Joel Davis, founder and Managing Director of social enterprise Tutors United, reflects on how what he learned in the Community Level Investment for Migrant Businesses (CLIMB) programme has changed the way he does business, leading to a Teach First Innovation Award.
Pitches, business plans, social impact measurement checks, financial health checks – it would be an understatement to say that the CLIMB programme had a rigorous selection process. What I initially thought was just a contest to win business support turned out to be a programme to develop the core of your social enterprise. Even better, the intended result was that you would be in a healthy position to pitch for contracts with Metropolitan Housing Association!
Initially, I wasn’t sure what the point would be. “What does a housing association want with private tutoring?” I wondered. “Wouldn’t they want a construction company, plumbers or electricians?” Whilst going through the CLIMB programme and looking deeper into the issues that Metropolitan deal with, it became apparent to me that Metropolitan’s residents would benefit from Tutors United. We’re a tutoring service which employs university students studying English and Maths degrees to provide affordable private tutoring to primary school pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Housing associations can provide so much more to their residents than just infrastructure, and we’re happy to help them do that.
Through tailoring my services to Metropolitan’s needs and getting support from The Young Foundation to develop and strengthen my business, I saw Tutors United become a supplier of services to Metropolitan Housing, with two contracts in Hackney and Lambeth. As a result, I found the CLIMB programme had an impact on Tutors United and myself which was greater than expected. We received office space in Clapham Park, access to ongoing legal support, two contracts, a profile in Lambeth to expand the enterprise and a unique selling point of working with housing associations. All of this would contribute to making Tutors United the Teach First Innovation Award Winner.
So to me, it’s clear that the endless pitches, financial forecasts and business planning within the programme contributed to Tutors United’s success in securing the support of the UK’s third biggest graduate employer and educational charity – Teach First. By winning the Innovation Award, Tutors United will be able to work closely with Teach First to rapidly scale up the delivery of our services across our target locations.
The CLIMB programme has been a catalyst in helping me to deliver my services over four boroughs and to widen my network of supporters and partners, including two housing associations..
All in all, I have gone through the CLIMB programme in seven months and developed a whole stream of partners for Tutors United, which I didn’t even think was possible.
Was this programme really worth the late night preparations, ongoing travelling to Lambeth and consistent organisational revision? The results have been priceless!