Top UK social ventures win share of £32.5k

The winners of the 2015 NatWest SE100 Awards have been announced in London and include ventures delivering positive social and environmental outcomes across the UK. 

In an unprecedented move a total of six winners were announced in five categories, each winning a share of £32,500. Competition was so tight that Kelvin Valley Honey and The FRC Group were both given the Impact Award. 

Minister for Civil Society Rob Wilson joined in the evening celebrations, which were hosted by BBC business and economics journalist Simon Jack at the end of the first day of the UK’s leading social investment conference Critical Mass. Wilson said: “It’s a great pleasure to join you this evening for the second year running… and to be celebrating social enterprises for the crucial place they hold in our economy and society.

“More than two million people now work in the social economy – many of these inspiring businesses are working in the UK’s most deprived regions, showing how social causes can be met with an enterprising approach.”

The NatWest SE100 Index is an online listing of social ventures, ranked and scored according to their growth and social impact. The live market intelligence platform is designed to provide a substantial data resource for investors, commissioners and policymakers as they seek to understand the landscape of the social economy and identify top performers across the UK.

The winner of the trailblazing newcomer award, presented by the minister, was Andiamo. Andiamo uses 3D scanning and printing technologies to measure and produce an orthoses, or braces, in just 24 hours. The venture was set up by the parents of a disabled child who spent years battling with long, distressing and inefficient orthosis services.

CEO of Andiamo Naveed R. Parvez told BBC’s Jack: “We assumed it was just us and the area we lived in but then we started to do the research and realised no, it was also London, the UK, the States, Europe… and suddenly the whole thing snowballed. 

“We develop everything. The closest thing to us in the recent past cost €5.2m and took four years. We have developed this for £100,000.” 

After rapturous applause broke out, Jack responded: “That is mind boggling.” He then asked Parvez what was next in the business plan? “Right now it’s building the infrastructure – we want to serve 100 million people worldwide. We want to be making an impact to over one billion people and we want to be turning over £1m. We want to make massive impact.

“We’ve been brainwashed into thinking that business is doing bad and only caring about money. Good business is about making an impact because that is what the economy is fundamentally based on.”

Other winners included Five Lamps, a northeast based social enterprise that focuses on reducing financial exclusion, which took home the Resilience Award and Aduna, a health and beauty social venture, which was named this year’s champion storyteller. 

The last remaining award winner was Lincoln-based social enterprise The EBP, which won the Growth Award. CEO Elaine Lilley explained why the organisation was founded: “We were trying to get young people into work and equip them with employability skills, but also we were trying to help them be better citizens – that was a key issue. It wasn’t just about choosing a work path but also about being part of a community.”

Leaving the audience with a positive feeling about the momentum around social enterprise nationally, the BBC’s Jack said: “Social enterprise is something I have covered but we don’t cover enough of.

“These awards recognise the fantastic work across the UK of those committed, excellent businesses that serve a social purpose.”


Photo credit: Matthew Herring, Matter&Co