Social entrepreneurship part of multinational EY’s DNA

The EY Foundation has launched a new programme offering just under 100 youth focussed social enterprises in the UK access to a 12 to 18 month business support programme.

The Accelerate programme provides the selected social entrepreneurs with their personal business coach, workshops and networking events. It has been designed for social entrepreneurs aged between 18 and 30, and for social enterprises that support young people into education, employment or setting up a business.

Maryanne Matthews, CEO of the EY Foundation, told Pioneers Post: “EY’s heritage is around entrepreneurship and for many years it has done a huge amount to support social entrepreneurship, for example through its Social Entrepreneur of the Year award each year. It is part of its DNA.”

The EY Foundation was founded by the multinational in July last year. It is an independent charity which receives financial support from both EY and other donors.

Matthews continued: “EY has enabled us to have access to all of its clients, we are gifted use of its office space and actually we also have access to its in-house skills. It recognises that we are a start-up in our own right.

We could have stayed within EY and supported around 200 entrepreneurs a year – but as a separate charity we now operate across the UK, in 11 cities from London to Aberdeen and can support many more young people and attract more independent funding to become a force for change in our own right.”

Included in the organisations who have made it onto the Accelerate programme is We Walk the Line – a social enterprise that helps apprentice entrepreneurs set up their own micro retail or service business.

Also included is upReach, which connects university graduates from less privileged backgrounds with graduate schemes, internships and job opportunities in competitive industries.

The EY Foundation is governed by a board of 10 trustees who operate independently of EY. The board’s chair Patrick Dunne, who is also chair of both  LEAP Confronting Conflict and D30, joked at the launch of the Accelerate programme in EY’s London-based head office: “I have had the joy of running workshops in South African prisons, providing me with excellent training for working with entrepreneurs.”

“Entrepreneurialism historically was very much seen as something different from being a professional – which led some people to believe that in order to be an entrepreneur, you have to not be professional. This is not very helpful. Our view is that to be really successful and to sustain that success, you need to be both entrepreneurial and professional,” Dunne said.

Matthews told Pioneers Post that the Foundation’s core aim was to “work with the young people most in need where there is market failure".

“One way we’ll judge our success is if, as well as doing stuff in Manchester and London, we’re able to say we’re making an impact in the less obvious areas, where young people need support setting up businesses or becoming more employable. Often certain parts of the UK are ignored, despite huge levels of need.”

She calls this the ‘Clacton-on-Sea test’.


Last year we interviewed Martin Cook, managing partner at EY and partner sponsor of the EY Foundation, as part of our Leadership Laid Bare series. Watch here.

Photo credit: UnLtd