2018 Social Enterprise Award winners revealed

The top prize at last night’s UK Social Enterprise awards went to Cafédirect, the first coffee company certified as a B Corp in the country and the UK’s first Fairtrade hot drinks brand.

Cafédirect, which earned the accolade of Social Enterprise of the Year, was founded in 1991. It invests 50% of its profits – £6m to date – into Producers Direct, a UK charity that works directly with farmers across the coffee-growing world to improve sustainability and livelihoods.

Judges commended the organisation’s “re-branding, acquisitions and increased performance”, which had sent the business “from decline to success” in the past year. The business also took home a second award, for International Impact.

The UK Social Enterprise Awards were presented at a London event, at which goods and services on the night were all supplied by social ventures, from the rigging to the flower displays.

Hosted by Social Enterprise UK, the annual prizes shine a spotlight on organisations leading the way in mission-driven business, with 14 categories this year.

Other winners included Caledonia Cremation, a social enterprise funeral director that offers all families in Scotland the same price for their service, also investing in counselling, an advice helpline and education around bereavement, funerals and death. Caledonia Cremation took home the One to Watch award, with judges commenting that the business, although new, “already delivers one in every 300 funerals in Scotland”.

The Social Investment Deal of the Year went to HCT Group and ClearlySo, for a £17.8 million investment project which has been used to accelerate HCT’s rapid expansion.  

Liz Tapner, CEO of Lancashire’s social enterprise network, Selnet, took home the Woman in Social Enterprise Award. Judges praised Tapner for “successfully and delivering EU and Lottery funded programmes to support (social enterprise) in the North West of England.”

Commenting on this year’s ceremony, Social Enterprise UK CEO Peter Holbrook said: “This year’s winners are testament to the real impact of the social enterprise movement.

“It can no longer be seen as a fringe part of our economy but rather as a sector making a real difference both socially and economically. Social enterprises are showing us what the future of business can look like.”

For the full list of winners, head to Social Enterprise UK’s website.

In other awards news, Celia Hodson, founder of 'buy one, give one' menstrual product brand Hey Girls, was named Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the 2018 Summit Entrepreneurship Awards on 22 November, which recognise the achievements of entrepreneurs across Scotland. Hodson, who had been shortlisted alongside Josh Littlejohn of Social Bite and Alan Mahoon of Brewgooder, paid credit to her customers: “Without their sales and their support, we wouldn’t be able to donate products to women and girls in need – and this is really what Hey Girls is all about.”