Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship
Now in its sixth year, the Skoll Centre at Saïd Business School recently held the final pitching round for the Skoll Venture Awards. On Thursday 14 June, four early-stage social ventures, drawn from 52 applications and developed by Oxford University students and alumni, were presented to an expert panel of judges and a live audience. Boresha Technologies was awarded the winning prize of £20,000.
Boresha was founded by three Oxford University students: James Thorogood (Rhodes Scholar and MSc in Water Science, Policy & Management); Kabeleka David Kabeleka (Rhodes Scholar and MSc in Social Science of the Internet); and Louis Slade, MSc in International Development.
Acknowledging that small farmers need liquidity to operate their businesses, Boresha aims to provide reliable and low-cost sources of working capital for them, by managing invoicing and supply chain finance on their behalf. They also ensure that lending processes are clear by using a hybrid of digital ledgers, voice messaging, and paper pay stubs and work to facilitate investment in rural supply chains, connecting agribusiness owners with capital for investing in storage, transport and other assets.
On winning the £20,000 prize, Boresha’s CEO James Thorogood said: ‘We’re really thrilled to have received the Skoll Venture Award. This is a huge milestone for Boresha. We started about a year ago and all our work has been done out-of-pocket to date, but we’ve still managed to bootstrap the product and acquire customers in Uganda. So, we’re incredibly excited about what this £20,000 can do for us. This initial funding will allow us to start profiling 5,000 to 10,000 dairy farmers in South-West Uganda and connect them to financial opportunities as well as other opportunities in the market.’
Skoll Centre Director Dr Peter Drobac with Boresha’s CEO, James Thorogood (Rhodes Scholar and MSc Water Science, Policy & Management at University of Oxford)
Boresha is also participating in the OXFO L.E.V8, the new accelerator at the Oxford Foundry, where they will receive valuable access to a network of investors, mentors and entrepreneurial experts. ‘L.E.V8 has already changed our thinking about the future of our company,’ explains the CEO, James Thorogood. ‘Our business has seriously accelerated now that we’ve tapped into Oxford’s vast networks with global companies, prominent entrepreneurs, and domain experts. We’ve raised our sights, and our game.’
In addition to the top £20,000 prize, the audience at the 2018 Skoll Venture Awards used an online voting app to award a further prize to their favourite venture. The winner of the audience vote and recipient of the £5,000 prize was Adelie Health.
Two Oxford University students Meredith Caldwell (MBA 2017-18) and Ferdinando Randisi (DPhil candidate in Theoretical Biophysics) founded Adelie Health with Liam McMorrow who is a diabetes researcher at Oxford Health Economics Research Centre.
Adelie Health’s founder and CEO, Liam McMorrow, has lived with type 1 diabetes for 15 years and understands better than most the importance of self-administering insulin regularly and consistently. Adelie’s flagship product, PenPal, is a smart device that helps diabetics manage their insulin doses; a key component of diabetes self-management.
‘It’s been a pleasure to pitch to the judges and audience today,’ said McMorrow. ‘The prize fund will help us to secure the IP for the product, which is a huge stepping stone for us.’
Adelie Health’s CEO, Liam McMorrow with Skoll Centre Director, Dr Peter Drobac
Skoll Venture Awards
The Skoll Venture Awards provide funding to current Oxford Saïd students and alumni who have developed a social impact-focused venture. The business model should be based on a deep knowledge and understanding of the problem it seeks to address. The Skoll Venture Awards are for those who apply an ecosystem-focused approach to addressing social and environmental challenges.
The Awards serve to supply the venture with catalytic funding, but the Skoll Centre also accompanies these social businesses as they progress in their development, including identifying possibilities for further financial and non-financial support. Winning the award opens up a whole host of opportunities for the team, helping to drive the venture forward.
Find out more about the Skoll Venture Awards.