Ahead of our course on social enterprise, we decided to share some of our favourite companies that are making a difference, not just making a profit.
In the UK alone there are estimated to be 70,000 social enterprises – each working for social good or environmental good, or both, and reinvesting the money they make back into their social missions. With our social enterprise program we’re hoping to help a few more get going.
To get you inspired here are just a few of our favourites…
The Eden Project is a great example of a business that could have become just another gimmicky tourist attraction but has worked really hard to become something more valuable to the wider world. The project ploughs money into research and education about the environment, it’s committed to sustainability and it hosts artists and bands.
London Bike Kitchen is a non-profit social enterprise that teaches and supports people in becoming self-sufficient and proficient in bike maintenance. They reach out to those from all backgrounds and bicycles and encourage them to contribute to community bike culture in London and the world. I’m a massive fan of their work to encourage everyone to cycle and empower them to understand how their bike works. Disclosure: I’ve been a member for years.
Ecotricity supply electricity and gas to homes across the UK, generating power using wind turbines and solar panels, selling this power to the national grid, then reinvesting any profits into developing more green energy resources. What’s more, their gas and electricity prices undercut the ‘Big six’ energy suppliers in the UK and consistently top customer service polls.
Luminary Bakery provides courses, work experience and paid employment for disadvantaged and vulnerable women.
DIY Space for London is a great venue. It’s miles away from anywhere (well…it’s actually near Millwall’s stadium) but is run really well as a collective endeavour. The bar is affordable and staffed by volunteers, and they pay bands well and do some really positive events (they recently held an all-day festival for majority female bands who had never played a gig before). It’s great for allowing people to get experience in stuff they haven’t done before while helping out with running a new venue for small/medium bands.
The Good Loaf is a bakery in a former Northampton shoe factory, which trains and employs female ex-offenders in a bid to “break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and offending”. Not only has its social mission been lauded by government ministers, it’s also won awards for its baking, totally fulfilling it’s “good bread doing good” strapline. If you’re ever in NN1, stop by The Good Loaf cafe or market stall for a fruit sourdough – perfect with a slather of Nutella or a crumble of Lancashire cheese.
Learn more about different models of social enterprise. Join Social Enterprise: Business Doing Good today.