Six businesses that help groups impacted by COVID-19 receive funding

These organisations provide innovative solutions for disadvantaged job seekers and other groups financially affected by COVID-19

Nesta, an innovation foundation, has announced that six organisations, including non-profits, are finalists in its “£3m Rapid Recovery Challenge.”

Supported by JPMorgan Chase and the Money and Pensions Service, the Nesta Challenge aims to respond to the financial challenges of the pandemic by helping businesses scale innovative solutions to help those affected most.

Nesta’s mission

The Nesta Challenge seeks to improve job access and offer financial support to 1 million people who have been impacted by COVID-19 by helping organisations scale their solutions to reach people in need: “The Challenge is focused on supporting and scaling innovative solutions from organisations and charities that will improve the job prospects and financial situation of people across the UK, from vulnerable to marginalised groups,” read a statement from a Nesta representative.

“The six innovative tools are all available now and include those that support young people trying to gain work experience as they first enter the labour market, support low paid workers to access earned wages early or alternative income sources (such as grants), and help homeless and disabled people to upskill and find secure work,” it continued.

Nesta’s six finalists have secured £150,000 each to help them with their innovation projects. Nesta’s Rapid Recovery Network – a group of organisations, businesses, and charities will work with them to “rapidly scale these solutions and ensure they are available to as many people as possible in their time of need.”

The finalists are listed below:

1. Beam

Beam has created a digital hub for disadvantaged job-seekers to give them quicker, clearer access to the knowledge, confidence, and contacts that will help them to secure stable work. Designed for a post-COVID-19 job market, tools help people improve digital literacy, demonstrate how to navigate online application portals, and provide employer lists for in-demand sectors such as healthcare and logistics.

2. Evenbreak

Evenbreak’s Career Hive offers relevant and accessible career support for disabled people looking for new or better work. Delivered by careers professionals with lived experience of disability, candidates can access bespoke careers coaching, attend events, find resources and search for jobs on an inclusive job board.

3. Hastee

Hastee is a holistic financial health platform that allows workers access to a portion of their pay as soon as they have earned it. It has created a personalised financial education tool, completely free to 16-24-year-olds in the UK, to help people improve their financial wellbeing.

4. IncomeMax

IncomeMax Digital platform reunites low-income workers, insecure workers, and young workers with income sources through unclaimed benefits, grants, and other financial support such as help for utility bills. The new IncomeMax Messenger tool helps vulnerable customers who prefer to talk digitally access expert advice privately.

5. Turn2us

Turn2us is a digital grants delivery platform that enables users to receive quick financial support by improving the grant process and dramatically reducing wait times for financially vulnerable applicants. Leveraging identity verification, open banking and anti-fraud technology, applicants can safely but swiftly apply.

6. Udrafter

Udrafter is an online platform where businesses can access student and graduate talent on-demand. Students are paid to complete degree-relevant micro-internships, which provide them with crucial work experience. Udrafter removes the ‘who you know’ barriers to work experience and provides equal opportunities for all students. Interns can readily access the platform for free and earn an average hourly rate of £11 compared to the national living wage of £8.91.

The groups most financially impacted by COVID-19

Nesta’s Challenge comes on the back of their research that found that “18-24-year-olds are twice as likely to have been made redundant or furloughed than over 45s and similarly those earning between £20,000-30,000 a year are twice as likely as those earning over £30,000 to be in this situation.”

They also found that 40% of “people who are currently out of work have been unemployed for over six months”, where certain groups including men, (49%), disabled people (49%), and those who are not university educated (42%) are more likely to be among the long-term unemployed.

They also found that one in five people (19%) “say they won’t recover financially from the pandemic for several years,” where this statistic rises (36%) for those who have been furloughed or made redundant.

Tris Dyson, Managing Director, Nesta Challenges, said: “While restrictions are starting to lift across the country, the financial impact that COVID-19 has brought is likely to be with many people for a long while. People’s lives have been turned upside down by health concerns and concerns around financial and job security. The Rapid Recovery Challenge’s goal is to ensure that millions more do not find themselves out of work and that they can see a positive financial future.

“While we have seen numerous innovations that aim to support those whose jobs and money have been impacted by the current crisis, we need to ensure that the solutions can reach those who need them most – quickly. We will be supporting the six finalists to scale their solutions at speed so they can reach and support as many people as possible, which in turn will provide both financial and job stability for many.”

Jessica Ferguson, Co-Head of Global Philanthropy, UK, JPMorgan Chase, added: “It is critical for business, nonprofit and policy leaders to work together to address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable people and families in the UK and advance an inclusive economy. At JPMorgan Chase, we are doing our part by helping impacted people and households become more resilient, improve their financial lives and access the skills needed for stable, well-paying jobs.”

Michael Royce, Senior Policy and Proposition Manager, Strategy & Insights at the Money and Pensions Service, said: “We are proud to be supporting this important initiative, which is looking to help rebuild the financial resilience of people most impacted by the pandemic, especially young people, women, BAME communities and workers on lower or more uncertain incomes.

“The coalition and innovative nature of this Nesta challenge very much reflect the ambitious goals that MaPS has set in its own UK strategy for financial wellbeing, in particular seeing two million fewer people using credit for everyday essentials, two million more people saving regularly, and two million more young people receiving a meaningful financial education.”

Two final winners will secure £200,000 in September 2021; Nesta’s goal is to grow and scale these ideas to reach one million people by 2023. To find out more, click here.
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