At 29MR, ideas are only the start of the journey; considerable time, cooperation and funds are needed to turn these ideas into viable businesses or products. 

For many aspiring entrepreneurs, innovative concepts – which could disrupt their sector or even change the world – often remain on the drawing board, due to lack of funding. 

That is where the Ignite Fund comes in. 

Small funds to tackle big problems 

For the last five years, the Ignite (Formerly 125) Fund has provided budding entrepreneurs with the opportunity to apply for small-scale funding for projects. Available to all current Westminster students, the Fund can grant up to £1500 to any individual student seeking to further their business venture, personal or professional development, and/or employability.  

The most successful and game-changing of entrepreneurial journeys will be filled with trial and error, testing, failing, coming back, developing, learning. Business ideas do not leap seamlessly from ideation to market – they require incubation, time and funding. Whilst Westminster can provide the expertise to develop these ideas through the WE Network, it is up to the students to find the time and obtain the funding themselves. This can seem like an impossible task, particularly when time that could be spent developing the enterprise is, for many students, eaten up by part-time work needed to fund it. 

The Ignite Fund gives entrepreneurial students a golden opportunity to develop their ideas and take them to the next stage. 

“It was amazing – it came at a very critical point,” Westminster alumni and social entrepreneur, María del Pilar Aristizábal Pineda said of winning the 125 Fund. 

María’s social enterprise Life Academy focuses on tackling the pandemic of youth suicide by empowering young people through mentoring.  

The, then, 125 Fund helped her to take her award-winning Colombian social enterprise international – specifically by supporting the NGO’s human resources and digital capabilities.  

Life Academy has already extended its services to Mexico and Brazil – but its plans stretch a lot further than that. 

“We expect to be the global platform to empower young people – that’s what we dream of,” said María. “Our initial focus is Latin America, but we’re going to build something that is truly international.”  

All of this demonstrates the exponential power small amounts of funding have to change, not only one student’s prospects, but possibly the world. 

Standing out from the crowd 

“I recently had an interview at an architectural practice, and they were impressed that I had been able to manage my time in my second semester while doing The 125 Fund project,” architect and Westminster graduate, Muhtasim Mojnu said after obtaining the award. “It looks good on your CV. In terms of employability, it makes you stand out.”  

Born in Bangladesh shortly before his family moved to the UK, some of Muhtasim’s earliest memories were of moving from house to house to stay with different relatives, and of bailiffs knocking at the door.  

During the second year of his Architecture BA, The 125 Fund enabled Muhtasim and a team of classmates to design and present a 3D project at the Imperial College Science Festival – the experience has been pivotal to his career prospects. 

After completing an internship at Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners – designers of London’s iconic “Cheese Grater” building – Muhtasim secured a role at award-winning Tye Architects immediately after graduating, where he currently works as a Part 1 Architectural Assistant. 

Still at the start of his career, Muhtasim has big plans for his future. 

“I’m interested in kinetic architecture,” he said, prior to graduating. “The fact that it’s modern and futuristic. These are buildings that are able to reform and reshape in reaction to the environment. That’s the future.”

Other 125 Fund recipients include: 

  • Rituja Rao, who received the 125 Fund to start her YouTube channel, is now a Senior Enterprise Project Manager at Deliveroo, and an award-winning thought leader and advocate for women in tech.  
  • Jordan Robertson used his 125 Award to co-found personal training app, Mobifit, which he ran throughout his BA Marketing Management. 
  • Herbal Medicine student Amanda Jesenska used the award to establish Chingford’s Haseya Apothecary Garden, focused on bringing the local community closer to nature. 

Funding Opportunities 

Simply put, the larger the pot fund available to more students we can support. Whether you are a corporate entity, individual, or trust & foundation, your contribution to the Fund will provide critical startup finance for an enterprise or an entrepreneur’s professional development. This could be the start of their formative business journey, from which the sector-leading WE Network can provide timely incubation to reinforce their concepts for market. We will also be able to provide regular updates on the progress of Ignite-funded outfits, and you will be able to follow their, and their founder’s, development across the years.