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28 January, 2015 - 13:35 By News Desk

OpenJamJar lift-off from Cambridge social venture weekend

Belinda-Bell

One of the first social ventures to get a big boost from Social Venture Weekend at Cambridge Judge Business School is a firm called OpenJamJar that helps both landlords and renters navigate payment procedures on housing.

OpenJamJar attended the second Social Venture Weekend near the end of last year and has since benefited from a further 12 months of training and support offered by Social Incubator East, which is now preparing for the third Social Venture Weekend from February 27 to March 1.

“We provide office space, business advice, support with business planning and introductions to networks,” said Belinda Bell, programme director at Social Enterprise East. So far, 25 ventures from the first two Social Venture Weekends, held in June and October 2014, have been offered this further training.”

OpenJamJar was launched to address issues caused by changes in the way housing benefit is paid in the UK. There has been flight by private landlords owing to concerns about payment procedures, so OpenJamJar aims to provide assurance of successful payment processing to landlords, renters, housing associations and credit unions. 

By helping to ensure that housing associations have sufficient cash flow, OpenJamJar also reduces the need for local authorities to provide costly emergency housing.

Pilots are set to take place April 2015 in Peterborough, Sheffield and Barnsley, and OpenJamJar plans to roll the venture out nationally this autumn.

OpenJamJar was founded by Tim Drye and Tim Brooks, and developed after Drye – a statistician, town councillor and private landlord based in St Ives – was approached by a renter worried about cash flow problems due to changes in the way housing benefit is now paid.

OpenJamJar allows bank account holders to set aside or allocate a fixed amount to go directly to a landlord every month, and OpenJamJar then provides an equivalent amount of cash back to the renter into a separate savings account.

“OpenJamJar is a solution that works for renters, landlords, credit unions and local authorities,” says Drye, adding that OpenJamJar payment records help renters “build their credit score and increase their financial inclusion” with regard to credit reference agencies.

Social Incubator East, which supports ventures from across the East of England, is a partnership between Cambridge Judge Business School, Allia, Foundation East and Keystone Development Trust.

Registration for the Social Venture Weekend is £50, which includes meals and refreshments. Numbers for the weekend are limited and deadline for applications is 23 February 2015.

To find out more and to sign up for the Social Venture Weekend, visit www.socialincubatoreast.org.uk  or email info [at] socialincubatoreast.org.uk

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