SoFab is a Gloucester-based sports retailer which sells football kits and sports equipment but also helps young people with disabilities to find employment.

The venture recently received investment from UnLtd and now can use the funds to grow the business and increase the number of opportunities available for the young people in the area.

SoFab Sports was founded in 2012 in order to help transform lives of young people with learning and physical disabilities as well as the society’s perception of the group. Since then, the innovative sports retailer helped numerous young people to gain employment, adding work experience and skills on their CV and helping them to shape a better future.

Sports retailer that helps disabled people find employment is chosen as a first investment by the UnLtd Impact Fund

The company currently has only one shop in the area but intends to use the new funds to grow their presence in the region and build a stronger brand. £98,500 in funds will be used to scale the social impact of SoFab Sports through the purchase of new stocks and opening of additional premises.

Apart from their retail activities, SoFab sports also runs the UK’s largest inclusive football team.

“Just 46% of working-age disabled people are in work, compared to 76% of non-disabled people. There’s been no shift in this ratio since 2008, so we think the system needs to change,” said Date Rawlins, founder of SoFab Sports. “The UnLtd Impact Fund investment will allow us to make this change happen and further advocate for wage incentives and the removal of the barriers stopping disabled people finding employment.”

UnLtd Impact Fund is funded through the Growth Fund, which is managed by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment with funding from the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital. The fund was launched last year to help overcome the problem with the ‘missing middle’ of social finance. The UnLtd Fund aims to bridge this gap through the provision of capital and investment. Its primary focus is on ventures that help increase access to employment. The fund plans to invest in over 35 ventures over the next three years, offering access to an investment of £50,000 to £150,000 to the chosen ventures.

‘’The Impact Fund is at the very heart of what we do here at UnLtd – helping social entrepreneurs overcome barriers to deliver lasting social impact,” said Mark Norbury, UnLtd CEO. “Investing in Sofab Sports made absolute sense on so many levels because they are doing such incredible, pioneering work to transform the job market for disabled people.”

UnLtd hosted events for social ventures in Bradford and London during May to find out more about the investment and opportunities available. The next event is going to pop up in Birmingham on 12 June. Interested parties can find out more on the UnLtd website or via Twitter.

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