On the weekend of the 3rd of November 2018, international brand Red Bull officially launched its Red Bull Amaphiko Connect global initiative in the UK, aimed at providing a platform and mentorship to the next generation of enterprising social innovators from diverse backgrounds who are currently working on ideas that will make a difference to their communities, at a local level and beyond.
Pronounced ‘Ama-pi-coh’, which in the Zulu language translates as ‘wings’, the initiative has been running in South Africa since 2014 and was brought to the UK this autumn, with weekend bootcamps in Glasgow, Bradford and London. The UK initiative will see up to 90 talented young social entrepreneurs selected to be exclusively mentored and developed by some of the brightest thought leaders and visionaries across various sectors of business and the creative industry. The programme can count Bisi Akins, founder of the Young Gifted Initiative and Sade Brown, founder of Sour Lemons as mentors, amongst others.
Red Bull has described their general brand mission as ‘give wings to people and ideas’, bringing this mission to the social impact space four years ago, with the creation of Red Bull Amaphiko. According to Red Bull, Amaphiko has already supported over 120 social ventures globally and is home to more than 450 social projects. With the breadth of underrepresented diverse talent looking for a break in the UK creative industries, bringing Amaphiko to the UK will no doubt further this mission.
One individual who has been particularly instrumental in opening doors to the creative industries for diverse talent over the last few years through the initiative that she founded, Social Fixt, is the fantastically-named Mercedes Benson – Influencer, DJ, and Brand Manager for Complex. Through Mercedes’ guidance and management, Social Fixt has a network of thousands of individuals and has been responsible for helping hundreds of diverse creatives secure roles and opportunities.
As one of the successful Amaphiko Connect candidates, GUAP briefly caught up with Mercedes, to ask for her thoughts on the programme and where she sees Social Fixt going in the next few years.
Aji: Hi Mercedes. How are you feeling this week – what’s new?
Mercedes: Feeling positive. Nothing much is new – just work and the countdown to Christmas.
Aji: Getting straight into it – how did you find the Amaphiko Connect London bootcamp?
Mercedes: Super insightful. Not just because I was surrounded by other social enterprise entrepreneurs who are going to be future leaders in their own particular niche, but also as it allowed me to go into depth as to why I want to start Social Fixt as a social enterprise and why I’d be able to apply a business model to it. IT used to be more of a passion project – now I have a deeper understanding of legal entities; how to seek funding; how to pitch effectively. These are all skills that the Bootcamp taught me and I’m really grateful for that.
Aji: Interesting. Tell me more about how Social Fixt and how it started.
Mercedes: Social Fixt is a recruitment platform that aims to connect BAME talent into the creative industries by providing them with job opportunities; event opportunities; workshops; and resources that allow them to be the best candidates for the job.
It started off out of personal frustration – it sucked being the only woman in my department at the time and seeing BAME talent sparsely stretched across six floors of a building. It’s not only about having BAME societies and Afro-Caribbean Societies, but about actually hiring more BAME talent and that recruiters and agencies are actually actively seeking to tap into the diverse communities directly and not merely relying on algorithms to fix their diversity issues. It requires a hands-on approach – this is what Social Fixt is aiming to do.
Aji: That’s great – I’m in the group myself and have found it really useful. When you started Social Fixt, did you see it becoming what it has become?
Mercedes: When I started Social Fixt, it was literally just me posting job opportunities online – I would post on Twitter and get amazing reactions and get so many CVs and emails sent my way which I would manually pass on. I had the idea of Social Fixt as an entity years ago; I just didn’t yet know what community-focused entity I would create from it.
It just seemed to fit using social media to fix a problem affecting society, recruitment and diversity all at the same time. It started in May 2017 and by seeing our combined social media presence grow to a combined following of around 9000 just demonstrates that there is demand. I just want to help and facilitate growth and development in the community as much as I can.
Aji: What is next for Social Fixt and for you?
Mercedes: What is next for Social Fixt is to build a functioning tech based platform that connects the talent to the recruiters in a really succinct and efficient way. We’re building a website – we want to do more events in 2019; want to collaborate with more brands and more global entities and change the perception of diversity in the workplace. We want more faces in the building, so Social Fixt and I are going to do everything that we can to make it happen.
Social Fixt alongside the other 90 or so businesses represented on the 2018 UK Red Bull Amaphiko Connect programme will join the 100,000+ other social enterprises within the UK; who according to the Hidden Revolution Report, already contribute around £60 billion to the UK economy. Social Fixt is not alone in what it does, but taking that all important step to take things to the next level and to officially become a social enterprise demonstrates a real commitment to social change. I have no doubt that the ripple effect caused by the decision of each of the social entrepreneurs on the Amaphiko Connect programme to make that step into pursuing social entrepreneurship will spread the social impact of each venture far and wide.
Read more about the Red Bull Amaphiko Connect programme here.
Creatives – you can keep up with Social Fixt by following them at @Social Fixt. To request to join the Social Fixt Facebook group, click here.
For information on other initiatives like Social Fixt, contact us.