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Fast Growth Awards: social entrepreneurship takes centre stage



A number of innovative entrepreneurs took to the stage on Friday in London to present ideas that could help tackle a range of social issues while also generating growth for investors.

The event, called the Fast Growth Awards, was organised by the charity UnLtd and featured 16 social enterprises, which spoke about their projects to a wide range of delegates – including investors, businesses and entrepreneurs.

After opening words from UnLtd’s CEO Cliff Prior, the first presentation was carried out by Sally Higham from RunAClub, an online platform that assists people across the country who wish to start a community club but need help with the admin side.

James Baderman then presented Fight for Peace, an initiative set up in Rio de Janeiro to engage youths in boxing and martial arts, whilst also delivering crucial education and employment skills, as a way to reduce street violence and crime. The project was brought to London in 2007.

Two social enterprises that work with ex-offenders came next. The first, Spark Inside, works with young people on life coaching, helping them find their own strengths and career paths to avoid reoffending. The second, Bristol-based Together Social Business Group, aims to create full-time employment for ex-offenders by buying empty properties and renovating them for sale.

As executive director of Spark Inside Baillie Aaron explained, the cost of re-offenders for the taxpayer is astonishing. Over one year, the cost of 1,000 ex-offenders that commit a single crime is £16m in the UK. A study on the life coaching model showed a 0% reoffending rate and 50% rate of people actively looking for jobs or education six months after release.

The following area of business covered was health, a sector that recent figures said had witnessed massive growth in the social enterprise space last year. Jamie Wilson, CEO of Home Touch, presented his company, which provides help for the elderly so that they and their families can be more independent. Mark Swift from Wellbeing Enterprises followed him, explaining how his social enterprise takes a more holistic approach by enabling customers and doctors to get consultancy services and management strategies.

Self-management for people with long-term conditions is the focus of Bridges, a company that helps people with neurological and other diseases to take control of their lives, in order to accelerate rehabilitation. Another health-focused company, uMotif Digital Health, has developed a software application that makes patients’ lives easier. Social entrepreneurs focused on health all agreed that the health system is often dysfunctional for patients, and that there was a need for them to easily take control of their lives, which brings about remarkable savings for the society.

Another big focus of social entrepreneurship during the event was education and employability. Five companies and charities presented original and interesting initiatives, which aim at helping postgraduate students in need of funds – such as Student Funder.

Others help pupils who get free school meals to strive for top universities, which is the mission of Brilliant Club. Alex Shapland-Hughes, CEO of Future First, explained that his company looks at the next step, trying to close the career gap between those coming from low-income backgrounds, who often struggle to get top jobs. Meanwhile UpReach works to make it so that social background does not represent a barrier for students on their career. Another company, Year Here, selects brilliant graduates and offers them an annual programme that can turn them into ‘social leaders’.

Elsewhere, the Student Hubs charity works with university students to encourage them to volunteer on social and environmental programmes. Research by the group showed that students who are engaged in volunteering keep it up after university as well, while some even decide to change their career path because of these activities.

The final two entrepreneurs to present their businesses were Michelle Wright from Cause4 and Gavin Francis from Worthstone. The first works with charities, philanthropists and social businesses to develop effective fundraising and communication strategies, while the latter seeks to boost social investment knowledge and understanding among financial advisers.

All the social entrepreneurs presented excellent ideas, which will undoubtedly arouse the curiosity of many investors. Speaking to Blue & Green Tomorrow after the event, UnLtd CEO Cliff Prior said, “Access to market is becoming the biggest challenge for social enterprises.

There is much more money coming from social investment into the market, but access to market and money go together.

“Social enterprises are just getting good enough, because they stand up in commercial terms.”

Further reading:

Healthcare social enterprises in massive 121% growth in 2013

Investing in the future: smart investment trends

Charity Bank eyes growth after £14.5m social investment from Big Society Capital

Bringing social investment into the mainstream

Government sets out social enterprise support in Social Investment Roadmap


How Going Green Can Save A Company Money



going green can save company money
Shutterstock Licensed Photot - By GOLFX

What is going green?

Going green means to live life in a way that is environmentally friendly for an entire population. It is the conservation of energy, water, and air. Going green means using products and resources that will not contaminate or pollute the air. It means being educated and well informed about the surroundings, and how to best protect them. It means recycling products that may not be biodegradable. Companies, as well as people, that adhere to going green can help to ensure a safer life for humanity.

The first step in going green

There are actually no step by step instructions for going green. The only requirement needed is making the decision to become environmentally conscious. It takes a caring attitude, and a willingness to make the change. It has been found that companies have improved their profit margins by going green. They have saved money on many of the frivolous things they they thought were a necessity. Besides saving money, companies are operating more efficiently than before going green. Companies have become aware of their ecological responsibility by pursuing the knowledge needed to make decisions that would change lifestyles and help sustain the earth’s natural resources for present and future generations.

Making needed changes within the company

After making the decision to go green, there are several things that can be changed in the workplace. A good place to start would be conserving energy used by electrical appliances. First, turning off the computer will save over the long run. Just letting it sleep still uses energy overnight. Turn off all other appliances like coffee maker, or anything that plugs in. Pull the socket from the outlet to stop unnecessary energy loss. Appliances continue to use electricity although they are switched off, and not unplugged. Get in the habit of turning off the lights whenever you leave a room. Change to fluorescent light bulbs, and lighting throughout the building. Have any leaks sealed on the premises to avoid the escape of heat or air.

Reducing the common paper waste

paper waste

Shutterstock Licensed Photo – By Yury Zap

Modern technologies and state of the art equipment, and tools have almost eliminated the use of paper in the office. Instead of sending out newsletters, brochures, written memos and reminders, you can now do all of these and more by technology while saving on the use of paper. Send out digital documents and emails to communicate with staff and other employees. By using this virtual bookkeeping technique, you will save a bundle on paper. When it is necessary to use paper for printing purposes or other services, choose the already recycled paper. It is smartly labeled and easy to find in any office supply store. It is called the Post Consumer Waste paper, or PCW paper. This will show that your company is dedicated to the preservation of natural resources. By using PCW paper, everyone helps to save the trees which provides and emits many important nutrients into the atmosphere.

Make money by spreading the word

Companies realize that consumers like to buy, or invest in whatever the latest trend may be. They also cater to companies that are doing great things for the quality of life of all people. People want to know that the companies that they cater to are doing their part for the environment and ecology. By going green, you can tell consumers of your experiences with helping them and communities be eco-friendly. This is a sound public relations technique to bring revenue to your brand. Boost the impact that your company makes on the environment. Go green, save and make money while essentially preserving what is normally taken for granted. The benefits of having a green company are enormous for consumers as well as the companies that engage in the process.

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Report: Green, Ethical and Socially Responsible Finance



“The level of influence that ethical considerations have over consumer selection of financial services products and services is minimal, however, this is beginning to change. Younger consumers are more willing to pay extra for products provided by socially responsible companies.” Jessica Morley, Mintel’s Financial Services Analyst.

Consumer awareness of the impact consumerism has on society and the planet is increasing. In addition, the link between doing good and feeling good has never been clearer. Just 19% of people claim to not participate in any socially responsible activities.

As a result, the level of attention that people pay to the green and ethical claims made by products and providers is also increasing, meaning that such considerations play a greater role in the purchasing decision making process.

However, this is less true in the context of financial services, where people are much more concerned about the performance of a product rather than green and ethical factors. This is not to say, however, that they are not interested in the behaviour of financial service providers or in gaining more information about how firms behave responsibly.

This report focuses on why these consumer attitudes towards financial services providers exist and how they are changing. This includes examination of the wider economy and the current structure of the financial services sector.

Mintel’s exclusive consumer research looks at consumer participation in socially responsible activities, trust in the behaviour of financial services companies and attitudes towards green, ethical and socially responsible financial services products and providers. The report also considers consumer attitudes towards the social responsibilities of financial services firms and the green, ethical and socially responsible nature of new entrants.

There are some elements missing from this report, such as conducting socially responsible finance with OTC trading. We will cover these other topics in more detail in the future. You can research about Ameritrade if you want to know more ..

By this report today: call: 0203 416 4502 | email: iainooson[at]

Report contents:

What you need to know
Report definition
The market
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
The consumer
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Competition from technology companies
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
What we think
Creating a more inclusive economy
The facts
The implications
Payments innovation helps fundraising go digital
The facts
The implications
The social debt of the financial crisis
The facts
The implications
Ethical financial services providers: A question of culture
Investment power
Consumers need convincing
The transformative potential of innovation
Consumers can demand change
An ethical economy
An ethical financial sector
Ethical financial services providers
The role of investing
The change potential of pensions
The role of trust
Greater transparency informs decisions
Learning from past mistakes
The role of innovation
Payments innovation: Improving financial inclusion
Competition from new entrants
The power of new money
The role of the consumer
Consumers empowered to make a change
Aligning products with self
For financial products, performance is more important than ethics
Financial services firms perceived to be some of the least socially responsible
Competition from technology companies
Repaying the social debt
Consumer trust is built on evidence
Overall trust levels are high
Payments innovation can boost charitable donations
Consumer engagement in socially responsible activities is high
Healthier finances make it easier to go green
37% unable to identify socially responsible companies
Building societies seen to be more responsible than banks….
….whilst short-term loan companies are at the bottom of the pile
Overall trust levels are high
Tax avoidance remains a major concern
The divestment movement
Nationwide significantly more trusted
Trust levels remain high
For financial products, performance is more important than principle
Socially conscious consumers are more concerned
Strategy reports provide little insight for consumers
Lack of clarity regarding corporate culture causes concern
Consumers want more information
The social debt of the financial crisis
For consumers, financial services firms play larger economic role
Promoting financial responsibility
Consumer trust is built on evidence
The alternative opportunity
The target customer

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