SJL Foundation launches nationwide competition to give 8 finalists in Great Britain the chance to get a free £2,000 business grant and mentorship, plus to pitch their business idea in the House of Commons

Posted: 9th September 2019

Our fab WiRE amabassador Lisa Davies has passed on this press release to circulate across the WiRE network. Please have a read, especially if you are at the “Start-Up” phase of your business or you know of anyone within your network who might be. Please note that WiRE are not directly linked to this opportunity.

  • Closing date for entries is Monday 30 September 2019
  • The SJL Foundation competition final will be on Tuesday 22 October 2019 in the House of Commons


9 September 2019, UK: The SJL Foundation (charity) is today launching a new initiative to substantially help someone set up their own business or someone with a new business start-up aged one year old or less. People from all walks of life can enter to get a chance of winning a free grant of £2,000, one hour with successful insurance entrepreneur Simon Lancaster and get mentored by SJL.


Eight finalists will give a five-minute pitch to a panel of four and an audience of 100 guests in the prestigious House of Commons as to why their business should win a grant. All eight finalists are in with a chance of winning a £2,000 grant each if their pitch at the House of Commons is good enough, or the judges may decide on less winners. The SJL Foundation aims to give 45% of all proceeds to the business start-up fund, of which it hopes to put at least £45,000 towards that in year one.

To enter the competition, entrants need to email to ask for an application form. The form will be emailed to entrants and applicants will have to answer 8 questions on the form. Each competition entrant must also submit a three minute video of themselves saying what their business activity does, and how they’d spend the £2,000 grant and how they’d benefit from mentorship. The closing date for entries is the 30th of September 2019. All applicants must be available to travel to London on the 21st of October 2019 and stay overnight, if travel the night before is required due to an early start the next morning, ready to be at the event in the House of Commons on Tuesday 22 October between 0830am-1030am, if they are chosen as a successful finalist. All applicants must be 18 years old or over.


There will be four judges on the panel consisting of Simon Lancaster, Trustee of the SJL Foundation and founder and CEO of SJL Insurance – one of the UK’s largest owner-owned insurance brokers registered with Lloyds of London, Kerry Hopkins, a Public Relations professional who’s PR’d some of the biggest corporations in the world and is now chief executive of public relations agency Baron & Hopkins, and the other two judges will be announced in due course.


MP Robin Walker, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State serving jointly between the Scotland Office and the Northern Ireland Office in the UK Government is hosting the breakfast reception at the House of Commons on behalf of the SJL Foundation.


Simon Lancaster, Trustee, SJL Foundation said: ‘’I am incredibly excited about what the SJL Foundation’s business start-up arm can achieve for budding entrepreneurs. As I established SJL Insurance 18 years ago with a Worcestershire council grant of £250 plus a grant from the Hereford & Worcester Chambers of Commerce for £250. The £500 helped me buy a desk and computer. So I wanted the story to go full circle and help others do the same.”


The £2,000 grant package will be donated to each winner by the latest date of 31 December 2019.


100% of donations go to charity. The SJL Foundation aims to raise £100,000 in its first year of which the remaining 45% of that is going to Acorns Children’s Hospices, and 10% will go to a charity match fund pot for staff.