Lord John Bird MBE & Nigel Kershaw OBE

2017 Cohort

Lord John Bird MBE, Founder and Editor-In-Chief of The Big Issue was born into poverty and brought up in care. His life’s journey has included spells as prison inmate, artist and printer. Now an established iconoclast, activist and publisher, and a cross-bench peer appointed to the House of Lords in October 2015.

John Bird is the force behind The Big Issue, the world's most successful street magazine. He is an inspirational business leader with an outstanding record of using enterprise as a tool for social change.

Lord Bird offers an authoritative approach, whilst providing an original perspective on the interaction of politics, business and society. His diverse experience, combined with an exuberant personality and erudition make him a compelling and entertaining speaker.

He has spoken at the United Nations in New York, Nairobi and Istanbul, at Downing Street and at Buckingham Palace. He is the recipient of a raft of accolades and awards, including the United Nations Scroll of Honour, an MBE and the 2005/6 Beacon Prize for Creative Giving.

Lord Bird launched a Bill in the House of Lords in 2017, aimed at helping millions of renters get fair access to credit.

Nigel Kershaw OBE is Chair of The Big Issue Group (TBIG). He joined in 1994, subsequently becoming its MD, then Group Chair, before going on to become the first CEO of Big Issue Invest.

The Big Issue is one of the world’s most successful and best-known social enterprises. More than 200m copies of the magazine have been sold in the UK by street vendors, inspiring over 100 similar publications around the world.

Big Issue Invest is creating a ‘social merchant bank’. It currently manages or advises on £170m of social funds – from its innovative lending programmes to regulated investment funds. It also advises on public retail impact funds to potentially improving access to credit and financial services for 3.4m social housing tenants by adding rent data to credit files.

Nigel is a Social Enterprise UK ‘Champion of Champions’ and winner of the Institute of Directors’ Good Enterprise Award. In 2010, he was awarded an OBE for service to Social Enterprise.