WINNER ‘Progress toward circularity’ Marie Claire Sustainability Awards 2023

Cambridge Social Ventures

Formalising our commitments to responsible business through Cambridge Social Ventures

Stack of folded textiles

In 2021 Yodomo joined the Cambridge University’s Social Venture Programme, part of the Cambridge Business School, as one of 11 supported SMEs to grow their businesses responsibly. For us, this was the perfect opportunity to investigate how to put the reuse of materials at the heart of our business. 

Cambridge Social Ventures supports a whole range of businesses that have positive social and environmental impacts. Established in 2014, a partnership between Allia, Cambridge Judge Business School, Foundation East and Keystone Trust. Funded by the UK Cabinet Office, in 2016, they became part of the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School. Their programmes, Social Venture Weekend and Social Venture Incubator, are designed for people who will drive their businesses forward to create real, lasting social or environmental change. 

As a limited company, we still wanted to retain our for-profit model but also wanted to grow the company responsibly. Crucially, we have taken early-stage investment from investors who are looking for a return on investment, and we are committed to delivering that return. Yodomo simultaneously wanted to commit to being a responsible business, and we believed that by having a clear purpose and embedded social mission, we are also more likely to succeed. Becoming a social venture will enable us to more effectively evaluate and measure the impact of our work as we grow.

Our primary goal on the Cambridge Social Ventures programme was to formalise our commitment to grow responsibly, whilst also assuring our commitment to our shareholders of growing the business. It wasn’t enough to suddenly declare ourselves a purpose-led business - we needed to understand what that meant to the business and its many stakeholders. 

As an early-stage business, we understood that embedding a social mission into our Articles of Association now would help us be accountable for responsible growth as we moved forward. We also anticipated that retro-fitting a social mission into our business at a later date could be more challenging.

As a result of this programme, we have pursued projects that align with our mission, developing our brand such that it is now recognisable as an innovator in sustainability.

Read more about our journey towards becoming a social venture here.