171, Mark Norbury, UnLtd | The Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs
UnLtd is the UK’s largest supporter of early-stage social entrepreneurs.
Mark grew up in the time when Land-Aid, Band-Aid, and Live-Aid were popular. “The idea that you can be a rock star who saved the world was pretty damned compelling when you’re fourteen years old” he confesses. But, with a lack of musical talent, Mark decided to focus on changing the world.
As an 18-year-old, Mark volunteered on London’s east side, working with Father Duncan. “He was much more of a social activist than he was a priest,” Mark explains. “He was five-foot-nothing. He was a British-Asian guy who experienced a lot of racial abuse…He also fostered a young kid who had come from an abusive background. And he had a rare blood disorder that caused him to have to take whole body blood transfusions.”
During his work with Father Duncan, Mark experienced a world different from his own, from domestic abuse to illiteracy, to the lives of the elderly. “That was where I realized that what I needed to do was to try to make a difference.”
After university, Mark worked in non-profits but did not quite find the sustainable model he was looking for. He eventually enrolled at INSEAD where he encountered social entrepreneurship. With social entrepreneurship, he saw the bridge between service and economic sustainability.
Mark helped set up INSEAD’s Social Innovation Centre where they introduce and developed new business models that deliver sustainable economic, environmental and social prosperity. He also was a trustee at Bridges Ventures. It was while at Bridges Ventures that he first had contact with UnLtd. In 2016, he joined UnLtd as its Chief Executive Officer.
UnLtd has backed over 40,000 individuals over the last 15 years. They provide three levels of awards to early-stage social ventures:
- Try it, which is £500
- Do it, up to £5,000
- Grow it, up to £15,000
These awards come with support such as business advice, coaching, mentoring, and peer-to-peer support.
UnLtd has also runs the Big Venture Challenge, an award program that provides match funding to help growing social enterprises to raise investment and deliver social impact at scale.
Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Mark Norbury
“Everything we do, the social entrepreneur is at the heart of it.”
“I grew up in the Land Aid, Live Aid, Band Aid era.”
“UnLtd is a gem, but it’s not realized its potential yet.”
“You’ll find social entrepreneurs in these communities making something with nothing.”
“They’re creating a micro-conglomerate of brilliance and hope, and it’s all self-sustaining.”
“Make it about the people and communities you’re serving.”
“Do it in a co-production model.”
“Social entrepreneurs don’t always ask for help enough.”
“I’m an idealistic optimist.”
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