The Black Social Traders Network (BlaST) is a network of Black-led socially trading organisations (STOs) in Liverpool City Region. BlaST operates as a collaborating community, dedicated to recognising and amplifying the collective impact and contributions of social business leaders with Black and Ethnic Minority lived experience.

Defining Black

BlaST equips its membership with essential skills to grow their social impact. Programmes are co-designed with members and might involve growth planning, collaborative working, how to secure new contracts, access investment, and referrals to mainstream services. 

BlaST is supported by Kindred, a Liverpool City Region Social Investment Fund. 25% of Kindred investments are made to BlaST members.


  • Serve as a conduit to opportunities and investment, essential for growth and sustainability.
  • Advocate for equitable access to resources, addressing systemic disparities in funding allocation faced by Black-led STOs.
  • Actively combats feelings of isolation among business owners, fostering collaboration and nurturing a supportive peer STO community, where success knows no bounds.
  • Advocate for BlaST members, championing the visibility of Black-led STOs and their contributions to the region’s economy.
  • Facilitate pathways to success for Black social entrepreneurs, offering advocacy and tailored support.
  • Foster an environment in Liverpool City Region in which BlaST members can grow their social impact.

For more information about BlaST’s membership offer and peer-to-peer support, email

The future of BlaST and investment in Black-owned STOs in LCR

BlaST targets start-up and early-stage socially-trading organisations and those transitioning from grant to viability, providing a pipeline of investment-ready ventures with a track record of growth, borrowing and repayment. 


Joanne Anderson, Innervision – BlaST founder & exec director 

Joanne brings three decades of experience tackling racial inequality locally, nationally and internationally. At Kindred, she coached STOs, promoting their resilience and growth. Joanne advocated for 25% of initial investments to support Black-led STOs, a standard Kindred maintains and her efforts led to the creation of BlaST, securing £80k from UnLtd. Joanne was previously a paid advisor to Access (The Foundation for Social Investment) and now serves on Big Issue Invest and UnLtd’s growth fund.

Joanne leads the development of BlaST in its ambition to become a Black and Minority Ethnic-led fund and support programme.

Adele Myers, programme coordinator 

Adele oversees the network’s growth, drawing on her 15+ years of health-focused expertise. Within Kindred, she pioneered BlaST’s investment readiness programme, connecting STOs with peer and customised support. 

Adele coordinates opportunities and support to BlaST’s membership with the aim of investing 25% of Kindred’s resources to BlaST members.

Both Joanne and Adele are undertaking a Masters in Business Scale Up.

Erika Rushton – strategy and programme director, Kindred

Erika Rushton MBE has supported hundreds of creative and social businesses, over a 30 year period, to turn their individual and collective dreams into reality. She is widely recognised for her contributions to the creative and digital sector, social economy and gender equality. Erika helped found and chaired Baltic Creative CIC for ten years; was Chair of Granby4Streets Community Land Trust – winning the Turner Prize with the Assemble Collective – and delivered a £7m expansion of Islington Mill’s artist-led community in Salford.

She helped set up Kindred, a £6.5m social investment fund for Liverpool City Region that is redesigning how money works, and who it works for. Erika is responsible for incubating BlaST within Kindred (as Kindred itself was incubated by Power to Change), to develop its purpose, identity, infrastructure and strategy.