Accelerator network Wayra is rolling out a new initiative in the UK to back seven start-ups aiming to tackle the poverty premium where poor families are paying around £500 extra per year for goods and services such as gas, electricity and financial products. The Wayra Fair By Design project will target four areas – energy, finance, insurance and location-based costs.
Telefonica-backed Wayra already has £8 million at hand to fund Fair By Design and is looking to raise up to£20 million. It is supported by Big Society Capital, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Finance Birmingham and Ascension Ventures.
“It should not cost more to be poor,” says Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK. “An entrepreneur’s central task is to offer a compelling, sustainable solution to big problems, and we can think of fewer problems bigger or more worthy of a solution than this one.”
Participating firms will around £70,000 in cash and services, plus support from investors and mentors and coaches, along with the opportunity to work with Telefonica and partners. The initiative will set up shop at Open Future_North, a new acceleration and co-working space in Oldham.
The launch of Open Future_ North forms part of a wider strategy, led by Telefónica Open Future_, to work with local partners to ‘reinvigorate entrepreneurial ecosystems, energise local economies and democratise entrepreneurship across the UK’.