Pioneered by the team at Social Enterprise Network, Liverpool SOUP is a new crowdfunding initiative to launch ideas for social change in the Liverpool City Region, says Christina Bodenes, from the Social Enterprise Network…

The concept is simple. Anyone can attend the monthly SOUP gatherings, and for a £10 entrance fee on the door, each attendee is entitled to soup, bread and most importantly, a vote. Four entrepreneurs then pitch their brightest business idea to the crowd, with an encouraged focus on tackling social and community issues. After a chance to ask questions and consider, each audience member casts their vote for the best pitch, and the winner walks away with the ticket profits from the evening, and the knowledge that complete strangers have just given them a vote of confidence. They then return three months later, to report on their progress, and for the possibility of further investment.

So what’s the big idea?

Whilst Liverpool has a unique economic and social landscape, there is no denying that there are two elements which make it ideal for the SOUP concept. It is home to both a thriving scene of independent and creative talent, and an abundance of social issues exacerbated by ongoing austerity measures. The SOUP format stirs these elements together, and lets the voting determine which of the ideas holds the most promise for the local community. Not a panel of experts, but the same people who have donated their time and money to come and listen. So it’s about seed funding, but possibly more importantly, it’s about grassroots democracy. Unlike other sources of funding, there’s no panel of experts, no financial forecasts and definitely no Powerpoint. The money goes to the entrepreneur whose idea resonates with that crowd, in that room, on that particular night. There’s an element of trust to this format which makes the SOUP process about co-operation and community in a way that just might launch a new way of funding good ideas in our region.

Key Details

The first Liverpool SOUP will take place on Wednesday 13th May 2015, 18.00-20.30, at the Hilton Hotel Liverpool. Food will be kindly provided by local social enterprise Can Cook. If you are interested in pitching at the first event, the application process is very simple; just email info@sen.org.uk requesting an application form. SENTogether welcomes applications from all types of entrepreneurs. If you would like to attend, tickets can be reserved on Eventbrite by clicking this link. There will be a small number of tickets available on the door, but booking in advance is strongly advised.

Christina Bodenes
Social Enterprise Network

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