A new Oldham-based tech accelerator wants to help start-ups help the poor

Based in the Open Future_ North accelerator, Wayra Fair By Design will help seven tech start-ups a year fight 'poverty premium' and hopes to raise £20m

A new Oldham-based tech accelerator is looking for innovative start-ups that want to help fight the UK’s ‘poverty premium’ problem.

Already backed by £8m, and hoping to raise as much as £20m, Wayra Fair By Design will support seven start-ups a year in the new Open Future_ North accelerator.

A growing problem in the UK, the ‘poverty premium’ currently sees those from low-income households pay more for essential goods such as food and energy, as well as insurance, transport and borrowing.

With a lower credit score than average earners, or even a non-existent one, those just above or on the poverty line are more susceptible to loan sharks or payday loan companies with excessive APR.

As a result, its suggested that start-ups who could help create more accessible credit options for low-income earners would be “ideal candidates for the accelerator programme.”

Businesses who are granted a place on the programme will receive approximately £70,000 in cash and services, plus bespoke support from world-class investors, mentors and coaches and opportunities to work with Telefónica and its partners.

Wayra Fair By Design will be funded and supported by the Fair By Design Fund, a partnership between Big Society Capital, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Finance Birmingham and Ascension Ventures.

A 2016 report by the University of Bristol revealed that the poverty premium paid by low-income families is, on average, £490 per year – enough for a family holiday, children’s clothes and shoes, or keeping a house warm in winter. According to Joseph Rowntree Foundation research, one-fifth of the UK’s population is living in poverty.

Gary Stewart, director of Wayra UK, said:

“It should not cost more to be poor. 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.

“We are eager to work with start-ups to make real progress in the battle against inequality.”

Jean Stretton, Oldham Council leader said:

“I’m delighted that this fantastic facility is now officially open, it’s looking great and there’s a real creative feel to the place.

“It’s so important that we help local, grassroots entrepreneurs and this new venture will bring together the talent, inspiration and investment needed to create a launch pad for new businesses, as well as energising and supporting the local economy.”

Thinking of starting a business in Manchester? Click here and read about the ‘Shoreditch of the North’.

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