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£450k funding for HACE’s data-led child labour battle

HACE: Data Changing Child Labour, has raised £450,000 in its pre-seed funding round, beating its initial target by 20%.

The Tech for Good startup, which is on a mission to leverage technology to sustainably eradicate child labour in global supply chains, oversubscribed the round by £75,000 against the backdrop of a challenging funding environment throughout 2023.

Led by Manchester Angels, the funding round includes co-investments from GC Angels, Ada Ventures, Found Capital and individual angel investors.

HACE will utilise the funding to complete the build of its flagship product, the Child Labour Index, which enables asset managers, wealth managers and institutional investors to proactively identify child labour risk in their portfolio companies and engage with these businesses effectively via its Stewardship Toolkit, to facilitate positive change.

Powered by AI, the index’s specialist ESG rating generates three distinct risk scores on companies and portfolios in the specific area of child labour.

As part of the ongoing development of the index, the funding will be used to continue the proof-of-concept feedback and pilot phases with a select group of asset managers and wealth managers equipped with strong sustainable investment credentials.

The funding will also enable HACE to advance its Stewardship Toolkit which is being built and verified by expert academics and practitioners. The toolkit is designed to support investors’ engagement with portfolio companies on the specific risk of child labour.

Finally, HACE will invest in the growth of its Independent Business Advisory Board and continued research on the distinct issue of child labour as a business and investment risk.

Eleanor Harry, CEO of HACE: Data Changing Child Labour, said: “To be able to oversubscribe the funding round in the current economic conditions is a monumental achievement for HACE and a testament to the growing awareness of the scale of the child labour issue and the role that technology will play in sustainably eradicating it.”

“We want to express our thanks to all of those who have supported or contributed to the raise and the success of HACE more broadly, including all of our investors, KPMG Acceleris and KPMG Law. We would like to extend our deep gratitude to the wider Manchester ecosystem which has also been monumental in supporting HACE as we have built and grown the business. HACE is on a mission to create tangible change, something we wouldn’t be able to do without the help of all those involved.”

Alongside the fundraise, HACE has established a joint development and technological partnership with software provider Equal Experts and announced a new board of directors, which will be chaired by Eric Solomons, the former office managing partner of audit, tax, and consulting firm, RSM. Paul Inella, CEO of Washington-based Tetrid Digital Integrity, and John Freeman, Senior Director at Johnson & Johnson, have also been appointed to the board.

Founded in 2020, HACE has previously received grant funding equating to £55,000 via the Greater Manchester AI Foundry and the University of Cambridge. The business generated revenue from its initial service, before pivoting to concentrate on the development of the Child Labour Index.

With 160m children in child labour globally, HACE is leveraging the power of data and technology to aid the eradication of an increasing and emerging stand-alone risk, to both human rights and ESG more broadly.

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