About Nesta

Nesta is an innovation foundation. For us, innovation means turning bold ideas into reality and changing lives for the better. We use our expertise, skills and funding in areas where there are big challenges facing society.

Started: June 2013
Website: www.beatfreeks.com
Twitter: @beatfreeks
Location: Birmingham

Beatfreeks CEO Anisa Haghdadi MBE, identified the need to build a credible link between institutions and young people in Birmingham, in ways that valued their skills and creativity. So she gathered together young artists, activists and future leaders from the city’s diverse community to form Beatfreeks.

The youth engagement agency co-creates stories, campaigns and experiences with young people to develop skills, networks and confidence through creativity. Crucially, it takes a collective approach. This is not a top-down company with young people as its users: young people are the driving force, with 100 per cent of its board and team under 25.

This approach is clearly having an impact. Just three years in, Beatfreeks has worked with major brands such as RSC to engage with more diverse audiences, run campaigns for Heritage Lottery Fund around heritage and identity, and has been named a model of socially innovative practice across the EU by Aston University.

Demand for its unique methodology has come from places as diverse as Krakow, Venice and Barbados. Next up is working on open sourcing more of its work through the ‘Inspired By Beatfreeks’ model.

“We have the sustainable mindset of a business and the collective spirit of a movement," says Anisa. "That's a radical approach to social enterprise.”