RBS SE100 Index award winners show that social enterprises means business

Thursday, 7 November 2013 10:53 GMT

P3, a social enterprise helping some of the most vulnerable in Britain's East Midlands region, and winner of the RBS SE100 Impact Chamption award 2013. P3

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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Strong growth, high standards of social impact reporting and solid business arrangements are the hallmarks of the winners of this year's RBS SE100 Index awards, according to the judges.

The RBS SE100 Index compiles data about the growth and social impact of Britain's social enterprises. The winners were picked from more than 1,000 social enterprises listed on the index.

“This year both the quality and quantity of applicants has been extremely strong, a testament to the success of the sector," said Ian Walters, managing director of business banking at RBS as the winners were announced at the Good Deals 2013 conference in London on Wednesday night.

Right Track Social Enterprise, winner of theGrowth Champion 2013 award, provides a mix of training and apprenticeships in the East Midlands for young people and adults who struggle the most to find work.

“I set up Right Track initially to help people who mainstream education had let down,” said chief executive Stuart Bell.

Now Bell wants to grow the company, which saw its turnover grow to more than £1 million in just four years with a 146 percent rise between 2012 and 2013.

“We’d like to go national," said Bell. "We’d like to be a household brand.”

A social enterprise can achieve this, he believes: “I want to show that social enterprises can compete with the big boys in the commercial world. Don’t let them pigeonhole us as just do-gooders. We are commercial people and we can deliver a better service at a good price.” 

Patchwork People,winner of the Trailblazing Newcomer 2013 award, is a social enterprise that not only doubled its turnover in its second year, but is also working hard to reduce its grant dependency.

The company works in the northeast of England with young people interested in the fashion sector, helping them to create clothes and accessories that are sold via the Labelled brand at a shop,  and at markets and festivals.

“We quickly learned we needed to look at income streams, we needed to generate income to become self-sustaining as a social enterprise,” said founder Gill Walker, who set up the company after being made redundant following 30 years working in the public sector. 

“We have managed to double the turnover by year two, reduced our grant dependency and, this year, it’s really beginning to take off. We have a model now that we are looking to replicate.

"It’s not just about keeping young people busy. We have to evidence the difference we are making.”

P3, winner of the Impact Champion 2013 award, has worked for more than 30 years in the East Midlands in some of the most deprived areas in Britain.

P3 aims to overcome some of the challenges that the public sector can no longer tackle alone due to tighter budgets through a wide range of services, including education for young people who are struggling in mainstream schools.

It runs Jobshop – an employment service, and temporary accommodation and intensive support for homeless people.

The judges considered P3’s social impact reporting to be well balanced and thorough. It was independently assured, stakeholders were involved in social impact measurement and the organisation took notice of what it learned from its social impact measurement by setting up new services as a result.

“We have looked long term into what impact we have had on the beneficiaries, and then looked at the impact we have had on the wider community and the impact on society as a whole," said Mark Simms, acting chief executive.

"It makes completely sound business sense to do that – we need to tell donors, commissioners and beneficiaries about what we are doing, why we are doing it and what our service is.”

The winners share a £25,000 ($40,000) prize fund.

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