Here are the five nominees for the Best Social Enterprise Category. Each of these social enterprise project has been setup by one of the Universities within the SETsquared Partnership.
The Bath Soup Company - University of Bath
Soup is typically used to help the homeless by offering them a free hot meal. Soup is used as it's cheap to produce. The Bath Soup Company (or BSC) produces handmade soup using 100% natural ingredients and locally sourced produce, in doing so, it has established Bath Soup as a high quality, high margin product.
As Bath Soup is produced via the BSC Soup School, a kitchen skills and customer service program that actively helps the homeless to become more employable, the Bath Soup Company has flipped this traditional model on its head to offer a long-term benefit that is both profitable and sustainable.
Since forming as part of a student enterprise competition, BSC has utilised Farmer's Markets and events to raise capital, generated large amounts of PR via popular "pop-up shop events" and attracted over £5000 in funding to develop itself as a scalable model that may be replicated nationwide. It has retained strong ties with the University of Bath, winning this year's Business Plan Competition and earning it as a valuable large customer.
FoodCycle - University of Bristol
FoodCycle combines young volunteers, surplus food and a free kitchen space to create nutritious meals and positive social change in the community! It has been working in Bristol since its massive launch in February 2010. The idea is simple. Food retailers throw out millions of tons of edible food every year due to supply overstock. The aim of FoodCycle is to redirect this food so it can be used to cook nutritious meals for people in the local community that do not have access to healthy foods for a variety of reasons, such as lack of income or knowledge of healthy nutrition.
Foodcycle also runs a student kitchen – every Wednesday they cook surplus food and charge students just £3 for a hearty meal. The student kitchen is then "sponsored" by a society in the University, so students can listen to a talk, music or demonstration.
The food is transported from supermarkets to the kitchens using refurbished donated bicycles from another social enterprise The Bristol bike project. Foodcycle has made a big difference in local communities such as Easton all due to the hard work and effort of Bristol students.
DecAid - University of Exeter
The 2011 appeal 'DecAid' has been set-up to support troops on the 10th anniversary of combat operations in Afghanistan. The appeal aims to raise £350,000 which will benefit three existing forces charities; The Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA), The British Limbless Ex-Servicemen's Association (BLESMA) and Talking2Minds (a new charity which helps soldiers suffering from trauma related conditions, such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder). The appeal wishes to raise the awareness of the spectrum of problems that serving on the frontline can cause, as well as highlighting the work which already goes on to support the forces community.
There will be six national events. The flagship event is an attempt, by students, to summit all 283 Scottish mountains over 3,000ft (known individually as a 'Munro'), in just 49 days, using man power alone. The route is approximately 1,600 miles. Other events include a 3,500 mile static bike race between 10 UK cities, a stretcher race up Snowdon, a race between the three services to see who is the fastest pulling field ambulances, a parade in conjunction with Armed Forces day in Edinburgh and a service of remembrance in Salisbury Cathedral.
The appeal was set-up and is being run by students from Exeter and Plymouth Universities, with the core team belonging to the Exeter University Officer Training Corps.
The appeal was only made possible by the initial support from the University of Exeter's Innovation Centre, which provided start up capital, an office space for the team to work in and vital mentoring.
Right Light - University of Southampton
Right Light is a social enterprise project run as part of the Students in Free Enterprise team at the University of Southampton. The project started in November 2010 and came about through Project Leader, Mike Austen's interest in creating better third world societies without the need to create charity giving.
There is a direct correlation between poverty and a lack of electricity, meaning until infrastructure in third world countries are improved, people will continue to struggle to escape from the cycle of poverty. One fifth of the world still doesn't have access to electricity, meaning this is a serious issue. Right Light aims to provide third world communities with access to solar lights.
The project works with a global business and an NGO to establish a micro-finance repayment scheme to families in rural Madagascar. The scheme offers family's instant access to solar lights, with weekly repayments being half the price of dangerous and toxic kerosene that fuel their current light source.
Right Light already has 120 families signed up to the scheme in three communities in Madagascar. It is using the repayments from these families to establish community solar lamp entrepreneurs who will be able to rent out additional lights to the community.
The scheme is a completely new way of light to the third world. Right Lights lamp supplier, Tough Stuff have been so impressed with the success of the scheme, they are now looking to implement the model in other third world countries.
SIFE - University of Surrey
We are helping people in the region of Mukono, Uganda to target three main needs; Agricultural business in –efficiencies, inefficient wood fuelled stoves and backward perceptions towards enterprise. We began to tackle these individual needs through 3 interconnected projects.
Firstly we introduced the evaporative fridge model with 24 farmers to increase the shelf life of produce from 2-14 days. Any organic waste that does occur can be used as a source of energy. We encouraged the money being saved by the 24 farmers to be invested into establishing a bio-gas facility in which animal excrement and natural waste is transformed into energy for domestic use and cost £60 to build. A single bio gas plant is expected to save 1150 trees annually and requires minimum maintenance with a lifespan of 15-20 years. We were able to provide a clean and efficient alternative to wood fuel for cooking and light for one farmer and his family this year. Alongside these two projects we delivered workshops, educating participants on bio-gas and basic business skills.
Our final project worked with schools in Mukono region to prepare children for a positive outlook on running a business. We found that most students aged between, 13-21 had the perception that in order to be successful you had to work for someone. We delivered 14 workshops to 506 kids which involved an interactive business challenge to change this perception. The schools were so taken by the project that entrepreneurship has now been introduced on to the curriculum.