“Outstanding” social business which doubled income, staff and trainees wins Microentrepreneur of the Year – Growth category and £5,000 prize in 2016 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards
What are the characteristics of an outstanding social enterprise? Look no further than Paperworks, a social enterprise (and charity) which sells its services to businesses, charities and other social enterprises.
The 22-year-old business has recently expanded into new premises, and achieved significant growth, doubling its income, creating 7 new jobs whilst increasing the support it provides to disadvantaged people.
This week the Harrogate and Leeds business and charity will be celebrating as it receives national recognition and a £5,000 Award in a prestigious UK and international scheme, the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards.
It’s recognition for the “focused, strategic business growth and competitive advantage in the marketplace” they have demonstrated. And just like many businesses Paperworks needed to enable this growth with working capital.
That cash came in the form of loans of £20,000 and £30,000 from a responsible finance provider – loans which were crucial to enable the surplus-making social enterprise to develop.
Key Fund Investments Ltd, based in Sheffield and operating throughout the Midlands and the North of England, lends money to enterprises that have been turned down by a mainstream provider of finance.
With a mission to “regenerate local communities by supporting enterprises that deliver positive social or environmental impact,” Key Fund made £6.5million of loans and investments in the last financial year to 126 separate organisations.
Paperworks’ story is an example of a solvent, creditworthy and well established social enterprise that needed to access the type of finance that mainstream providers can’t provide, but responsible finance providers like Key Fund can.
Paperworks, which generates its income through providing print, post and packing services while providing work skills training, work experience and job seeking support to vulnerable adults, has used finance provided by Key Fund to expand the business to meet increasing demand, without eroding its current reserves.
A 2015 loan of £30,000 will enable the company to increase the number of trainees and grow the commercial side of the business; this growth will be sustained beyond 2016 from increased income generated through expansion.
Historically profitable, Paperworks’ income is increasing year-on-year, from £195,968 in 2011 to £401,354 in 2014, with 2015-16 income on track for a further increase.
And all surplus income is used to support their target beneficiaries or re-invested into the business: it support adults with a range of needs including learning disabilities, mental health, physical or sensory impairment – and provides work and training opportunities.
Paperworks was founded in 1994 as a Harrogate-based business with a social purpose. In 2012 it began an outreach project to extend work experience opportunities in more rural North Yorkshire. It then expanded into Leeds, opening a new site in 2013 as part of its growth strategy.
It’s doubled staff numbers from 8 to 15 since 2013 and increased the number of training sessions it delivers from 45 to over 100 per week. And it has doubled trainees too: from 30 to 60 and now has a waiting list.
The figures are sufficiently impressive that the judges in the 2016 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, organised by the Citi Foundation in partnership with Responsible Finance, gave Paperworks their “Microentrepreneur of the Year Award for Growth” Award in their March 2016 Awards.
James Pickford, deputy editor of FT Money and a judge, said: “Paperworks is a business that had enough confidence in its model to export it to new areas to produce some impressive evidence of growth and results. It has managed to increase its income substantially while providing skills and employment for vulnerable adults.”
Joanna Forsey of Paperworks said:
“We are thrilled with this Award. It is testament to all the team’s hard work and belief in the ethos of the organisation and gives recognition to the importance of the social impact we deliver. This year will be exciting as we continue to expand opportunities for our trainees, make new partnerships and build on our strong commercial foundations. Thank you to everyone who has supported us in the past and will do so in the future.”
Jane Austin, Operations Manager at Key Fund, said:
“As a social enterprise we seek to remove barriers to finance for other community and social enterprises. We believe in the power of people to find solutions to the challenges facing their communities and specifically operate in the gap where there is a huge cost to doing nothing.
“It’s wonderful to see how our investments into fantastic social enterprises and organisations such as Paperworks create and sustain jobs in disadvantaged areas.”
Responsible Finance have partnerned with the Citi Foundation to bring the global Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards to the UK for the third year. The awards celebrate the economic and social impact of responsible finance providers on the people and places of Britain, and champion the outstanding microentrepreneurs who are creating jobs, services and prosperity in their communities.
This year the prize fund has increased to £65,000 and the Award Winners were announced on the evening of 8th March 2016. More about the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards and this year’s winners.