WHAT IS WAYRA FAIR BY DESIGN?

Wayra Fair By Design is a new acceleration programme that will tackle the poverty premium: where people in poverty pay more for many everyday goods and services – such as energy, insurance, borrowing, transport and food – than those who can more easily afford them.

The programme, which will be based in Wayra’s Open Future_ North facility in Oldham, will support up to seven start-ups a year.

Start-ups accepted to the programme will receive the equivalent of £70,000 in cash and business services, including working space at Open Future_ North and access to investors, mentors and coaches – and also potentially to a global audience through business development opportunities with Telefónica.

Through the new programme and accelerator, Wayra UK will support grassroots entrepreneurship in Greater Manchester and attract start-up talent, investment and business mentors from outside of the region.

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.

The fund has £8 million ready to deploy and is seeking to raise up to £20 million to invest into companies tackling the poverty premium, both within the accelerator and in separate investments across the UK.

Areas of Interest

The Wayra Fair By Design Program will invest in and accelerate start-ups tackling the poverty premium in the UK, across selected focus areas:

Energy

In most homes, energy is used for heating, cooking, lighting, electrical products, and heating water, with heating responsible for most energy consumption in the home. Low-income households often pay more for the energy they use, for example, through pay-as-you-go meters or by not switching suppliers.

Finance

This area is focused on the problem lower-income consumers have accessing money and the management of everyday credit and savings. Everyone requires access to credit at various times and in differing amounts, especially low-income consumers, due to their smaller income and lack of savings. Often, low-income consumers pay more for their financial services, such as pay-day loans and cashing cheques early.

Insurance

This strand will tackle the problem lower-income consumers have accessing insurance. For example, there are few ‘no-frills’ insurance products suitable for low-income consumers. These consumers often also live in deprived areas, which may also be higher crime areas, and therefore might incur higher insurance premiums – there is crossover with the geo-based premiums below.

Geo-based

This extra cost covers a wide basket of premiums that are imposed, or difficult to prevent, due to someone’s geographic residence. This includes food, insurance, transport, though this list is not exhaustive. Digital Exclusion can be included in this category; low-income consumers may not have access to the Internet, or be confident using it, making them unable to access online services to reduce household costs. This could range from shopping online to comparing insurance and energy products.

What we offer

If you have a business or an idea that uses technology to solve the problems of the future, Wayra is your place to make it grow.

Partnerships

60 strategic partnerships across the world enhance opportunities for startups

Our investor network

Wayra’s investor network provides opportunities and helps businesses scale

Telefónica business development

Telefónica’s network consists of 300m customers across 17 countries

Coaches

Coaches provide in-depth business advice across a wide variety of topics

Masterclasses

Significant skills development through our ongoing masterclasses

Wayra’s investment

Our acceleration programme provides funding up to £70,000 in cash and equivalent business services

Dedicated mentors

Our mentor network provides helpful guidance throughout acceleration

1:1

One-on-ones help each start-up develop their business further

FAQ

What is Wayra Fair By Design?

Wayra Fair By Design is a new acceleration programme, run by Wayra UK – part of Telefónica Open Future_.

The programme will support start-ups seeking to tackle the poverty premium – where people from low-income households pay higher prices for many essential goods and services such as energy, insurance, borrowing, transport and food.

Under the programme, up to seven tech start-ups a year will be based in Wayra UK’s new Open Future_ North accelerator in Oldham.

The programme is backed by a new investment fund that has £8m ready to deploy and is seeking to raise up to £20m.

Who is behind the fund?

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

What is the poverty premium?

The poverty premium means it costs more to be poor. People in poverty pay more for many everyday goods and services – such as energy, insurance, borrowing, transport and food – than those who can more easily afford them.

For example, people in low-income households can be reliant on expensive, high interest pay-day or doorstep loans because of a lack of assets, lack of information to generate a credit score, or a poor credit rating. The accelerator programme could support tech start-ups developing solutions that open up more affordable credit options.

Why is the partnership focusing on tackling the poverty premium?

The poverty premium is a serious problem facing society. It is unfair that people on low-incomes pay more for some services than those who can more easily afford them.

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.

Tech is having a disruptive effect on society, not least on employment – tech advances could ultimately lead to many jobs becoming automated. If society is to feel the benefits of tech, we must ensure that we use tech positively – for example, in relieving aspects of the poverty premium.

Why do you have credibility?

The partners behind the fund have considerable expertise that is being brought together to tackle this issue.

Wayra UK is one of the country’s leading tech accelerators and is part of the world’s largest corporate acceleration network, and a subsidiary of Telefónica.

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation is one of the country’s leading organisations tackling poverty, while Big Society Capital, Ascension Ventures and Finance Birmingham are well-established investors with long-standing interests in the ethical entrepreneurship field.

Why has Oldham been chosen as the location for the programme?

Oldham is an ideal site for tech sector development, given the town’s young and diverse population, investment in regional infrastructure projects, passionate local business leaders and direct transport links to Manchester. Wayra has an excellent relationship with Oldham Council and is inspired by their passion for tech development.

What is the geographical area of the Wayra Fair By Design Programme?

The tech accelerator is based in Oldham but welcomes applicants from anywhere in the UK – or beyond. The fund can invest in any UK-based business.

What is the timeframe for the fund?

The Fair By Design Fund will spend the next 5 years investing in companies seeking loans and equity funding from Seed through to Series A and beyond, and will share Ascension Ventures and Finance Birmingham’s co-investment philosophy, seeking deal-flow and co-investment opportunities from other funds, VC’s and angel investors.

Wayra Fair By Design will be a 3-year programme, looking to accelerate 18-20 companies across 3 different cohorts (6-7 companies per year).

How can companies apply?

The call for companies will be open very soon, but until then entrepreneurs can register their interest below.

Why should companies apply?

Start-ups accepted to the programme will receive the equivalent of £70,000 in cash and business services, including access to a state-of-the-art co-working space in Oldham, Greater Manchester, and contact with unparalleled expertise and an unsurpassed network of investors, mentors and coaches – and also potentially to Telefónica’s 300 million customers worldwide through business development opportunities with Telefónica.

The programme is backed by a sizeable fund managed by world-class investors, making it attractive for entrepreneurs seeking to scale their businesses.

How does this scheme differ from other start-up support available?

Start-ups selected for Wayra Fair By Design will join the world’s leading corporate accelerator network – Wayra – and will have access to the expertise and networks of the funding partners.

For an entrepreneur seeking to develop an ethical tech start-up in the UK, this is the opportunity with the best support – both in financial and business terms – that has ever been made available.

What type of companies are you looking for?

We’re looking for start-ups that can demonstrate the potential to scale and to reduce aspects of the poverty premium – whether these are energy, finance, insurance, digital exclusion, or geo-based.

Will companies be required to licence or transfer any of their Intellectual Property to Wayra?

No. By participating in the programme companies do not give away any rights to their IP whatsoever.

Will there be any equity investment in the companies?

As part of the programme the companies will issue a convertible loan note to the Fair By Design Fund and Wayra in respect of the cash investment and support and services provided. This loan note will convert into an equity investment of between 7% and 10% at some point in the future – dependent upon further raising of funds by the company.

Will further investment be offered to the start-ups?

Ascension Ventures, the manager of the Fair By Design Fund, will be heavily involved in the Wayra Fair By Design programme and may offer startups that show successful traction during the programme Seed or Series A funding via the Fair By Design Fund. Ascension has directly follow-on invested in 8 Wayra companies in recent years.

What’s the difference between this programme and what else is going on in Open Future_ North?

Other companies in Open Future_ North are there on a pre-acceleration basis, and have not been invested in by Wayra UK or received any cash equivalent.

Are teams expected to be in the accelerator throughout the time of the programme?

A senior decision-maker from the company must be present in the office for at least three days per week – from Tuesday to Thursday – to take full advantage of the opportunities on offer.

What will be available within the accelerator facility?

The facilities available will be consistent with our aspiration of giving the start-ups the best possible support and includes a physical space from which to operate from, high-quality IT, and a range of expert business and technical support.

This includes access to Wayra UK’s network of investors, coaches and mentors, and training in entrepreneurship and business; and access to Telefónica’s network of 300m customers across 17 countries through business development opportunities with Telefonica. It also includes access to the networks of the partner organisations.

What happens after the programme ends?

Wayra UK has an active alumni community, who return each month to provide updates and take full advantage of the networking opportunities available at many of Wayra’s events.

REGISTER YOUR INTEREST FOR THE PROGRAMME