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LAUNCH OF SOCIAL ENTERPRISE PROGRESS REPORT

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Small business minister, Nigel Griffiths has honoured the UK's top community and social enterprises at the finals o...
Small business minister, Nigel Griffiths has honoured the UK's top community and social enterprises at the finals of the Enterprising Solutions Awards in London. The awards celebrate the success, innovation, and unique nature of businesses that display both entrepreneurial flair and a commitment to social change.

Clinching the top prize of £10,000 at last night's reception, Cardiff-based Pack-IT Product Promotions became the fifth company to win the awards since they began in 1999. This year's awards are supported by the Department of Trade and Industry, the Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest in association with Social Enterprise Magazine and The Observer.

Pack-IT, who faced strong competition from four other finalists from around the UK, provides training opportunities and permanent paid employment for people with learning and physical disabilities. Pack-IT's employees, both able and those with disabilities, are all key players in the business's success story. The company reaps benefits from having a committed, long-serving workforce and continues to win contracts as a commercially viable business. Pack-IT has grown from its early beginnings into a three pronged business supplying mailing, storage and distribution, and on-line services.

Announcing the winner, Mr Griffiths, said: 'The social enterprise sector is going from strength to strength. These awards are a great opportunity to recognise and celebrate that profit and social objectives can make a winning combination.'

'The firms here tonight are changing the way we deliver business solutions to social problems. This year's winners have been a catalyst for change, breathing new life and opportunity into their communities and serving as an example to others.'

Mr Griffiths also launched 'A Progress Report on Social Enterprise: A Strategy For Success'. The report, which is available heresets out how, a year on, the government is delivering on its social enterp rise strategy. Through this strategy, government aims to provide a more enabling environment for social enterprises, help make them better businesses, and deliver a greater understanding of their value.

Achievements this year include:

* Development of proposals for a new legal form for social enterprises - the Community Interest Company;

* Production of a 'Public Procurement Toolkit' to spread best practice for social enterprises in winning public sector business, to be launched later by Mr. Griffiths;

* Delivering a strategic grant worth £450, 000 to establish the Social Enterprise Coalition, as a strong and inclusive voice for social enterprise, promoting the sector in government and with the wider business community;

* Ensuring that all Business Link operators include support for social enterprise in their business plans and that all DTI support schemes are available to social enterprises on the same terms as other SMEs

NOTES

1.Social enterprises are businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners. Well-known examples include the Eden Project in Cornwall and The Big Issue.

2.The four other short-listed companies from around the country received £5,000 each as runners-up. Each illustrates the variety of business ideas which represent social enterprise throughout the UK and captured the imagination of the judging panel for the way they use business principles to benefit their communities and the

environment. The four companies are:

Creggan Enterprises Limited

Creggan Enterprises Limited, CEL, is a community-led organisation determined to be a catalyst for change within Creggan, Bogside and surrounding areas. Its aim is to build a viable, sustainable and successful community by creating opportunities and conditions for local economic and social development. Established in 1 991, it has created the successful Rath Mor Business and Community Enterprise Centre, combining retail and community service space, and operates a community post office. Through its activities, CEL has helped create over 150 jobs in the area, with an estimated £900,000 per year in wages being earned, spent and circulated within the local economy. CEL works across the sectarian and religious divide, reinvesting its profits to create employment opportunities and operate in a socially and environmentally responsible way. It also donates a proportion of its profits to local community groups, such as local neighbourhood, school and environmental organisations.

Green-Works

Green-Works offers an innovative solution to maximise the re-use of redundant office furniture and equipment to benefit society and the environment. Their unique one-stop membership service to organisations and businesses removes unwanted office furniture and redistributes it at low cost to community organisations, charities, schools, hospitals and start-up companies, or recycles it in an environmentally responsible way. Green-Works operates its warehouses in several deprived inner city areas in partnership with other community and social enterprise organisations, thereby providing training and employment to disadvantaged, disabled or long-term unemployed people. Since 2000, Green-Works has processed over 2 thousand tonnes of office furniture and supplied over 6,000 items to more than 500 groups ranging from Barnado's, The Cutty Sark and schools to donations to an orphanage in Romania and NGO projects in East Africa.

Impact Community Developments

Impact Community Developments provides good quality, long-term accommodation and support for vulnerable young people in Bradford. Set up in 1998 by a group of young people who were at risk of homelessness themselves, Impact has renovated and refurbished 55 rundown council properties into safe and s ecure homes for over 65 people. Impact also offers a range of services to support and empower young people to take positive control of their lives, gain independence and reach their long-term goals. This includes offering access to education, training and employment opportunities, including in IT, building maintenance and mobile phone sales and technical advice.

Shared Interest Society Limited

Shared Interest Society Limited is a unique organisation providing finance to fair trade organisations around the world. It is a co-operative lending society, owned and controlled by its 8,350 members from across the UK and all walks of life. Shared Interest's members are motivated to invest knowing that their money is being lent to people in other parts of the world who do not have access to credit at reasonable rates. Established in 1990, Shared Interest now has total share capital of £18m. It makes loans to fair trade producer groups in developing countries to allow them to buy raw materials and pay for production before they sell their goods for export. Loans are also provided to fair trade buyers in developed countries to allow them to make advance payments to producers. Last year, Shared Interest financed some £20m of fair trade orders. Over the years, it has also raised several million pounds for lending to microcredit institutions in developing countries.

Last year, Brighton & Hove Wood Recycling Project scooped the top Enterprising Solutions title. The team found the incredible boost to morale and the business's profile invaluable in helping them set a strong course for the future whilst the £10,000 cash prize meant a new truck and a financial cushion in the bank. Previous winners of the Award include Recycle IT, Tropical Wholefoods and the Furniture Resource Centre.

3.Rules and Qualifying Conditions:

All enterprises regardless of legal structure (charitable, non-profit distributing, mutual, co-operative, community or social ly directed) that are UK- based, have a turnover of less than £3m and a 3-year (or longer) track record of financing over 50% of their work through enterprise are able to apply for the award. They must be able o provide a clear breakdown of income (e.g. earned/trading/grant/donation) and show evidence of their commitment to social justice and social change, through seeking to tackle any of the complex social, economic and environmental problems facing our society.

4.Judging Panel

The judging panel selected the five finalists from amongst a strong field of contenders on 7 October. The judging panel consists of:

Chair Barbara Phillips, director, Social Enterprise Unit, DTI vice-chair

Andrew Robinson, head of community development banking, NatWest & Royal Bank of Scotland

Debra Allcock Tyler, director, directory of social change

Liam Black, chief executive, FRC Group

Jonathan Bland, chief executive, Social Enterprise Coalition

Roger Brocklehurst, chief executive, Local Investment Fund (LIF)

Audrey Bronstein, UK poverty programme director, Oxfam

Andrew Hibbert, director, Industrial Common Ownership Foundation (ICOF)

Gerard Higgins, chief executive, Social Firms UK

Stephen Lyle-Smythe, deputy chief executive, Small Business Service

Nick Mathiason, business reporter, The Observer

Derek Mapp, chair, East Midlands Development Agency

Baroness Glenys Thornton, chair, Social Enterprise Coalition

Sophi Tranchell, director, Day Chocolate Company

Allan Watt, head of community investment, Royal Bank of Scotland Group

Helen Wildsmith, director, UK Social Investment Forum

Steve Wyler, director, Development Trust Association

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