One to watch: Split Banana
The latest batch of ventures has emerged from Year Here, a programme designed to cultivate entrepreneurial approaches to entrenched social problems. Among this year's cohort is Split Banana, a creative enterprise that's taking on the UK's outdated sex education curriculum. Co-founder Anna Alexander answers our questions
How would you describe your venture to a 10-year-old child?
Split Banana supports young people to have healthy and happy relationships with their minds, their bodies and each other. We deliver creative programmes in schools, discussing relationships and sex in a safe, fun space.
What was the tipping point that made you realise your idea could work?
Running a workshop with a group of 16-18 year-olds on gender. In the midst of a storyboarding activity (where they depicted a time they'd been treated a certain way because of their gender), a group of boys began to talk about how hard they found it to express their emotions and the stigma around men crying in public. It generated an incredible group discussion, and the other students came to an agreement that it was OK to opt out of a gendered narrative, and that they were going to actively challenge it. After the session, a boy came back into the room and told us that he needed to tell us that the session had made him feel better. He felt hopeful – this is when we realised how important it is to create a space for these conversations.
What's the most valuable thing you've learned in the past year?
One day, Matilda [Lawrence-Jubb, Anna's co-founder] was selling a pair of shoes on Depop [an online marketplace], and she noticed that the buyer's name looked like Sara Pascoe... she found out that it in fact was the famous comedian and writer of the brilliant and empowering Animal: The Autobiography of a Female Body. We told her about Split Banana and asked her to be our champion – and she agreed! This year has taught us to make the most of every surprise and every opportunity; to have faith in our insights and most importantly, to act upon them in smart ways.
Dreaming big, where could your business be in 12 months' time?
Using the insights generated by the students in our workshops to create exhibitions and campaigns with large cultural institutions; showcasing the importance of sex-ed on a national level, and ensuring that young people's voices take centre stage.
Year Here gives (mostly young) professionals the chance to build entrepreneurial responses to society’s toughest problems. Over one year, participants learn from, and design with, people at the frontline of inequality – in care homes, hostels and youth services across London. Read more about Year Here ventures here.
Header photo: Anna (left) and Matilda (right).