Winning Businesses Announced for Instagram SME Mentorship Programme

The five winning businesses for the Instagram Small Business Mentorship Programme have been announced. Find out more about these rising stars here.

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After a nationwide search that attracted more than 500 entries, Instagram and Small Business Britain have selected five inspirational businesses as the winners of their Small Business Mentorship Programme.

These businesses cover a diverse range of sectors – everything from children’s books to fashion – and are testament to the creativity and resilience that small businesses have displayed during an unprecedented 18 months.

Each of the winners also addresses a social issue, including sustainability, diversity, representation and education.

These businesses are testament to the creativity and resilience that small businesses have displayed during an unprecedented 18 months

Who are the winners?

The winning businesses are:


Founded by Csilla Szabo, Boki is a plastic-free eco-friendly brand that produces a wide range of uniquely designed affordable products.

Aiming to become the “go-to green brand”, Boki offers sustainable clothes, tote bags, home decor and homeware items, all infused with Csilla’s distinctive personality.


Started and run by Nathaniel Wade and Alber Later, Wakuda is an online marketplace that allows people to discover black-owned businesses in the UK. A powerful response to the UK Black Lives Matter protests, Wakuda aims to address the lack of support of UK black-owned businesses.

As Wade told us a few weeks ago, “black-owned businesses have historically been underrepresented in the UK, and Wakuda was created as a means to transform access to black-owned businesses and the creative talents of the black community”.

To learn more about Wakuda, check out our guide to the best ecommerce marketplace for small businesses.

Cucumber Clothing

The brainchild of Eileen Willett and Nancy Zeffman, two friends who met at the school gates 20 years ago, Cucumber Clothing is a slow fashion brand with impeccable sustainability credentials.

Every collection is designed, sampled, manufactured, graded and warehoused within a five-mile radius of the pair’s London homes, and Cucumber’s cutting-edge fabrics last up to six times longer than cotton and require minimal washing, ironing and drying.

Philly and Friends

Vese Aghoghovbia-Aladewolu started Philly and Friends following the birth of her daughter Philly, determined to create products that Philly could see herself in.

This award-winning black-owned business aims to “add a drop of colour in the sea of children’s products” and creates beautifully illustrated keepsake books, dolls, wall art and affirmation cards.

Blacksmith London

Founded by Danial Naqvi, Blacksmith London is a unisex jewellery brand that creates premium pieces with lifetime durability.

Making a positive social impact is the ethos at the heart of this business – Blacksmith partners with individuals and organisations from minority backgrounds and donates 5% of every sale to youth mental health charity YoungMinds.

What do the winners get?

For the winning businesses, the prizes are:

  • A content workshop afternoon with one of the UK’s top Instagram creators, in order to jointly develop a three-month Instagram content plan.
  • An hour-long virtual coaching session with business mentor Emma Mills-Sheffield.
  • Three monthly hour-long sessions with an Instagram product expert on how to best use Instagram for business.
  • £1,000 worth of Instagram ad credits.

How can I get help with my business Instagram?

There are some top tips on how you should use Instagram to promote your business in our social media marketing guide and, for more great insight, head to the official Instagram for Business page.

Written by:
Alec is Startups’ resident expert on politics and finance. He’s provided live updates on the budget, written guides on investing and property development, and demystified topics like corporation tax, accounting software, and invoice discounting. Before joining, he worked in the media for over a decade, conducting media analysis at Kantar Media and YouGov, and writing a wide variety of freelance pieces.

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