Tree Shepherd Big Venture Challenge 2015 Winner


BVC Winner 2015Tree Shepherd has been announced as one of the winners of this year’s Big Venture Challenge, a programme for ambitious and scalable social ventures that is run by UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

After a competitive process, with over 450 social ventures expressing their interest in being part of the programme, and a resulting 110 submitting full business plans, Tree Shepherd has been announced as one of the 40 to be part of this year’s Big Venture Challenge. The final stage of the application process required each entrepreneur to pitch in front of a Dragon’s Den style room full of investors and various business leaders including ex-BBC The Apprentice judge Margaret Mountford.

SME’s account for over 47% of private sector employment and over 33% of private sector turnover[1] in the UK underlining the importance of this sector to our economy. Almost a quarter of all SME employers consider themselves to have a social or environmental objective[2], and with UnLtd alone supporting over 1,000 social entrepreneurs each year, social entrepreneurship and the growth of social ventures is clearly playing an increasingly significant role in the UK.

The Big Venture Challenge will provide Tree Shepherd with support in scaling the business as well as the ability to pitch for up to £100,000 of match funding which can be used to leverage up to £500,000 of social investment.

  • Tree Shepherd turn job seekers into job makers by helping them create a business in a supportive network of local people who share the same dream.
  • Tree Shepherd’s job creation model is extremely cost-effective at <£2K per job outcome. The additional value created in terms of resilient communities creates significant social value beyond employment benefit.
  • Our Theory of Change shows that people from disadvantaged backgrounds have a lot more to offer than they are commonly credited with. With straightforward business support, trust and patience they can start and grow businesses that go on to employ others from similar backgrounds and regenerate their community on their own terms.
  • Tree Shepherd currently delivers enterprise support in Lambeth. In 2013/14 we reached 147 residents, 64% BAME and 32 were lone parents. In 2014/15 we have reached 200+.
  • In the coming year we will deliver in Southwark and Lewisham and have plans to expand into other London boroughs.

Notes to editors:

About Big Venture Challenge

The Big Venture Challenge offers 12 months of intensive support designed to help social entrepreneurs raise external investment (debt or equity) of £50,000 to £500,000.  This means working with the entrepreneur to build a compelling growth story, finding investors, making strategic connections and supporting the entrepreneur during the journey.

Match-funding of between £25,000 and £100,000 is available from Big Venture Challenge if a co-investor is prepared to invest an equal or greater amount during the 12-month award period.

Support on raising investment, planning for rapid growth and brokering powerful networks will be delivered by UnLtd in partnership with ClearlySo, Shaftesbury Partnership, and the Social Investment Business.

The Big Venture Challenge is a three-year programme, supporting 100 high potential, high growth social ventures. It is funded by the Big Lottery Fund England.

About other BVC 2015 Winners

  • Leanna Barrett runs Little Forest Folk. Little Forest Folk provide full-time outdoor childcare for urban 2-5 year olds to combat the observed increase in nature deficit disorder. Their nursery is reconnecting the next generation with nature in the unbounded outdoors, vastly improving their physical and mental development, encouraging families to live a healthier lifestyle and producing the future custodians of our planet.
  • Sharron Davies runs Parents4Sport. Parents4Sport provides parents with the best available advice to help their children access and enjoy sport, for the benefit of their own health and the wellbeing of their local communities.
  • Katherine Tyler and Nikki Cochraine run Digital Mums. Digital Mums offer job ready training programme to turn mums into the best social media managers on the market and matches them with businesses who need their help to get digital.
  • Rosie Ginday runs Miss Macaroon. Miss Macaroon produce macaroons, supplying to small businesses, large retailers and catering establishments. They provide training and employment opportunities for marginalised young people to give them the skills to work in the catering business.

About ClearlySo

ClearlySo is an impact investment firm, working exclusively with businesses and funds delivering social or environmental impact as well as financial return. It supports capital raising activity through financial advisory work, and introduce businesses, charities and funds to institutional and individual investors who share their values. Since 2012, clients raising capital with ClearlySo have raised over £60m in impact investment, including £4m investment into early-stage businesses from Clearly Social Angels, the UK’s largest impact-orientated angel investor network. It was founded by Rodney Schwartz, a senior manager from Wall Street and the City. ClearlySo is committed to bringing impact to investing as a third dimension – alongside risk and return – where investors consider the social and environmental impact in every investment decision they make.

For interviews or further details please contact

About Shaftesbury Partnerships

The Shaftesbury Partnership is a social business with the mission to create and inspire trailblazing social reforms which tackle disadvantage and generate opportunity. We have launched a number of ventures which create jobs and new businesses, reduce re-offending, support social action in the faith sector, inspire healthcare innovators, and engage young people with their communities – among others.

Connectivity and networks are fundamental to our work, and we continually bring together a diverse range of people and organisations from different sectors to support the development of our own ventures and those of our partners.

For more information, visit

About Social Investment Business

Social Investment Business is one of the UK’s leading social investors and has invested more than £380 million in 1300 charities and social enterprises since 2002. We provide simple finance to help them grow and transform the communities in which they work. We pioneer new finance solutions to increase the funds available for social investment.


About the Big Lottery Fund

  • The Big Lottery Fund is committed to developing the social investment market in England in a way that supports voluntary and community (VCS) organisations to better serve those most in need.
  • The Big Lottery Fund is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised by the National Lottery.
  • The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK.
  • Since its inception in 2004 it has awarded close to £6bn.

About UnLtd

UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offers the largest such network in the world. It resources more than 1,000 individuals each year through its core Awards programme.

UnLtd puts people at the heart of what it does and reaches out to find passionate, talented, resourceful people who are determined to tackle the key issues facing society. Its focus is on helping greater numbers of people to start up as social entrepreneurs, enabling those who want – and can – to scale up their impact.

UnLtd aims to develop collaboration and networks that will create an ecosystem of support, through delivering support to social entrepreneurs in partnership with social investors and delivery partners. It operates a unique model by investing directly in individuals and offering a complete package of resources; from awards of funding between £500 and £100,000 to ongoing advice, networking and practical support.

UnLtd is the trading name for The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs.

For more information about the support offered by UnLtd go to

Twitter: @UnLtd



[1] The Federation of Small Businesses; Small Business Statistics (2014)

[2] Social Enterprise: Market trends (Cabinet Office, May 2013)

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