Think Big & UnLtd join forces to power youth social enterprise

This week, we’ve been celebrating Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) – the world’s largest campaign to promote entrepreneurship. Each year, GEW plays a critical role in encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs to consider starting up their own business.

At O2, we’re proud to play our part in fostering this culture of creative, entrepreneurial thinking, through our Think Big programme. The programme invests in young people with brilliant ideas, helping them to deliver positive social change in their communities. Young people who take part in Think Big have the opportunity to build a range of business skills including planning, project and budget management, problem-solving and networking – and they also get a taste of running their own, independent venture.

For many, it’s their first experience of enterprise – a chance to build their confidence and skills, tackling issues that matter to them. For others, Think Big provides an opportunity for young people to re-imagine their futures – and to take the first steps on the road to becoming fully fledged entrepreneurs.

Since 2010, we’ve supported over 5000 young people to start small, Think Big. A few years on and we’re starting to see those seeds of entrepreneurship grow – with young people who have used the experience and skills gained through Think Big to start their own social ventures. At O2, we wanted to find a way to support these ambitious, enterprising young people to turn their social projects into sustainable social businesses. We also wanted to draw on the knowledge, skills and expertise of a flourishing enterprise sector, to ensure that young people received the right level of support to scale their ideas and prepare for further investment.

So it seems fitting that during Global Entrepreneurship Week, we announce an exciting new partnership with UnLtd – the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. Founded in 2002, UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK. Together, we’ve launched a call for applications from young people across the Think Big and UnLtd awards network, inviting them pitch for up to £10,000 investment to turn their fledgling projects into social businesses. We’re working together to create an ecosystem of support for young social entrepreneurs, including funding, advice, networking and practical support to power young people and help them realise their goals to develop sustainable businesses.

Cliff Prior, CEO of UnLtd, welcomed the partnership, saying: “It’s brilliant to be matching UnLtd’s world-leading expertise in supporting social entrepreneurs with Think Big’s excellent work inspiring young people to get started for social action. The talent of young social entrepreneurs is awesome, and this partnership will help them navigate the support on offer to make sure they achieve their full and fantastic potential.”

We’ll be announcing the first cohort of award winners in early December, and they’ll receive a package of training, coaching and digital support to grow. We’re hugely excited to harness the potential of our new partnership with UnLtd to make the UK more entrepreneurial and to encourage more young people to start up their own business.

To read more about the talented young entrepreneurs that have had a helping hand from Think Big, check out