Social Entrepreneur of the Year 2017 shortlist announced

Public voting for the 2017 Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award opened on Monday, with five entrepreneurs competing for a grand prize of £10,000. 

The finalists run social enterprises in a range of sectors, including employment, education, mental health awareness, and youth services. They have all been selected from the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Scale Up Programme, in partnership with School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), and jointly funded by Big Lottery Fund.

Kate Buckingham, a Solihull-based social entrepreneur, is the youngest in the shortlist at 23 years old. She founded Altruist Enterprises in 2013, a social enterprise which provides stress management training to organisations, along with talks and workshops for young people and parents on the subjects of mental health and autism. 

“Winning the award would enable us to employ a sales person, and gain more customers within private sector businesses,” said Buckingham. 

More than 200 social entrepreneurs applied for the programme, with only 40 gaining a place. Following a Dragons’ Den-style panel, the judges picked five finalists based on the impact they create, the growth they have achieved, and the potential of their business plans. 

“The Dragons’ Den pitch was a truly stressful experience,” said Nikki Markham, one of the finalists and founder of Battling On. The social enterprise supports veterans to reintegrate into society by training them as mentors to vulnerable young people and adults with disabilities. 

“Winning would allow us to buy a community bus and transform the lives of the elderly and disabled living in rural isolation,” said Markham.

The other finalists are Cemal Ezel (Change Please, which was named Trailblazing Newcomer in the NatWest SE100 Social Business Awards last year), Maggie Sikora (Mapis), and Rachel Roger (Reform Radio). 

The finalists have each received a comprehensive learning programme with SSE, a grant of £15,000, and a Lloyds Banking Group business mentor to help develop their enterprise and increase its social impact.

According to a March 2016 report, 706 social entrepreneurs had graduated from the programme since it began in 2012. 

In addition to the grand prize of £10,000, there is also a second prize of £6,000 and third prize of £4,000.

Alastair Wilson, CEO of SSE, said: “All the finalists are creating tangible social change within their communities through their continued hard work and I wish them the very best of luck.”

The Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme aims to help 2,350 entrepreneurs to start and scale social businesses by 2020. 

Last year’s winner was Sophie Unwin, founder of Remade in Edinburgh.

The winner of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award will be announced at a ceremony in London on the evening of 16 November 2017. 

You can vote here or text ‘SEYA17 [finalist’s first name]’ to 82228. Voting closes 5pm on 31 October 2017.