Accelerator launched to help ethnic minority startups in the UK build global connections

By Gill Hyslop contact

- Last updated on GMT

Do you have a standout idea? MSDUK has issued a call out for EMBs in the UK to apply for its inaugural accelerator programme. Pic: GettyImages/Ridofranz
Do you have a standout idea? MSDUK has issued a call out for EMBs in the UK to apply for its inaugural accelerator programme. Pic: GettyImages/Ridofranz

Related tags: MSDUK, diversity, inclusion, minority-owned businesses, Unilever, Google, Dow, WPP, accelerator

MSDUK has partnered with several CPG majors to launch the UK’s first accelerator programme to help 300 ethnic minority-owned businesses (EMBs) to become supply- -chain ready.

According to the NGO, research shows that ethnic minority start-ups face a number of challenges in building a sustainable businesses, including a lack of early-stage investment, VC funding and access to social capital and mentors. These businesses are also under-represented in both public and private sector supply chains.

With nearly one million businesses in the UK that are minority-led, there is a huge untapped entrepreneurial talent that can be nurtured and supported, added Mayank Shah, founder and CEO of MSDUK.

With the backing of Unilever, WPP, Dow and Google, the organisation has launched an accelerator programme that will help give 300 UK startups a foot up onto the global stage.

“For us, it is more than just creating a world-class acceleration programme. It is about empowering ethnic minority founders across the UK and creating an entrepreneurship and corporate ecosystem of equity and opportunity,”​ said Shah.

Call for outstanding startups

MSDUK has issued a call out to ethnic minority founders from across the UK with a standout idea to apply for the free four month programme.

To qualify, EMBs must be able to prove that their business proposition supports one of the accelerator’s value pillars aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to:

  • Propel better societies
  • Amplify sustainable solutions
  • Build cities of the future
  • Empower with creative and digital

Applications are now open​ until 30 August 2021, after which, the first cohort of 40 startups will be selected for the programme starting in October.

The programme has been created with experiential learning at its core and will comprise of one-to-one mentoring sessions, group workshops and bespoke support packages, led by experts in corporate procurement and entrepreneurs with lived-and-learned experience.

The EMBs will have the opportunity to stress-test their business models to align with corporate needs and successful partnerships could  result from MSDUK’s wider corporate network.

Make a difference

“I am very proud to lead this initiative at Unilever, which is part of our new Supplier Development Programme, aiming to provide access to skills and networking opportunities to under-represented racial and ethnic groups,”​ said Alexandra Tarmo, head of Partnerships and Social Procurement at Unilever.

“This is in alignment with our commitment to spend €2bn of our annual supplier spend with diverse suppliers by 2025. 

“Decisive and collective actions are needed to build a society that helps to improve livelihoods, embrace diversity, nurture talent, and offer opportunities for everyone. Collaborating with partners, such as MSDUK, WPP, Dow and Google is a fantastic opportunity and absolutely aligned with our Partner With Purpose Programme to help to make a difference.”

MSDUK is the UK’s premier non-for-profit membership organisation championing diversity and inclusion in public and private sector supply chains. Since its inception in 2006, the organisation has worked with 120 Fortune 500 firms and supported over 3,000 EMBs, generating more than £800m worth of business.

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