The power of social entrepreneurship in helping homeless people with Alex Stephany


Alex is the founder and CEO at Beam, a social impact company that crowdfunds career opportunities for the UK’s homeless community. He believes that individuals, charities, and government bodies need to act in unison to solve the homelessness crisis and that the time to act is now.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown, Beam has helped over 150 homeless people find employment. This has had a knock-on effect on their families, their wider communities and has opened up possibilities when it comes to social mobility in the UK.

Beam is part of the wider momentum in business where people are using tech to solve societies’ most pressing issues, at scale.

Do you think of yourself as an entrepreneur?

I don’t like to put myself in any particular box. Whenever I’m asked what my job title is, I say I’m a social entrepreneur. I believe in using entrepreneurship, tech, and my business mindset to solve social and environmental problems.

I find the middle-ground between soulless businesses that exist only to make money and charities very exciting. Possibly the most interesting thing that’s emerged in our economic and social change sectors in over a century. Business should be first and foremost about having a positive impact on the wider community.


We know capitalism has been and continues to be, the leading cause of social inequalities and climate change. The business for good movement is asking if we can rethink traditional business models to create an actual, measurable social impact.

For us at Beam, this would be the number of homeless people who have got a job through our organization.

Tell us more about your career and what led you to Beam

I have always loved to run and grow businesses by surrounding myself with and nurturing talented people who are as obsessed with products as I am.

I cut my professional teeth as a corporate lawyer at Clifford Chance before a brief stint in consulting. My educational background is in English at Oxford University. I learned my finance fundamentals through my CFA qualification.

In my last role at JustPark, I grew their revenue over 10-fold in 3 years and built a top-class team of 40, starting out from just 2 employees. We raised funding from Index Ventures and managed to close the largest equity crowdfunding for a startup in history.

I’m now working with another stellar team at Beam, to solve the big and complex problem that is homelessness. Beam is the world’s first crowdfunding platform that helps people from disadvantaged backgrounds to train up and get into rewarding work.

Our initial focus is supporting homeless adults in hostels and other temporary accommodations.


How does Beam work?

Beam has created a revolutionary way to help homeless folks in the long term. It works by allowing people like you and me to crowdfund vocational training and any other employment-related need a person that is homeless might have to join the workforce and become self-sufficient.

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It allows people to directly connect with individuals in the homeless community who need help. Is incredibly efficient in that 100% of funds go towards fulfilling that individual’s needs.

When you donate, you get your own ‘impact’ page where you can see lists of all those you’re directly funding and the aggregate impact you’ve had. You’ll be able to see exactly what your money is doing, down to the last pound.

What advice would you give to someone who is trying to build a social impact business?

Understand well those that you want to help. Dig deep to find clear reasons for why you want to get involved. For the former, be humble and receptive to people’s needs, whatever they may be. For the latter, be authentic and truthful, and then make those reasons your driving force.

Also, make sure your intervention plan, whether this is a charity or a business for good is sustainable and viable in the long term.


How was Beam born? What gave you the motivation?

I befriended someone that was homeless, and it all really went from there. From our almost regular conversations, it became apparent that above all he needed a sustainable source of income. I thought this person may need support costing thousands of pounds, but what if everyone just chipped in? I knew how to raise money through crowdfunding and haven’t looked back since.

What skills and expertise are missing from the Tech for Good sector?

I think the sector needs a diversity of skills including some found traditionally in VCs or VC-backed companies. For over a decade, the best talent has gravitated towards tech giants, where they are working on solving, in my opinion, the wrong problems. I mean, does it really and truly matter how many clicks an ad can get?

I think there is an urgent need to shift focus towards things that matter, and I’m actually seeing this happen in our recruitment pipeline! Over the last couple of years, we have been flooded with applications from individuals who are currently working in these tech giants and who are looking for meaning in their work.

What are some of your current projects?

I’ve authored a book on business and the sharing economy called The Business of Sharing.


I also provide expert commentary on the sharing economy and startups at places like Bloomberg TV, Sky News, NPR, the BBC, and a few others.

I love to hear from smart, creative, and most importantly, hungry people who want to solve meaningful problems. If you want to reach out, even if we’ve never met, you can catch me on Twitter @AlexStephany.

I am where I am because many people were kind and helped me in pursuing my career, so I like to give back, specifically to the tech community, whenever I can. I am very lucky to have mentored some extremely talented entrepreneurs through TechStars.

Alex Stephany, social entrepreneur

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