The Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award is an annual event that focuses on the next generation of social entrepreneurs and provides support to help them to develop their company further. Over 200 applicants stepped forward for the 2017 Award, with just 40 making it through the competitive process. Following a Dragons’ Den style-panel, the judges then selected the five finalists who have each received a comprehensive learning programme with SSE (School for Social Entrepreneurs), a grant of £15,000, and a Lloyds Banking Group business mentor to help develop their enterprise and increase its social impact. With a further £10,000 to the winner, it is no surprise that this Award regularly attracts a high standard of entries and it is for this reason that it has been left to the public to choose their winner.

By supporting social entrepreneurs to solve issues within their local community, we are impacting the wider economy and stimulating regeneration across the UK, delivering on our commitment to help Britain prosper.

Paula Rogers, head of Social Enterprise at Lloyds Banking Group

We thought we would help you out by giving you a little bit of information about each of the finalists.

Cemal Ezel is the founder of Change Please, a social enterprise that uses coffee to tackle homelessness. Based in London, Change Please trains homeless people to become baristas before employing them on a London-living wage. In addition they also assist with housing, setting up a bank account and, where necessary, therapy support. Selling coffee in mobile vans across London, each van can support eight homeless people per year and the £10,000 would go towards purchasing another van, helping them to improve their social outreach. Change Please coffee is now being stocked in 500 Sainsbury’s stores nationwide so now that you know what your money is going towards, keep an eye out for them when you’re doing your weekly shop.

Cemal Ezel - Founder of Change Please

23-year-old Katie Buckingham from Solihull has an exciting future ahead of her but she’s already making a difference to the next generation. Founder of Altruist Enterprises, they provide resilience, stress management and mental health first aid training to schools and organisations across the UK. Their work, raising awareness of mental health in the workplace and support skills development is designed to prevent, identify and resolve problems. Crediting the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme in partnership with the SSE Katie explains that her involvement has already helped her to increase their social impact. Winning the award would enable them to employ a sales person, which would help them to gain more paying customers within private sector businesses, allowing them to reinvest more into their work with schools.

Katie Buckingham - Founder of Atruist Enterprises

With a professional background in modelling, when Maggie Sikora was diagnosed with MS at the age of 18 she set up a social enterprise to help people from all walks of life to have equal access to education and training. Mapis does just that by supporting young people and adults from disadvantaged backgrounds to develop new skills and confidence to increase their employability through qualifications in fashion, beauty and retail. Linked to Mapis and to complete the transition into employment, Suit2Go provides clothing, grooming and interview preparation advice for unemployed men in Berkshire. Winning the award would clearly make a tangible difference to Mapis, enabling them to equip and staff their new office space as well as increasing the outreach of their Suit2Go service.

Maggie Sikora - Founder of Mapis

Cornwall based Nikki Markham is the founder of Battling On, a social enterprise, which supports veterans to reintegrate into civilian life. The veterans are trained and employed as mentors and instructors to support vulnerable young people from disadvantaged backgrounds and adults with disabilities, having an impact on both sides. The veterans help these individuals develop employment and personal skills through an innovative approach combining vocational training with numeracy and literacy. Part of the programme includes work experience gained through volunteering on local community based projects. Winning the award would help them to purchase a community bus to support their volunteering initiatives as well as enabling them to reach the elderly and vulnerable, who suffer from social isolation.

Nikki Markham - Founder of Battling On

Founder and director of Reform Radio is 30-year-old Rachel Roger. Based in Manchester, Rachel’s social enterprise is looking to support potential talent and create better prospects by delivering skills-development opportunities for 18-30 year olds through its industry standard online radio station. Reform Radio provides a number of opportunities including; traineeships, creative outreach programmes, pastoral support and volunteering to support young people into employment. Speaking excitedly about the prospect of winning, Rachel describes how the money would able them to employ a pastoral support worker, ensuring that no young person left Reform Radio without the integral support that they need for a better future.

Rachel Roger - Founder & Director of Reform Radio

Each of this year’s finalists really does deserve to win the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2017. They are creating tangible social change within their communities through their continued hard work and I wish them the very best of luck.

Alastair Wilson, CEO of School for Social Entrepreneurs

Voting is open until 5pm on 31st October 2017 and you can do this either online or by texting ‘SEYA17 (finalists first name)’ to 82228.

They’re all worthy winners, but who will be yours?