The heroes who invest in people: Five candidates from five different walks of life are vying to be Social Enterprise Champion of 2013

Sarah Morrison looks at how their commitment has helped their local communities

They are the sort of people who find young people jobs, provide healthcare services for hundreds of thousands of people, and invest millions in business that are changing lives.

On Wednesday, they will be honoured at the UK Social Enterprise Awards, which celebrate the work of Britain’s 70,000-strong social enterprise movement. Five candidates, from across the country, will go head-to-head to be named this year’s Social Enterprise Champion.

Forget celebrities or billionaires, the award – sponsored by The Independent on Sunday – will go to someone who both works in and regenerates a community at the same time. Over the last few months, the IoS has shown that people and profit can go together. The sector’s contribution to the economy has been valued at around £18.5bn. Around 38 per cent of social enterprises had an increase in turnover last year, compared with 29 per cent of small and medium businesses.

In addition, they are more diverse: More than 90 per cent of social enterprises have at least one woman on their leadership team and almost one third of teams have Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (Bame) directors.

Ahead of the 15th Social Enterprise Awards, The IoS meets this year’s shortlisted champions.

I have always been interested in the role business can play in making a positive difference

Rajeeb Dey, 27, is the youngest shortlisted champion Rajeeb Dey, 27, is the youngest shortlisted champion

Rajeeb Dey, 27, is the youngest shortlisted champion. He is the founder of Enternships, an online platform which helps young people find work in start-ups and social enterprises. It has worked with more than 5,500 companies and has placed about 8,000 young people in jobs. At just 17, he launched Student Voice, representing the views of secondary school students. In 2011 he  co-founded StartUp Britain, a campaign to promote entrepreneurship, backed by the Prime Minister. The east Londoner was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum in 2012.

“When there are such high levels of graduate unemployment, it’s important we do everything we can to connect young people to opportunities. Start-ups are the life-blood of our economy; they are fast growing and need young talent. It’s important to drum in the message that we can make a positive difference in society, through social enterprise, at a time when so many issues need to be fixed. I have always been interested in the role business can play in making a positive difference. I hope everything I do in the future will be about looking at how business can do good.”

The driver for me is to ensure that local people  can own local assets and develop services that are important to a community

Cris Tomos, 46, from North Pembrokeshire, Wales Cris Tomos, 46, from North Pembrokeshire, Wales

Cris Tomos, 46, from North Pembrokeshire, Wales, is as community-minded as they come. His day job is leading the restoration of Cardigan Castle, but he is also the chair of Welsh social enterprise Cymdeithas Cwm Arian Association, which raised thousands of pounds to buy co-operatively the old village school in Hermon and turn it into an eco-venue centre, offering community space, conference rooms and a pre-nursery group. He is a board member for the 4CG cooperative, which created community buildings, a car park and a local museum in Cardigan, among other things.

“It’s about safeguarding buildings to be maintained for community use. The driver for me is to ensure that local people can own local assets and develop services that are important to a community. People need to be aware about the opportunity that community enterprises and share offers can bring. Most, when presented with what’s possible, are prepared to part with £200 quite easily to ensure a community’s service is maintained. We’ve kept the high street alive through cheaper parking, modernised an old hall, we’re bringing in jobs and giving people opportunities to socialise.”

Health isn’t just  about being seen in  a hospital; it’s also about where you live and what you do

Andrew Burnell from Lancashire Andrew Burnell from Lancashire

Andrew Burnell’s first job in the NHS was as a nurse in the 1980s. Now, the 47-year-old, from Lancashire, is the CEO of City Healthcare Partnership, a majority staff-owned social enterprise, which provides health and social care services to more  than half a million people in Hull  and in Knowsley, Merseyside. It  left the NHS in 2010 and invests about 65 per cent of its profits back into its services.

“Our objective is to improve the health care services we provide, while investing in staff and the community. We are able to keep the public-sector pound within the areas where it’s needed – more than 85 per cent of procurement is done locally and we give a percentage of our profit and time to local voluntary sector organisations. The social return on an investment is £28 for every £1 invested – so it has a wider impact. Health isn’t just made up of being seen in a hospital. Health is also about where you live, what you do, and whether you have an education.”

This isn’t about charitable giving. It’s about creating a business and making solutions sustainable

Nigel Kershaw OBE has been at The Big Issue for almost two decades. As Group Chairman and as CEO of Big Issue Invest (BII), he has always been determined to invest in and regenerate communities, preventing people from having to live on the streets. Since 2005, Kershaw, 62, has run BII around the Big Issue motto: “A hand up, not a hand out.” It has invested more than £20m in 160 social enterprises, reaching almost 1.7 million people. He says he ultimately wants to put The Big Issue out of business.

“When we made our first investment, there were just a few pioneers doing it. People thought we were fucking nuts. They asked what on earth a homeless magazine was doing in the finance world. We’re really proud of what we have achieved. We invest anything from £50,000 to £1m. Social enterprises, on the whole, are focused on where there really is a social failure. Lots of the entrepreneurs have been inspired to set one up because they have seen something in their lives they want to address, or something around them they want to mend. This isn’t about charitable giving. It’s about creating a business and making solutions sustainable.”

The people you meet have sheer determination and passion, as well as showing innovation and resilience

Caroline Mason launched Investing for Good a decade ago Caroline Mason launched Investing for Good a decade ago

Caroline Mason CBE had an “epiphany” a decade ago. The former business woman, who had worked at Reuters and in the financial world, decided she wanted to use her skills in a different way. She launched Investing for Good, a project that mobilised investment capital for socially driven organisations. She became chief operating officer for Charity Bank and then COO of Big Society Capital, which has committed £150m to almost 30 organisations in the social sector. Mason, 49, is the newly appointed chief executive of the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

“I could tell, in 2003, that financial services had changed quite a lot. It didn’t seem to be operating to any socially useful purpose; it was becoming an end in itself. In my own personal life, I was very involved with the community, and I began to see a disconnect. I co-founded Investing for Good to try and make money work for different reasons. In 10 years, [social enterprise] has changed hugely. People are beginning to understand it. Financial institutions are even designing products. There’s nothing I’d rather do. The people you meet have sheer determination and passion, as well as showing innovation and resilience. I love it.”

News
people
News
people And here is why...
News
peopleStella McCartney apologises over controversial Instagram picture
Life and Style
Laid bare: the Good2Go app ensures people have a chance to make their intentions clear about having sex
techCould Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Burr remains the baker to beat on the Great British Bake Off
tvRichard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
News
i100
Sport
footballArsenal 4 Galatasaray 1: Wenger celebrates 18th anniversary in style
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
tv
News
people
News
The village was originally named Llansanffraid-ym-Mechain after the Celtic female Saint Brigit, but the name was changed 150 years ago to Llansantffraid – a decision which suggests the incorrect gender of the saint
newsWelsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Scott Thomas in Electra at the Old Vic
theatreReview: Kristin Scott Thomas is magnificent in a five-star performance of ‘Electra’
News
Destructive discourse: Jewish boys look at anti-Semitic graffiti sprayed on to the walls of the synagogue in March 2006, near Tel Aviv
peopleAt the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Life and Style
Couples who boast about their relationship have been condemned as the most annoying Facebook users
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Hayley Williams performs with Paramore in New York
musicParamore singer says 'Steal Your Girl' is itself stolen from a New Found Glory hit
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Associate Recrutiment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...

Year 6 Teacher (interventions)

£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...

PMLD Teacher

Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...

Day In a Page

Italian couples fake UK divorce scam on an ‘industrial scale’

Welcome to Maidenhead, the divorce capital of... Italy

A look at the the legal tourists who exploited our liberal dissolution rules
Time to stop running: At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity

Time to stop running

At the start of Yom Kippur and with anti-Semitism flourishing, one Jew can no longer ignore his identity
Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

Tom and Jerry cartoons now carry a 'racial prejudice' warning on Amazon

The vintage series has often been criticised for racial stereotyping
An app for the amorous: Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?

An app for the amorous

Could Good2Go end disputes about sexual consent - without being a passion-killer?
Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid. Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?

Llansanffraid is now Llansantffraid

Welsh town changes its name, but can you spot the difference?
Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

Charlotte Riley: At the peak of her powers

After a few early missteps with Chekhov, her acting career has taken her to Hollywood. Next up is a role in the BBC’s gangster drama ‘Peaky Blinders’
She's having a laugh: Britain's female comedians have never had it so good

She's having a laugh

Britain's female comedians have never had it so good, says stand-up Natalie Haynes
Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LED lights designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows

Let there be light

Sistine Chapel to ‘sing’ with new LEDs designed to bring Michelangelo’s masterpiece out of the shadows
Great British Bake Off, semi-final, review: Richard remains the baker to beat

Tensions rise in Bake Off's pastry week

Richard remains the baker to beat as Chetna begins to flake
Paris Fashion Week, spring/summer 2015: Time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris

A look to the future

It's time travel fashion at Louis Vuitton in Paris
The 10 best bedspreads

The 10 best bedspreads

Before you up the tog count on your duvet, add an extra layer and a room-changing piece to your bed this autumn
Arsenal vs Galatasaray: Five things we learnt from the Emirates

Arsenal vs Galatasaray

Five things we learnt from the Gunners' Champions League victory at the Emirates
Stuart Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

Lancaster’s long-term deal makes sense – a rarity for a decision taken by the RFU

This deal gives England a head-start to prepare for 2019 World Cup, says Chris Hewett
Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence