1b. Sainsbury's Launch Instagram

Source: Sainsbury’s

The incubator programme will see up to five breakthrough brands hit Sainsbury’s shelves in 2023

Sainsbury’s is launching a £1m incubator programme for black-led start-up businesses to help ethnic minorities overcome industry obstacles.

The supermarket is pledging to support entrepreneurial food and drink businesses “seeking to grow but facing one of many barriers that might be holding them back” with the free 16-week ‘Thrive with Sainsbury’s’ scheme.

“Whether it’s inadequate funding, lack of social capital and networks, or limited industry knowledge and expertise, it’s tough launching a new brand on such a large scale without access to the right support, and these challenges are often felt even more acutely by black and ethnic minority business owners,” the company said.

“Thrive with Sainsbury’s has been designed specifically to help address these obstacles, offering a bespoke programme of support delivered by expert partners.”

Sainsbury’s will pick nine successful applicants to receive a welcome grant of £20,000 each, as well as practical one-to-one support and group learning opportunities during their transition to supermarket shelves.

There will then be additional funding available at various stages throughout the process, up to the value of £105,000, for each brand that manages to bag a Sainsbury’s listing.

Up to five breakthrough black-led brands will end up hitting shelves in 2023.

Sainsbury’s grocery innovation director Silika Shellie-Manso said: “A key focus of our Win in Food strategy is to bring innovation to our customers and at Sainsbury’s we’ve always been passionate about seeking out new or emerging brands.

“As an inclusive retailer, we believe that to offer great food and drink for everyone, it should be made by everyone.”

Thrive with Sainsbury’s, which is run in partnership with Foundervine and Mission Ventures, is open to any food and drink business that’s been founded by “a person who identifies as being of black ethnicity or heritage”.

“We know that despite the strength of ideas and potential amongst black founders, often opportunities and success can be hindered by ethnicity, which is why we are starting with this group of the most underrepresented founders first,” Shellie-Manso said.

Successful candidates must have new products tailored for the retailer’s customer base, as well as a vision for scaling up their business in the future.

“Our hope is that this will help them grow and successfully sustain their brands and businesses,” Shellie-Manso added.

“It’s a new approach for us and our hope is that it will drive both meaningful change within the retail sector, while also enabling us to bring more innovation and a broader range of product to our customers.”

The programme is part of the company’s ambitions to become a more inclusive business. Applications close on 16 August 2022.