Nationwide aims to tackle poverty with start-up challenge

Nationwide is launching a start-up incubator programme which aims to help companies tackle poverty in response to the negative impact of the pandemic on many British households.

The building society is also investing £2.5 million in the Fair By Design (FBD) Fund, a venture fund managed by Ascension Ventures providing capital to help grow businesses that make markets fairer.

Nationwide is looking for applicants with ideas for start-up or scale-up businesses, which can tackle issues associated with living in poverty.

The programme’s first challenge is focused on six themes: affordable credit, what happens if you are declined for credit, housing, fair access to essential goods and services, income smoothing, and wider implications of a poor credit score.

The society’s Incubator programme has two phases, Explore and Build.

In Explore, organisations will receive £30,000 of investment from Nationwide to support three months of investigation alongside support from experts through testing and development.

Companies which complete the Explore phase and deliver a tested, scalable solution will be considered by Nationwide and FBD for a subsequent Build phase, an additional six months in the incubator to build and scale their solutions, for which funding will also be available.

“As a mutual, we believe in the power of collaboration and that we can achieve more together than we can alone,” said Claire Tracey, Nationwide chief strategy and sustainability officer. “Building on the success of the Society’s Open Banking for Good initiative, the Nationwide Incubator will bring together innovators, charities, organisations and experts to help tackle the scourge of the Poverty Premium.

She added: “Individuals living on a financial knife-edge are forced to pay more for basic goods and services. This is simply not right, nor fair. Through providing meaningful support alongside funding, we are looking to help transform the lives of those living in poverty through scaling long-term solutions to help tackle the challenges this presents.”

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