EVOLVE is a membership based organisation. A Bedfordshire and Luton Community Foundation initiative launched in 2018 by Chair Viviane Vayssieres.
Last year EVOLVE awarded bursaries worth £16,000, helping women to retrain, upskill and start a business.
This October EVOLVE launched a £10,000 Social Entrepreneur grant, seven women applied.
Lady Clifford Patron of the Charity said “ The Trustees were impressed by the ingenuity and energy of the contestants. Social entrepreneurship creates lasting social change through business, benefiting the local economy whilst inspiring and empowering the community to participate in its prosperity ”
EVOLVE Social Entrepreneur 2023 is Mariana Brown.
Maz launched Brown Books earlier this year. A treasure trove of pre-loved books encouraging and inspiring children and young people to read whilst supporting local and ethnic minority authors. Her journey to Hightown Road is just amazing!
Brown Books with its comfortable armchairs and friendly welcome has become a much loved community hub in Luton, where people meet and share their passion for reading. The shop is used to run literary events and can be hired for meetings.
The grant panel comprised of EVOLVE Trustees and Business Advisor Paula Devine, Head of Membership & Global Trade Services at the Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce, were unanimous in their finding. President Pauline Stewart said “We were all taken by Maz passion, drive and vision, she is the most deserving winner, we loved Brown Books concept and its community appeal which fit perfectly with our criteria !”
With £10,000 Maz also received complimentary EVOLVE and Bedfordshire Chamber of Commerce memberships, 12 month IT support from Yellowstone, and professional mentoring from EVOLVE trustees.
We are most grateful to London Luton Airport Ltd for their sponsorship.
Maz had been nominated for Entrepreneur of the Year at the Love Luton Best Awards 2024 and invited to speak at EVOLVE International Women’s Day (attended this year by136 women!) Thursday 7th March 2024 Barnfield College.