Blue Ventures, a social enterprise that works to support marine conservation across the world Head Quartered in London, has been recognised as a leading social enterprise, shortlisted in the 2015 NatWest SE100 awards.
The NatWest SE100 Index is an online listing of social ventures, ranked and scored according to their growth and social impact. Each year the NatWest SE100 Awards recognise social enterprises on the Index who have demonstrated some of the best business practice within the sector, celebrating the growth, impact, ambition and resilience of social enterprises in the UK.
The Growth Champion Award is given to a social venture on the Index who has experienced positive, financial growth from one year to the next. The panel also looks for a winner with sustainable and diverse income streams, coupled with a sustainable business model. Blue Ventures has a growth percentage of over 150% for the 2014-2015 financial year, and are ranked 4 out of 125 organisations in their turnover category of £1-5 million.
Blue Ventures works in communities where the ocean is vital to local cultures and economies, and is dedicated to developing innovative approaches for producing and sustaining locally led marine conservation to benefit the areas in which they work. Head Quartered in London, Blue Ventures started out with projects in Madagascar and Belize, and is now trying to replicate in new territories in south east Asia, the pacific and other parts of Africa.
As well as celebrating financial success, the Growth Champion award recognises an organisation’s commitment to measure its social or environmental impact. Blue Ventures has a social impact score of 9/10 on the NatWest SE100 Index.
To date, Blue Ventures conservation programmes have reached 300, 000 people across the world living in marine protected areas, including their innovative model in Madagascar where it has integrated family planning services into pre-existing, community-based conservation programmes. The programme has achieved huge success, reaching 25, 000 women in remote communities with no previous access to contraception.
Richard Nimmo, Managing Director of Blue Ventures, said of its growth and impact: “We are taking an entrepreneurial, commercial approach to conservation and development, which is not typical of the sector. We have trading income through our ecotourism business, which makes our model sustainable. Many sources of income for grant funding come through government, and are not secure. Our business model is key to being able to support our selves and maintain the teams in the countries in which we work.
He continued: “All profit is reinvested back into the organisation or donated to our conservation charity. When we go to work in new countries, typically we go without funding. Our ecotourism business means we can establish operations, and once we have demonstrated that we are effective in those regions, the funding cycle changes. Other sources of income are through more traditional charity sources, and we are more focused on foundations and trusts that are looking to support enterprise, change and transformation, as many are very attracted to our social enterprise status.”
Commenting on the award, Richard said: “We’re really excited to be shortlisted for the Growth award and remain optimistic about our future as an organisation and scaling up. In spite of our recent successes there is always room to grow and we hope to expand our services to reach 3 million people by 2020. We feel strongly that social entrepreneurship is good for the third sector, and are pleased to be a part of the SE100 Index to help promote that.”
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise, NatWest, said: “Social Enterprises make a massive difference to local economies and communities across the UK and beyond. They are run by inspirational people who want to make a difference. That is why at NatWest we want to support them to get access to the finance, support and networks they need to flourish. That way not only do they benefit, but the economy benefits and our society benefits.
“The NatWest SE100 Index and Growth Champion Award allow us to recognise social enterprises that have seen growth through sustainable and diverse income streams, all while making a positive impact. We congratulate all shortlisted enterprises and look forward to celebrating their success at the awards ceremony on 19th October.”
The 2015 winners will share a £32,000+ prize fund that will be awarded at the NatWest SE100 Annual Awards on the 19th October 2015, at the Good Deals social investment conference in London. For tickets to the awards ceremony click here.
The shortlist is divided into five categories: Sustainable Growth, Social Impact, Trailblazing Newcomer and the Resilience and Storyteller award.