Sainsbury’s offers £1 million opportunity for Black food entrepreneurs

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UK retailer Sainsbury’s along with Foundervine and Mission Ventures are committing £1 million toward a 16-week “incubator programme” that will specifically be earmarked for food startup companies led by Black entrepreneurs.

The three businesses said Thrive with Sainsbury’s will effort to help ethnic minorities both navigate the challenges of the industry as well as provide the financial support to help them get off the ground successfully. In turn, Sainsbury’s says there could be as many as five new brands that show up on their shelves from these startups by next year who will gain better access to the market.

“A key focus of our Win in Food strategy is to bring innovation to our customers and at Sainsbury’s we’ve always been passionate about seeking out new or emerging brands,” Silika Shellie-Manso, Director of Grocery Innovation at Sainsbury’s said. “As an inclusive retailer, we believe that to offer great food and drink for everyone, it should be made by everyone. We know that despite the strength of ideas and potential amongst Black founders, often opportunities and success can be hindered by ethnicity, which is we are starting with this group of the most underrepresented founders first.

Sainsbury’s and its partners are giving nine of the applicants £20,000 in grant money, plus more than 150 hours of one-on-one support and a chance for collaboration with experts. For those that excel, as much as £105,000 for each brand will be eligible over the four-month period.

“At Mission Ventures, we believe that entrepreneurial ideas and talent are equally distributed, but right now, the opportunity is not,” Louis Bedwell, Managing Director at Mission Ventures said. “As a group of entrepreneurs with more than 80 years of industry experience, we’re excited to use our knowledge and expertise to drive forward a new generation of innovation. [This] will not only create a new range of delicious food and drink products but also help to create a fairer and more equitable food industry.”


What’s required to apply? Individuals or businesses who have been founded by a Black entrepreneur, who have an interest in growing to supermarket-level distribution with an “exciting new product Sainsbury’s customers will love” are eligible. Those interested can look at other qualifications at www.foundervine.com/sainsburys-thrive. Applications will close on 16 August.

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