We’ve talked often of the importance of nurturing a self-starting mentality on Your Derry. Many of these discussions have referenced the lack of outside investment coming into the city.
InvestNI (and various government departments) have been heavily criticised in this regard for their obvious lean towards the east of the country, Belfast in particular. And whilst those statistics can’t be denied and should continue to be highlighted, scrutinised and put right, one of the nuances of these types of funding, a fact not always known to the layman, is that it’s typically only dispensed to businesses projected to export their goods and services to foreign markets above a certain threshold.
Whilst the reasoning for this is pretty obvious because it brings new money into the economy, it overlooks initiatives with more initially modest and local aspirations. Ones that can often be the catalyst for bigger and better things. Projects that may not have global aspirations (yet) – but which could add value on local scale. We thus think supporting both is equally important.
There are alternative pots of funding for fledgling initiatives of this type of course, dispensed by council and other bodies, but they aren’t without restriction and due process, the sums on offer aren’t huge – and as anyone starting out will tell you – the more support available, the better.
The LAB Challenge Fund is different.
We are asking local businesses, small, medium and large, to invest a set amount each month into a growing crowd-funded pot, which will regularly be invested back into people, projects and initiatives that the city wants to see and needs, every few months. A fund that will enable our platform to inject much needed seed capital into new startups, entrepreneurial endeavours, social enterprises – that you can watch grow and take the journey with here – and Your Derry, as we chart their progress and help mentor them. We seek to showcase first hand what can be achieved with self-starting mentality – by giving business owners the chance to invest into other entrepreneurs, both commercial and community based, to help them in their journey.
We realise that asking for financial support means transparency and accountability – and last year we registered Your Derry as a Community Interest Company specifically with this in mind as we prepared to begin fund raising activities. This means that every penny you put into the fund will be diverted directly back into the scheme and the community. Everything will be accounted for and available to review in our end of year accounts, published online. All of the directors, myself included, are volunteers in this scheme who offer our time freely. Each of us are also contributing into the fund ourselves, some us multiple times through various businesses we are involved in, so we are literally invested into the success of this fund, and we hope you’ll join us.
Other things to know:
In return for pledging your support you’ll get your own copy of the charter you signed up to. You’ll also be promoted on the platform as Charter Member and will receive both digital and tangible assets to put on your website, display on social, stick in your window and/or display in your premises. You’ll also get a login to this website, where in time you’ll be able to see what projects you’ve helped support, the current size of the fund and upcoming plans for the next round of awards. We’ll also publish much of this information to the public site for full transparency – once we hit our first sign up milestone of 100 members.
We’re initially aiming the LAB Fund at businesses, however individuals are more than welcome to sign up if they so wish. We will roll out a specific ‘Individuals’ plan at a later date, with a lower or variable monthly fee, but we are focusing on companies, organisations and individuals able to pledge the £20.24 amount so we can rapidly grow the fund and start making awards soon.
The awards process itself will be outlined in upcoming blog posts and communications here and on Your Derry – and will allow entries from both commercial and community sector. We are currently targeting dispensing 75% of the fund every three months back into the community, with 25% held in reserve to fund larger projects.
Naturally whilst we really hope those who become paying charter members remain with us until 2024 – your subscription is not a contract and can be cancelled or paused at any time via the LAB website if you have any concerns or a reason to do so. However we obviously hope those making the commitment and see it through!
Thanks for reading – and getting involved. If you’ve any other questions or enquiries please get in touch!