Having made it to the semi-finals of the Venture – Chivas Regal's US$1 million fund that supports socially-responsible business – NOW Money and its founder Katherine Budd has looked beyond the prize money to the future
NOW Money - the Gulf representative for the Venture – and its founder Katherine Budd is buoyant about the company's future, both in the region and beyond it.
"We already had a lot of local and international press exposure from when we first won the Gulf round of the Venture," said Budd, "that alone is really important for the business".
"Ultimately, we support business around the Middle East with their low-income staff payment solutions, as well as the individual workers in those businesses. It was the regional rounds that made the difference; we received a lot of press exposure for the business and that's only continued since."
The Chivas Venture is a global search for socially-responsible businesses that want to change the world, sponsored by Pernod-Ricard brand Chivas Regal. Now in its third year, the competition has received almost 6,000 applications from start-ups around the world. So far it has donated US$2 million in financial support, which to date has touched over 300,000 beneficiaries in more than 40 countries.
Businesses that concern themselves with social-good are few and far between with the region. But that's because the concept is just getting started. "It's much more of a topic now than it was a couple of years ago," admits Budd. "There are lots of fantastic initiatives just coming into the market, that really support local entrepreneurs in this way. There's much more of this happening now then there was a few years ago."
The winner of this year's event was Thailand's Siam Organic, which aims to end small-scale farmer's poverty. It walked away with the largest contribution from The Chivas Venture fund, US$400,000.
"Unfortunately, we didn't make it to the final," said Budd, "but it hasn't been about the cash prize for us because we've made so many amazing relationships here at the Venture. Not just with the contestants, but the judges here have already made some excellent connections for us in terms of networking and mentoring."
"There are many people from a financial inclusion background that we've talked to, and many of them have offered their services from an international perspective. We couldn't have hoped for any more."