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Big Issue Invest, UnLtd strike £500,000 debt deal to empower UK neurodivergent workforce

Published: 15 March 2024

The investment will boost specialist employment provider Genius Within’s mission to further develop its online assessment tool for workers and employers.

Genius Within team
The Genius Within team (pictured) has supported over 24,000 neurodivergent people in the workplace in the last 12 months | Photo by Genius Within

The Growth Impact Fund, a social impact investment fund developed by Big Issue Invest and UnLtd, announced its first debt investment of £500,000 (€427,114) in Genius Within.

The money will be used by Genius Within, a specialist employment and training provider, to further develop an online assessment tool (Genius Finder), which helps neurodivergent workers and their employers to identify their most common work-related strengths and weaknesses.

It is estimated more than 15% of the UK population are neurodiverse, with 40% saying their condition is having an impact on their working life.

“This investment from the Growth Impact Fund will allow us to think big, scale up our delivery, whilst remaining true to our core mission to maximise the potential of all neurodivergent people, and the organisations that employ them,” said Jacqui Wallis, chief executive officer of Genius Within.

“Genius Within is a testament to the unique insights and expertise that entrepreneurs with lived experience possess in relation to their work,” said Sarah Faber, investment director for the fund at Big Issue Invest.

‘Systemic inclusion’

Founded in 2011 by Nancy Doyle, a visiting professor to Birkbeck College, University of London, Genius Within has supported over 24,000 people in the last 12 months.

“At Genius Within our goal is to show employers what systemic inclusion looks like for neurodivergent people and to help them achieve that,” said Wallis.

“With over a decade working one-on-one and in groups with clients, and consulting with businesses of all sizes, we identified a common set of issues wherever we went. We created the Genius Finder tool to signpost solutions, remove barriers, and bring immediate accessible help to more workplaces.”

Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue Group, which publishes the eponymous street newspaper, currently manages or advises on over £470m of impact funds. It offers loans and investments ranging from £20,000 to £4m to social enterprises and charities across the UK. Since its foundation in 2005, it has provided over £80m in impact loans to more than 550 social enterprises. Its investors include Bank of America, Macquarie, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and the University of Edinburgh.

UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, supports social entrepreneurs tackling the key issues facing society. Since 2002, it has invested close to £95m in more than 15,600 social entrepreneurs. 

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