The Social Enterprise Awards are the sector’s equivalent of the Oscars, an annual gala that celebrates the movement and recognises high achieving social enterprises and the teams that make them run.
Awards are offered in a number of categories and the British Council is delighted to sponsor the International Impact category, whose five finalists, described below, illustrate the innovation, diversity and impact of social enterprise at its very best. (Visit their websites to find out more and peruse their products.)
The competition is organised and run by Social Enterprise UK and the 2015 ceremony was held in London on 26 November.
Alive and Kicking
Alive and Kicking manufacture hand-stitched sports balls from local leather in Kenya, Zambia and Ghana. Each ball is individually screen-printed by hand, allowing them to be customised and used as educational tools delivering health messages to players.
Since 2004, Alive and Kicking have sold over 700,000 sports balls; creating and sustaining 150 full time, fairly paid jobs. The balls are widely available across Africa and around the world.
Proceeds from the sales of the balls have been used to train over 955 football coaches and teachers to deliver health training about preventable disease in their communities, reaching over 30,000 people in a sports based HIV prevention campaign.
In addition 20% of the balls Alive and Kicking produces are donated to disadvantaged children and community groups helping them to exercise their right to play, often resulting in children playing with a real ball for the first time.
Alive and Kicking partner with a range of organisations including Arsenal in the Community, Tackle Africa and the Marketing Academy and have delivered large orders for clients such as Nestle, Coca Cola, UNICEF and Ghana’s Ministry of Sport.
Divine Chocolate Ltd
Divine Chocolate is a producer of Premium Fairtrade chocolate that is 44% owned by cocoa farmers in Ghana.
It is the only farmer-owned mainstream chocolate company. Divine’s pioneering business model and success in making sales globally have helped to make it one of the world’s best known social businesses. Its example shows that business can be done differently in the global chocolate market, with farmers sharing more of the wealth they are helping to create, and having a voice in decisions that affect their future.
The surpluses generated from Divine’s chocolate sales have to date benefited over 80,000 farmers, their families and local communities in Ghana.
The farmers decide democratically how to spend this money and the Fairtrade Premiums. Recently these funds have been invested in bonuses to farmers, skills and training initiatives and community improvements including water wells, schools and health clinics. In addition, Divine has invested over £2m in progressive programmes including adult literacy, a model farm project and a radio outreach programme. It also operates a successful women empowerment programme.
Divine aims to grow a successful global farmer-owned chocolate company using the amazing power of chocolate to delight and engage, and bring people together to create dignified trading relations, thereby empowering producers and consumers.
From Babies with Love
From Babies with Love sells a range of attractive, ethically sourced baby clothes and donates 100% of its profit to orphaned and abandoned children around the world.
They deliver their mission to help the world’s most vulnerable children – who have lost their parents as a result of war, famine, disease or poverty – through a partnership with SOS Children.
The funds support orphaned and abandoned babies to live in SOS Children’s Villages where they are cared for by an SOS mother and live with their SOS siblings. SOS Mothers care for the whole family, comforting, celebrating; doing all the things that parents do.
This enables children who would otherwise be left to fend for themselves, on the streets or in slums, to have a second chance in life.
Currently, From Babies with Love supports over 700 children in 25 countries around the world and they expect to increase that number to 2,000 children within the next six months thanks to new products and services.
Their products include clothes as well blankets, bibs, hats for children aged 0 to 24 months. They also offer gift vouchers and a range of corporate gift packages.
Shared Interest Society
Shared Interest is an ethical investment organisation that plays a crucial role in the Fair Trade movement by lending money directly to fair trade businesses across the globe.
It comprises 9,045 members who each invest between £100 and £100,000. To date, Shared Interest members have invested over £33m which is loaned out again and again to fair trade businesses across the globe that would otherwise struggle to get finance. In 2014, Shared Interest made over 2,700 payments totalling £48m to fair trade organisations in 65 countries.
These businesses range from sole trader handcraft producers to large scale coffee co-operatives in the developing world, to buyers in Europe and North America. Clients include Andean Naturals, which buys quinoa from small farms in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru, and Gourmet Gardens, the largest supplier of Fairtrade vanilla in East Africa.
Shared Interest offers a variety of lending options that enable their customers to pre-finance orders, purchase essential machinery and infrastructure, make advance payments to farmers and artisans, and finance inventory for new shops selling fair trade goods.
Shared Interest works collaboratively and innovatively with those who share their commitment to fair and just trade. With a community of investors and the support of donors and volunteers, they seek to contribute to a world where justice is at the heart of fair trade finance.
Zaytoun helps over 1,500 Palestinian farming families to sustain resilient livelihoods by providing markets for their premium quality, fairly-traded produce such as olive oil, almonds, spices and dates.
Zaytoun markets and sells these elegantly branded goods through shops, its website, and a network of passionate volunteers. To further boost the value of sales, the company also helps Palestinian farmers to certify their products Fairtrade and organic where appropriate.
In addition, Zaytoun raises funds to plant olive trees for Palestinian farmers and organises “harvest” and “olive picking” tours of Palestine for customers who want to visit farming communities and experience life in the West Bank.
Founded in 2004, Zaytoun’s business is growing healthily. In 2014, sales were up 48% over 2013 – and sales of dates form the Jordan Valley were up 228% year-on-year.
For communities challenged by the isolation imposed by the Israeli occupation, their products – which Zaytoun is helping to promote – provide a tangible testament to the richness of their lives, the difficulties they face and the cultural heritage they carry.