Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Housing association launches social enterprise incubator

 

Housing association Aster Group has launched an initiative to find entrepreneurs and start-up businesses that tackle social issues.

The social incubator, called inc., is the first scheme of its kind to be created by a housing association in the UK.

With the aim of providing creative solutions to some of the biggest challenges faced by communities, inc. will develop businesses with a social purpose such as those tackling homelessness, mental health, financial exclusion, unemployment and the economic recovery from Covid-19.

Successful applicants will be taken forward onto a ten-month business development programme designed to bring their ideas to market and connect them with potential partners and investors. The programme draws on the resources and expertise of an established social organisation, Aster, and its people.

Mentoring and additional guidance will be provided by established social entrepreneurs. Businesses in the programme will also be able to conduct market research and gather feedback from Aster’s 90,000 social and affordable housing customers to help inform how their services and products are developed to ensure they have a positive impact on communities.

The scheme is being delivered by the Aster Foundation, a part of the housing association that invests in projects that improve lives and remove barriers to opportunity for those living in Aster’s community of more than 30,000 homes across southern England.

Cam Kinsella, director of the Aster Foundation, said: “There are choppy waters ahead for the UK and, as we work our way out of what could be one of the worst economic crises in our history, the need for innovative solutions to the challenges facing society will only increase.

"We want to find the people who will create those solutions and give them the support they need to turn their ideas into products and services that benefit our communities.

“There are people all over the country in need of greater support, whether it’s those who find themselves out of work following the Covid-19 lockdown, the growing number without a home, or those who don’t get the help they need with mental health. We launched inc. because we know these problems persist in society and that new thinking is needed to address them.”

The development programme is set to start later this year and Aster are looking for investors who would like to support new businesses emerging from the programme. Find out more by visiting www.aster.co.uk/foundation/inc