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05 May 2021

The Ubele Initiative join the Enterprise Development Programme as Black and Minoritised Communities Sector Partner

The Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) is expanding to be able to support charities and social enterprises operating in the Black and Minoritised Communities sector.The EDP is led by a partnership of national infrastructure bodies seeking to support the development of enterprise models in charities and social enterprises working in certain thematic sectors. It has been developed and is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment. Social Investment Business (SIB) provide a management role for the overall programme. EDP’s current sector themes cover Equality, Homelessness, Mental Health and Youth, with sector partners Equally Ours, Homeless Link, The Association of Mental Health Providers, and The Centre for Youth Impact.

The Ubele Initiative will be joining the programme as the Black and Minoritised Communities sector partner. The Black and Minoritised Communities Enterprise Development Programme (BMEDP) will contribute to one of the key delivery objectives within The Ubele Initiative’s new three-year strategic plan. As part of this plan, they will establish the first ever National Strategic Alliance, the aim of which is to support Community Wealth Building within Black and Minoritised communities. The BMEDP will be led by Ubele and hosted within the National Strategic Alliance. The Strategic Alliance is still at an early stage of development. However, once established and fully operational it will consist of up to 12 Black and Minoritised regional infrastructure alongside key local anchor organisations across England, with the South West, London and Yorkshire and Humber already confirmed.

The Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter shed light on deep rooted social and economic structural inequalities which disproportionately impact on Black and Minoritised communities. It surfaced the need to challenge institutional racism which is still in place across the UK. Furthermore, existing large-scale gaps in service provision have been exacerbated by a lack of support and under-investment in support for Black and Minoritised Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise (VCSE) infrastructure arrangements over many years. Although national, regional and local recovery strategies have begun to set out plans for addressing some of these inequalities through a mission driven approach, there is an urgent need for targeted strategic interventions over a period of years.

The EDP provides a broad range of support, helping organisations to establish new enterprise models, or grow existing ones. It offers a combination of cohort-based peer learning opportunities, training, direct advice and support, as well as grants to research or test out new ideas, to launch new enterprises or grow existing ones.

Since relaunching following its pilot in January 2020, the programme has supported over 80 organisations across the Equality, Homelessness, Mental Health and Youth sectors with tailored support packages, which have included learning programmes and grants.

Seb Elsworth, Chief Executive of Access – The Foundation for Social Investment – said:

“We have learned from our work over the last five years that developing viable enterprise models in charities and social enterprises is a key way to build resilience. It is also a precondition of being able to utilise social investment. We are delighted to be working with The Ubele Initiative and a range of partners to further expand the EDP to the Black and Minoritised Communities sector, both to directly support dozens of organisations and to help strengthen the vital infrastructure for the sector in the longer term.”

Yvonne Field, Founder and Director of The Ubele Initiative, said:

“The Ubele Initiative started ten years ago as a community-led intervention. Since then we have worked intentionally and collaboratively to give voice and support to the needs and concerns of Black and Minoritised communities across the country.

The Black and Minoritised Communities Enterprise Development Programme (BMEDP) is a necessary response to an urgent need for longer term strategic enterprise-led interventions to the Black and Minoritised VCSE sector. 

We are pleased to strengthen our partnership with Access and Social Investment Business through BMEDP, and use the programme to support the creation of the first ever National Strategic Alliance to support Community Wealth Building within Black and Minoritised communities.” 

Deborah Smart, Director of Grants at Social Investment Business, said:

At Social Investment Business, our strategy involves providing the finance that organisations need to create fairer communities. We know that COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities between and within communities across the UK – particularly for black and minoritised communities. We are pleased therefore to be expanding our partnership with Access on the Enterprise Development Programme to include the Black and Minoritised Communities sector and strengthening our existing partnership with The Ubele Initiative. We look forward to supporting the enterprise activity of charities and social enterprises working in the black and minoritized communities sector.”

How to apply

Stage 1 application for BMEDP will open on 1 June 2021, with a deadline 4 weeks later on 29 June. Stage 2 applications will then remain open for a further 3 weeks, closing on 20 July. You can find the eligibility criteria here.

You can find out more about EDP and the application process here.


For further information, please contact:

Access – The Foundation for Social Investment
Ana Van Bilsen Irias
Programme Manager

Social Investment Business
Miranda Love
Marketing and Communications Lead

The Ubele Initiative
Anita Duda
Communications Manager

Notes to Editors

About Access

Access – The Foundation for Social Investment works to make charities and social enterprises in England more financially resilient and self-reliant, so that they can sustain or increase their impact.

Access does this by supporting the development of enterprise activity to grow and diversify income, and improving access to the social investment which can help stimulate that enterprise activity.

Set up in 2015, Access was endowed with £60m by the Government to support more organisations to access social investment. Access also provides grant into blended finance programmes to enable social investment providers to offer more of the sort of finance the sector most needs.

About Social Investment Business

Social Investment Business provides finance to create fairer communities and improve people’s lives. They do this by providing the money and support they need directly, partnering to support them effectively and, using their knowledge to inform their own work and influence others.

Since 2004, SIB has deployed and managed over £400m of loans and grants into over 2,000 organisations and enabled almost 1,000 more to get dedicated support through programmes.

About The Ubele Initiative

The Ubele Initiative (Ubele) derives its name from the Swahili word meaning ‘The Future’. Ubele is an African Diaspora led intergenerational social enterprise founded in 2014, to build more sustainable communities across the UK.

They support a wide range of communities, most notably Black and minoritised community organisations and groups, with their community assets (people and physical spaces), through social action, community enterprise development and next-generation leadership initiatives. Ubele’s approach includes facilitating group learning and bringing together a culturally diverse and intergenerational group of community activists and changemakers.