#ProfitWithPurpose in the Northern Powerhouse

November 14, 2022

This November, we welcomed grantees, change-makers and funders alike to our first flagship event in Manchester. We came in the hope of igniting conversations on the work we’re doing within the Northern Powerhouse. Profit with Purpose: Good for Society, Good for Business was hosted at University of Manchester’s Christie Building.

Our event celebrated the launch of our newest initiative. We’re bringing our “venture capital style” grant investment model to the North West. With kind help from LCM Family Limited, GMCVO and Lord Jim O’Neill, we’ll be accelerating growth for Greater Manchester’s most innovative small charities, with our brand new “Green Shoots” fund. 

Green Shoots project is our new vision for a collaborative hub. We’ll be connecting exceptional, grassroots organisations with the investment and skills they need to drive social change, on the ground in Greater Manchester. With 17,000 charities existing in this area, not to mention countless CICs and other social impact organisations, we’re aware of a groundswell of people in the region doing brilliant work. We’ll be seeking to fund 3 organisations, choosing those we can help best with transformative impact. We’ll be announcing the successful grantees by the end of November 2022.  

“Our purpose in having this event was really very simple. And life is just a series of conversations, what I’d ask is that they don’t stop here, because they can be the start of something really special. I really believe that anything in this world is possible, when you start out with mission and purpose and surround yourself with the right people. The big charities do a lot of stuff, but it’s the small ones that transform society.”

Mike Tye, Chair of The Fore 

We started the evening with a discussion chaired by Mary Rose Gunn, CEO of The Fore. The conversation spanned from B Corporations to lived experiences, and the prevalence of environmental activism in the news. Our speakers agreed that people are realising more widely the need for profit and purpose to be embedded in business. Our panellists also shared how they embody this throughout their own work. 

Christopher Kenna is a Manchester bred serial entrepreneur. Sharing his story on the night, Chris spoke on growing up in the local care system, and of the teachers and social workers who were instrumental in fostering his self-belief.  

“It’s our duty to do something to help someone that leaves a better world for tomorrow than it was today…I like acronyms – DMTR – do it, whatever it is, just go out and do it, don’t wait for permission. Mean it, whatever it is, change your culture and get involved. Train it to other people. Repeat it again. A word that gets thrown around is authenticity, but that comes from showing up every day.”

Christopher Kenna 

Chris initially served in Afghanistan, before setting up two successful media agencies. A champion of representation, his experiences as a proud, Black gay man encouraged him to set up advertising company Brand Advance. The company is now industry leading, assisting the world’s biggest brands to connect with diverse communities with authenticity, and at scale. Chris is also on the advisory boards for TikTok, ITV, London Metropolitan Police Force and the V&A. 

Isabel Kelly and John Quinton-Barber also brought up the expectations that younger generations have on their employers to be more responsible. Since her first jobs at Oxfam and Amnesty International, Isabel has focused on social justice and making an impact using the resources of the non-profit and business worlds. She is Founder at Profit with Purpose, offering services to companies who want to use their resources for good. 

“As there is a new generation of people coming into leadership roles, it’s built into businesses…DEI, gender pay gap disparity and thinking of the earth, and that challenges some of the more traditional thinking.”

Isabel Kelly 

John shared his self-employment journey. From founding a business out of survival after gaining one O Level in school, his adventures saw him become a gig bootlegger, gardener, and then eventually founder and CEO of Social Group. Established in 2013, his company is one of the fastest growing and most forward-thinking PR agencies in the UK today.  

“Shout more about purpose. Talk about your purpose and don’t be shy. There’s a revolution and we’re part of it.”

John Quinton-Barber 

John has adapted his business over time to become more purpose driven. Social Group now support organisations to tell their story around socially responsible investment, and purpose driven finance. 

Architect of the Northern Powerhouse concept, Lord Jim O’Neill has also been pivotal in supporting our new regional outreach fund. The respected British economist was our final speaker for the evening. Lord Jim shared that the Northern powerhouse as a concept was conceived two days before Brexit vote, and though it was committed to in 2016, that its success will depend on those in the region working together to realise it.  

“The thing with the Northern Powerhouse was not to depend too much on the government of today. We can’t take stability for granted. And that’s something relevant to The Fore’s wonderful mission and what they’re trying to achieve…  

What The Fore is trying to do in Greater Manchester is so, so important, if you look at the index areas of greatest deprivation, four of them are in Greater Manchester. The absolute level of challenge – to solve some deep-seated issues – is considerable. There is a lot to be done, but there are signs of progress “

Lord Jim O’Neill 

We had over 100 expressions of interest for the first round of our Green Shoots fund. 30 applicants received bespoke strategic advice and 3 will be awarded funding on Friday 18th November.  

We’ll opening for next funding round early in 2023.  

Four ways to get involved: 

  1. Donate to The Fore today via our website, or if you’re a business, family fund or philanthropist: get in touch with helen@thefore.org to discuss ongoing funding partnerships. https://thefore.org/the-fore-donation-form/ 
  1.  Join our network to share your skills. Sign up for our mailing list here, or email probono@thefore.org
  1. Apply to be one our Strategic Applicant Consultants. See our site for full details [https://thefore.org/vacancies-at-the-fore/], and email your CV to info@thefore.org to express interest. 
  1. Contribute to the conversation using the hashtag #ProfitWithPurposeGM. You can tag our social accounts for any posts @theforetrust on Twitter, @theforetrust_ on Instagram, and @The Fore on LinkedIn. 

At The Fore we find, empower and accelerate innovative young charities and social enterprises working on some of today’s hardest challenges. Find out more at www.thefore.org 

We’d like to thank our panellists Chris Kenna, Isabel Kelly, John Quinton Barber, and Lord Jim O’Neill. We’d also like to extend our thanks to LCM Family Limited. As well as hosting and organising Tuesday’s event, LCM Family have been instrumental in realising Green Shoots.