In a massive boost to our ongoing expansion plans, we have secured £1.5 million in funding, which will be used to hire key staff and make technology upgrades that will allow us to scale our operations and our impact. We work to tackle social exclusion by upskilling vulnerable people with limited technological skills, and providing them with the essential digital and financial training they need to enhance their everyday lives in an increasingly digitised world.More than 12.6 million people in the UK lack essential digital skills, the highest proportion of whom are the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society. In addition, approximately 40% of UK adults are identified as not in control of their finances and “living on the financial edge”, and 11.5 million adults in the UK have less than £100 in savings.
As a company, we help bridge this divide through digital and financial training as a service to housing associations, councils, corporates and central government. Through our UK-wide network of outreach tutors and delivery partners, controlled centrally from the head office in the Midlands, we are able to provide high-quality personal training, both in-home and locally delivered in community locations. We have already provided community investment support to over 100 clients, including running national and regional programmes through our “managing agent” model.
Our solution comes at a time when government departments, banks and the entire social housing sector (2,000 providers – 4.6 million homes) are undergoing a huge shift towards the digitisation of processes and applications, helping customers to save money and improving resident lives.
With the help of some of the best-known social impact investors in Europe, our round was oversubscribed by 50%, led by VCs Si2 Fund, Triplepoint and Ascension Ventures. Also, in the round is Wayra UK and Clearly So, Europe’s leading impact investment bank (through its extensive network of high-net-worth individual and institutional investors). Early investors were also exited within the round.
Matthew Adam, founder and Chief Executive of the company, stated: “After a lot of hard work, I’m massively excited to close our round. We continue to grow at 100% per year and winning increasingly bigger contracts where we are applying our innovations to community investment support across the UK. As a social business, I’m proud to now have onboard some of the best social impact investors in the sector, who will help us scale even further over the next six years. I also want to thank our early angel investors and Midven, without both of whom we would not be where we are now.”
SI2 Fund manager, Pieter Oostlander, mentioned: “We Are Digital perfectly fits the SI2 Fund portfolio as it uses a very innovative business model to address a pressing societal issue. We are excited to help We Are Digital expand in the UK and beyond, hence scaling its impact.”
Julian Pickstone, Fund Manager of Triple Point, said:” We are delighted to be working with We are Digital. We believe that the company can make a significant contribution to bridging the digital gap.”
Emma Steele, Investment Manager of Ascension Ventures (Fair By Design), mentioned “From their time on the Wayra UK Fair By Design accelerator to now, we have been impressed by We Are Digital’s approach to digital and financial inclusion. We delighted to be able to support its growth plans in tackling a core underlying driver of the Poverty Premium in the UK.”
Matias Wibowo, Investment Director at ClearlySo, commented: “This transaction demonstrates impact investment’s central role in realising the ideal of the Big Society. We Are Digital (WAD) provides services that the public desperately needs at better quality while being more affordable. WAD aligns the interests and enhances the outcomes for multiple stakeholders, including investors. That’s why our investors gladly backed this transaction.”
Gary Stewart, Director of Wayra UK and Telefónica Open Future in the UK, said: “From launching the UK’s first social accelerator programme, to investing in pioneering companies such as We Are Digital – Wayra UK has a proud history in nurturing innovative businesses that create a positive societal impact. The investment that Matthew and the team have secured demonstrates the value being placed in social businesses across the country and is a testament to the efforts they’ve put in to date. I look forward to seeing what they achieve in future.”