The oldest pair ever to row across an ocean set to cross the Atlantic in support of UnLtd

Guy Rigby and David Murray will shortly attempt to become the oldest pair ever to row across any ocean as they prepare for their Atlantic crossing in this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. They will leave the Canaries on 12th December in their 24-foot ocean rowing boat, “The Entrepreneur Ship”, hoping to reach Antigua sometime in February 2022.

Guy, Founder and Chair of the Entrepreneurial Services Group at Smith & Williamson, and his fellow crew member David, entrepreneur, investor and sports enthusiast are raising money for UnLtd, a charity that finds, funds and supports social entrepreneurs in the UK.

To date, Guy and David have raised a total of over £500,000 with the support of some of the most influential businesses in the entrepreneurial ecosystem, including Smith & Williamson, Mishcon de Reya and Crowdcube. They are also supported by Tech Nation, Founders Forum and London Tech Week. The resulting funding will be used to help social entrepreneurs grow their ventures at scale, particularly those who have historically struggled to access support.

Research from UnLtd shows that the last year has seen a boom in social entrepreneurs from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds seeking to start up. According to recent polling, people from these backgrounds are more than twice as likely to consider starting a social enterprise (23%) than their white counterparts (10%). However, over a third of those polled (37%) said that personal finances were a barrier to starting up and growing, with lack of access to business funding and investment a close second (34%).

In the last year, UnLtd has supported over 662 social entrepreneurs, including:

  •     Izzy Obeng and Cecil Adjalo from Foundervine, whose vision is that ambitious leaders, creators and innovators have the tools to build the organisations of tomorrow. They work to remove the social and economic barriers to innovation.
  •     Pranav Chopra, founder of NEMI teas, who uses the simple cup of tea to offer employment and support to refugees and create an inclusive, welcoming society. NEMI Teas is working towards a goal of providing employment for 1,000 refugees by 2025.
  •     Tarik Kaidi of Minds United FC, a community football club in West London who actively support adults experiencing mental health issues or substance misuse, using sport as a way to reduce social isolation and recover wellbeing.
  •     Poku Osei of Babbasa, formed to tackle Bristol’s rising levels of youth unemployment, educational underachievement and the rapid decline in youth aspirations for ethnically diverse communities. Through partnerships with the business community, they foster change and shift attitudes in employers and recruitment.

Guy Rigby, Founder and Chair of Smith & Williamson’s Entrepreneurial Services Group, said: “Our total fundraising of in excess of £500,000 is a great start, particularly as this has been achieved before the race has even begun. With the help of our sponsors, supporters and donors, we hope to significantly increase this to generate some really meaningful funding.

“By finding, funding and supporting social entrepreneurs in the UK, UnLtd is at the heart of promoting social mobility and the levelling-up agenda. Many of its beneficiaries come from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, LGBTQ+ communities, or are disabled and there are often many barriers that prevent these people from starting their own businesses. UnLtd plays a crucial role in providing the finance and tools to help them overcome these.”

David Murray, Investor and company director at Hotsmoked said: “Over the years, I have invested in a variety of social ventures and understand the impact these businesses contribute to our society. We are now less than a month from our start date and it’s inspiring to see that the donations are continuing, helping us to support social entrepreneurs who have historically been locked out of funding.

“With a boom in the number of entrepreneurs who identify from minority backgrounds, it’s important to provide the support needed to scale their ventures.”

Mark Norbury, Chief Executive at UnLtd commented: “Guy & David have already made a huge commitment to social entrepreneurs with the time and effort they’ve spent raising sponsorship and funds for UnLtd, while preparing for the challenge of a lifetime: rowing the Atlantic. They’ve been astonishing – raising over £500,000 with us. And yet the hardest part is just beginning.

“Everyone at UnLtd will be tracking their progress keenly and urging them on because we want them to have a brilliant row, to be well and because every £ they raise is critical in helping more social entrepreneurs to start and grow their impact. Now more than ever, we need businesses with purpose at the heart of a sustainable and inclusive society. We’re hugely grateful for The Entrepreneur Ship’s support.”

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