In 2011, SBT invested in London Early Years Foundation, one of the first organisations in the portfolio. The main objective was to support the organisation to focus on its growth trajectory. Almost a decade on, CEO June O’Sullivan MBE reflects on the experience of working with SBT and our corporate partners, underpinned by growing solid relations and finding the confidence to expand in a meaningful way. LEYF is dedicated to providing high-quality care and education for young children across London regardless of income level, through a unique business model where the surplus from full fee-paying children subsidises reduced-cost or free places for others.

The support received from SBT and its corporate partners has been instrumental in helping LEYF reach more young children around London, as LEYF “had no real infrastructure to grow the business.” June explains that, although LEYF had grown from 8 to 23 nurseries organically, “what we needed was the structure to go further and with SBT holding our hand, we grew from 23 to 39 nurseries in a short period of time”. Being part of SBT’s portfolio allowed LEYF to define its business model more effectively and to better understand the mechanisms of growth step-by-step. But it also gave them that extra bit of confidence as they were navigating in that business space.
We have also learnt to believe in ourselves a bit more. I’ve always been quite self-critical and believe there’s always something to improve upon. But when you get that affirmation from a company externally, it gives you greater confidence to believe in doing the next step. - June O’Sullivan MBE, CEO – LEYF

Working with corporate consultancies such as Bain & Company and EY allowed LEYF to better frame its thinking and taught the team how to be more succinct in the way that they built and delivered their business plan. The corporate volunteers gave LEYF structure and focus of mind. “What they did really well was help to get our social impact laid out very clearly in a quadrant of four strong elements – the amount of time we give the children, the length of time, the quality of the care we give to them, and the relationships we build through the whole learning relationship. They helped us hone into that,” explains June.

The relationships built with corporate partner volunteers were key for LEYF’s growth journey. Everyone involved in the project was enriched – both personally and professionally. Corporate volunteers fostered friendships and opened doors and opportunities for LEYF.LEYF has received the largest investment to date and help has included legal advice, reviews of fees and infrastructure, plus funding for key business roles. Ultimately, becoming part of SBT’s portfolio gave June and her team a tremendous boost of confidence
in what they are doing.

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