On the 4th November 2015, COINS Foundation attended the School for Social Entrepreneurs’ Social Entrepreneur of the Year Awards 2015.

The Awards took place in London, where five finalists were in with the chance of winning cash prizes of £10,000, £6,000 or £4,000 to invest in their social enterprises.

Prior to the Ceremony, attendees had the opportunity to peruse the marketplace and purchase a range of products, including food & clothing from social entrepreneurs. A particular favorite was The Dusty Knuckle bakery, where samples of delicious sourdough bread were provided to whet our appetite. This award winning social enterprise works with young people facing barriers to financial independence, including previous youth offenders and the long term unemployed.

Unique calendars also made their mark, produced by the organisation, Cafe Art, a unique initiative showcasing artwork created by people who have been affected by homelessness or those who are socially vulnerable. They encourage self-dependence for these individuals, by creating opportunities, building self-esteem, self-worth and confidence through art and engagement with the community.

We aspire to represent a positive approach to a topic that can often be negative.

Cafe Art

The programme has been generously supported by Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland, with additional finance from the Big Lottery Fund and a number of local organisations. Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland’s Social Entrepreneurs Programme gives social entrepreneurs the best possible chance of success by providing access to support and funding and has supported 750 social entrepreneurs to date.

It is designed to support social entrepreneurs and, through them, help economic growth and regeneration in the UK

School for Social Entrepreneurs

The winner of the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award 2015 and the recipient of £10,000 was Jem Stein from The Bike Project. The charity, which refurbishes bicycles to donate them to destitute refugees and asylum seekers with little or no access to transport, largely relies on the generosity of the public for donations of second hand bikes. The £10,000 prize will help The Bike Project to pay for a part-time mechanic, as the bikes are all second hand they require refurbishing before they can be donated or sold.

In second place, receiving £6,000 was the Incredible Farm, a stand alone, not for profit, company built to teach small-scale commercial food growing and marketing skills to young people. The farm is primarily supported by income from produce, plant and fruit tree sales, with their aim being to produce food with minimal impact on the environment through using permaculture methods. By maintaining an intact ecosystem, food production is more predictable, less damaging and sustainable. The Farm has several innovative design features on site, including hot beds, a passive solar greenhouse, Hugel beds and many novel plants and offers tours of their site.

In third place, taking the £4,000 prize was Michelle King from Little Miracles – a parent led support group and Charity for families that have children with additional needs, disabilities and life limiting conditions.

Overall, attendees enjoyed a delightful evening engaging with passionate people who are set on creating a better and more inclusive society for all and the importance of encouraging others to follow suit. The rewards won by these finalists will be invested into their socially sustainable businesses in addition to benefiting from the Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Scale Up Programme, which focuses on developing them as entrepreneurs. The combination of skills, knowledge and financial support, will undoubtedly be a great contribution in helping them to expand their enterprises and continue to be a force for good.