

It includes business planning support from Thomson Reuters and legal advice from Clifford Chance, as well as further help from SBT’s other corporate partners.

Last week, nine Thomson Reuters business executives spent an intensive day with senior staff from The Challenge to review its market landscape.

The Challenge, whose mission is to build a more integrated society, has grown dramatically to work with 49,000 young people this year alone, compared to just 150 seven years ago. It is the largest provider of the National Citizen Service in the country.

Social Business Trust has already provided significant support for The Challenge, valued at over £2 million: Bain & Company developed a growth strategy for it in 2010 and again in 2014; Clifford Chance have given extensive legal assistance; and a secondee from EY project managed the launch of a major programme.

In addition, Permira has provided on-going business advice; British Gas gave procurement guidance; Credit Suisse contributed IT support and Thomson Reuters business professionals have mentored managers as the social enterprise has grown.

Oliver Lee, the CEO of The Challenge, said: “SBT has played a crucial part in the transformation of The Challenge from a small local charity into one with national scale and influence. We hugely appreciate the funds and in-kind support it has already given us, as well as this significant new commitment. By working closely together we can help thousands more young people over the coming years.”

Adele Blakebrough, CEO of Social Business Trust said: “The Challenge is a brilliant social enterprise success story. Its growth demonstrates that social enterprises can expand to have impact at scale and make a tangible difference to society. And it shows the incredible power of great social enterprises and world-class businesses working together.”

“We’re delighted to be helping The Challenge on the next stage of its growth story and look forward to hearing about the difference that makes to thousands of young lives.”

As well as delivering the government-supported National Citizen Service programme to tens of thousands of 16 and 17 year olds each year, The Challenge runs two more programmes:

• Step Forward is a high-quality apprenticeship programme that provides school leavers with a year of work experience, helps them develop highly transferable skills and build professional networks whilst giving them the chance to gain a nationally-recognised qualification
• HeadStart gets young people volunteering in their local community, rewarding them with access to part-time jobs with employers, including New Look and Starbucks.

SBT has supported the growth of 21 outstanding social enterprises, selected from reviews of over 900, since the charity was launched in 2010. In addition to The Challenge, these include London Early Years Foundation, now the largest social enterprise nursery group in the UK, which has grown from 23 to 38 nurseries with SBT’s support.