The finalists for the 2016/17 Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, as chosen by the independent judging panel, are:
Microentrepreneur Award for Sustainability FINALISTS
Ocean Veg Ireland Ltd
Ocean Veg Ireland Ltd is a Northern Irish Food Company based on Raithlin Island. They have developed a new fresh and ready to use seaweed product called ‘Islander® Kelp’. Traditionally used within the Asian market, Kelp is known as a super food packed with calcium and iodine. The demand for kelp is increasing in the UK, Europe and US as high end restaurants introduce it onto their menus and its use in soups and wraps increases. Islander kelp is the only kelp farmed for food in the UK and Ireland, and the only producer of processed ready to use kelp foods in Europe. Cultivated in tanks, then transferred to ropes, the harvested kelp is cooked, cut into noodles, rinsed and frozen, ready to use in salads, stir fries, soups etc. Raw kelp is also sold for stock production for M&S.
Higher Rhythm Ltd
Higher Rhythm Ltd provides high quality accessible creative development opportunities, through provision of recording and rehearsal facilities as well as various accredited training courses in music, recording, media and creative technology for people who are socially or economically disadvantaged, to allow them to progress towards employment or further education.
Its unrestricted income is from radio advertising, private studio sales, music downloads, and consultation contracts. It operates from Doncaster which ranks 39th most deprived of 354 local authorities. These multiple deprivations result in large numbers of socially isolated people who do not participate locally and are hard to reach in arts activities.
Clayworks has innovated a 100% natural, sustainable clay plaster for interior walls that is revolutionising the interior- built environment globally. All plasters are formulated and manufactured in Cornwall. The product range was launched in 2011 and turnover has doubled each year to £750,000 in 2016. 2017 will see much greater growth as an international distributor has been contracted. Clayworks have skilfully navigated its market positioning from niche self- build and greenbuild into the luxury residential and commercial interiors market: clients include Foster and Partners, Nandos, and Alexander McQueen. They have exported to the UAE, Dubai, Malaysia, Australia, Singapore and more.
Microentrepreneur Award for Growth FINALISTS
The Source is the biggest BMX mail order company in Europe with a company turnover of more than £2.5million. Alongside the e-commerce side of the business, this year saw the opening of Source Park, the world’s largest underground skatepark regularly used by top international riders as well as locals, and in particular young people. A shop selling BMX bikes, parts, skateboards, clothes and shoes, and café is also located within the Source Park.
ISO Spaces is an innovative Cornish company that designs and manufactures bespoke modular buildings from recycled shipping containers. Trading since 2014, the company has quadrupled its turnover year-on-year. Uniquely, the company provides clients with the complete solution – from initial concept to on-site delivery, installation and maintenance. ISO Spaces is committed to the development of high-quality conversions that exceed expectations. All of their containers are carefully designed and converted in the UK into functional spaces for events, hospitality, retail, exhibition and accommodation for temporary and permanent business needs. Clients include Kodak, Jeep, BBC, Channel Four and Fever-Tree.
The Treat Kitchen is an independent, family run confectionery company which was set up by entrepreneurial couple, Jess & Martin Barnett, in Nottingham in September 2014. Martin & Jess thought it was time for the sweet shop to be modernised, and felt there was a gap in the market for a store selling quality confectionery in an attractive and modern setting, with quality packaging. They wanted to create a shop where the confectionery would be the star. Jess and Martin hope to create theatre within the Treat Kitchen also with their on-site fudge kitchen.
Young Microentrepreneur FINALISTS
Brett’s Pets is a family run pet shop and veterinary surgery, offering a wide range of food and products for most animals and exotic reptiles. A variety of animals are available to purchase including renowned, tame hamsters and a stunning array of exotic pets which have been personally bred by Brett. The business has recently opened a veterinary surgery within the store, offering customer’s old and new a range of services catering to their pet’s needs.
Kinetic Business Marketing
Kinetic Business Marketing is a direct marketing company, specializing in the technical sectors, Its focus is delivering clients a sizeable ROI, working with some of the UK’s best e-learning, training & IT companies as well as The New York Times. Kinetic differs to many of its competitors as it is flexible in its structure and comes highly recommended. It handles the entire lead generation process for clients allowing them to focus on closing sales rather than generating leads
Social Entrepreneur FINALISTS
Your Community Hub CIC (t/a The Gingerbread House)
YCH took over Humberston library due to closures by local government. It established a café, and rents space to local businesses. YCH developed a range of fee paying activities for the community, alongside a book loaning club. It became self-sustaining within 6 months.
It works towards financial sustainability to preserve and improve 2 local libraries - victims of market failure. In the past 18 months, it has kept two libraries open, one in the most deprived area of the country. 50% of Humberston holds the library, the remaining area the café, retail space and areas for activities. Market research within the community established the demand for a tearoom and community meeting space, including parent toddler classes.
Miss Macaroon is a social enterprise specialising in the production of distinctive macaroons for both private and corporate clients and was established by social entrepreneur and trained pastry chef Rosie Ginday, in 2011. Differentiating itself from competitors, Miss Macaroon markets itself as a premium brand, with all macaroons being high quality, gluten-free and encased in luxury packaging. Although the company adopts a premium pricing strategy, Rosie is still mindful of price and realises that she needs to remain competitive against the likes of Selfridges who have a more recognisable brand at present.
Fabric is a semi independent living provision that provides high quality accommodation and support to 16-17 year old young people who are either Looked After by the Local Authority or Care Leavers. Fabric was set up to address a need for provision specifically for this age range that provides a positive environment from which to transition successfully into independence at 18. Fabric is a 6 bedroom property designed to ensure young people feel invested in to support self worth, encourage engagement in education/training/employment and a safe space to develop the required skills needed for a positive adulthood.
Effective Partnership Working FINALISTS
Co-operative & Community Finance
The Just Growth partnership is a collaborative project supporting innovative and sustainable businesses, through a combination of blended grant investment provided by Esmée Fairbairn, loan finance from Co-operative & Community Finance and specialist business support through the FEA network. The partnership was built on strong existing relationships with the three organisations who came together with a common aim: To support a thriving co-operative food and farming sector and establish new models for farming that attract the young and groups working cooperatively, creating both financially and socially successful businesses on the land.
Robert Owen Community Banking
The Swansea Community Energy & Enterprise Scheme (SCEES) involves the installation of solar PV panels on the roofs of Swansea schools and public buildings in some of Wales’s most deprived areas. This will result in a cheaper, cleaner renewable source of energy for schools and a valuable educational resource as pupils will be able to interface with monitoring software and interpretation panels. In the summer of 2016 SCEES secured a bridging loan with Robert Owen Community Banking to fund the Capital Installation of its first scheme. Other income generated from the scheme will be invested in enterprise, employment, skills and job creation by the local community. A community share offer has funded installation work. SCEES enables local people to realise and take advantage of the value within their community.
Social Investment Scotland (SIS)
SIS, in a new partnership with Asda, has launched the UK’s first ever Social Enterprise Supplier Development Academy, with the aim of increasing the availability of social enterprise products for ethically-minded consumers on supermarket shelves. Using funds from the single use carrier bag levy, the Academy offers social enterprises the opportunity to access Asda retail expertise and SIS tailored investment and business support - all with a view to scaling their operations and supply Asda within the next 12 months. By promoting social enterprise products as an alternative to their commercial counterparts, Asda is providing a unique opportunity for social enterprises to increase their revenues and in turn create more sustainable and long term social impact.
Outstanding Customer Service FINALISTS
In 2015 Fair Finance identified delivering outstanding customer service as the key to delivering on its mission, growth targets and new level of FCA regulation. In particular, it was worried that a new compliance culture could take hold and undermine personalised responses to people’s situations. The key to its success hasn’t been changes to its product, it’s been building this all on its company values, and re-enforcing this with performance management and compliance, all focused on clients and ensuring they get a positive outcome.
BCRS Business Loans
BCRS Business Loans understands that providing business loans comes with huge responsibilities, which is why it aims to create a stress-free experience for customers with its strong cooperative values, allowing them to focus on the most important task – running their business. Right from the initial enquiry stage through to the drawdown of funds and eventual settlement, BCRS believes in providing a relationship-based approach to lending. BCRS tailors its processes to suit its customers, which is why it offers two convenient ways of submitting enquiry forms – either over the telephone or using fast track online submission.
Wessex Resolutions CIC
Wessex Resolutions’ staff are managed with the same cultural values as those it delivers to its stakeholders and clients. Highly motivated staff teams, supported and empowered to deliver high-quality services; in turn creating highly focused customer services with its clients and stakeholders at the heart of all it does. Loans are delivered face to face in people’s homes. Wessex Resolutions completes financial assessments with its clients and discuss suitable options to meet their needs and means. Flexible loan products ensure responsible lending that’s tailored to each individual client. Everyone’s circumstances are different, so lending decisions are made by experienced people.
Outstanding Loan Officer FINALISTS
Tim Daniel, Finance For Enterprise
Tim is a hard working individual that has consistently been the top performing Loan Officer/Investment Manager at Finance for Enterprise. He has been an invaluable member of the team to help deliver the growth in investment activity as it has expanded its loan product offering, geographical area of coverage and maximum loan advance amount. Tim is renowned for his high levels of tenacity, maintaining contact with prospect businesses for lengthy periods of time, on occasion having a deal gestation period of up to a year from first contact to drawing down a loan.
Wesley Lovett (BCRS Business Loans)
Since joining BCRS Business Loans in 2014, Wesley’s commitment to making finance accessible to Midlands based businesses has gone from strength to strength. He has established himself as a respected member of the local business community and set new standards for the BCRS Business Development Team by passing the Diploma in Business and Commercial Banking & Conduct qualification from the London Institute of Banking & Finance. As a role model for the BDM team he has motivated and inspired them all to study for this qualification giving further quality assurance to BCRS, its funders and customers.
Sandra McLean (DSL Business Finance Ltd)
Sandra has a strong sense of social justice as well as being an absolute stickler for "doing the right thing" and doing it well. These personal mantras are fundamental to how Sandra conducts herself and they have been consistently exhibited throughout her long service with DSL Business Finance Ltd. Sandra's record as a loan officer stands up to real scrutiny and she is someone who has demonstrated an ability to support clients requiring Alternative Finance over a 20 year period.
Natasha Forchin (Fair Finance)
Since joining Fair Finance, Natasha has embodied respect and empathy with clients. Listening and understanding without judging are the qualities that allowed her to develop strong bonds with her clients and colleagues alike. Natasha trained and mentored many staff members who later became successful loan officers in her branch or elsewhere in the organisation, while also developing strong client relationships. With these skills, she was able to slowly build a wide customer base and make a new branch one of the most successful in the organisation.
Responsible Finance Leader FINALISTS
Paul Barry-Walsh (Fredericks Foundation)
Fredericks Foundation was founded by Paul Barry-Walsh, in 2001. In the years since, Fredericks has transformed the lives of thousands. Fredericks has started over 1500 businesses, created over 2000 jobs and lent over £5 million. Not only does Fredericks provide financial support but also business advice. After struggling to start his own company due to lack of funding, Paul wanted to help small businesses experiencing the same adversity to funding he did. And still today, Fredericks has never been more relevant. The foundations experience has proven Pauls belief, that hand ups not handouts are the key to a successful business.
Arthur Foreman (Finance For Enterprise)
Arthur joined Finance For Enterprise (“FFE”) in 2009 to relaunch what at that time was a completely dormant loan fund and organisation. Since then under his stewardship, he has taken the business from completing no investments at all, to delivered in excess of £23m of total lending, which shows the extent of his skill in rejuvenating the Company and the tangible improvement in access to finance within its market. The crucial role Arthur has undertaken has meant that FFE has seen increases in its lending capacity, performance and social impact demonstrated by its annual loan investment activity, staffing and geographical area of coverage continuing to grow year-on-year via the energy and commitment he manages to provide.
Karen Davies (Purple Shoots)
Karen is the founder of Purple Shoots, a registered charity using expertise in business lending to give the chance for many who stand no other chance of assistance to establish a small business and an income. It also runs a number of ‘self reliant’ groups which reach people who are further away from work and are often marginalized and isolated. They help them to think of meaningful activities for themselves and their communities. She has established Purple Shoots from scratch as a unique provider of microfinance in Wales because of its focus on unemployed and disadvantaged people. Based in and operating from one of the poorest parts of South Wales, the impact of Purple Shoots is significant. She has built it into a recognised and respected organization and has made over 275 loans, lending over £600k in 3 years helping around 250 people out of unemployment.