Social Entrepreneurs bring good business practice and social conscience together and at the end of the month they count a different kind of profit.

Social enterprises fill in the gaps left by bad state services, they help societies most needy individuals and set out vision for a better future. As austerity grinds on and inequality rises this means more work for an ever growing industry. Despite all this, Social Entrepreneurs do not get the same recognition as that of their more business focused entrepreneurial cousins. Meet some of Britain's Social Entrepreneurs and ask yourself, what do you believe in?

Mel Young

President at Homeless World Cup Foundation

“We have created a world now of two worlds. The worlds of the haves and the have nots' ... if you are in the have not world you’ve got problems.”
Mel Young along with Harald Schmied created the Homeless World Cup, an international football tournament exclusively for homeless people. The event provides players with a goal through which to change their lives. The whole idea is mad and exiting and most surprisingly, highly effective. Out of all the homeless persons, drug addicts and failing asylum seekers taking part, 80% go on to make positive changes in their lives, away from the streets into housing and into jobs or college. The Homeless World Cup addresses a serious issue that has devastating effects on people in every country in the world. Football does not provide food or shelter, it does not change government policy nor does it create lasting jobs. What it does have is an unexplainable power that can transform people and place, when channeled in the right direction that power can facilitate great change. Mel Young is a social entrepreneur. He tackles societies problems head on with innovative ideas and good business sense. His success is measured in lives saved.

Shauneen Lambe

Executive Director at Just for Kids Law

“[this government] is stopping the voices of the small person, the citizen being heard in the courts. The courts are going to be the places of the huge corporations or governments, no one else is going to be heard”
“It was quite frustrating being in court and getting results but realizing you were not resolving the problems in their life” Shauneen Lamb practiced as a criminal layer in the UK and then as an attorney in the US representing people facing the death penalty. Now she runs Just For Kids Law, an organistion that works with young people in the criminal justice system as well as training other legal practitioners. In the UK 80% of youth offenders go on to re-offend. With this statistic alone, it is clear the current system is a failing thousands of young people each year. The cost of incarcerating a young person for a year can run up to 200,000 pounds, conversely the average cost for a Just for Kids Law mentor to work with one person for the same time is around 1,000 pounds. As a social program Shauneen and her team make a real difference to the lives of young people where as the state system destroys lives and eliminates potential. Furthermore Just For Kids Law is vastly more cost effective. This is the essence of social enterprise – positive change for all created through an informed and well-executed process.

Annys Darkwa

Managing Director at Vision Housing

“Because I believed in what I was doing, and I wanted to give people an opportunity. Everybody is entitled to a roof.”
Annys Darkwa started her social enterprise on the first day of her realise form prison. During her sentence she saw how time after time repeat offenders came back into prison because their only support network was that of drug abuse and crime. Annys on her first day of freedom tackled the problem directly. She started by knocking on doors and persuading landlords to accept ex-offenders with her working as intermediary. For ex-offenders, having a safe, clean and independent place to stay is the bedrock from which they can turn around their lives and create a better future. The problem of offenders falling in and out of prison is endemic, Vision Housing have created a highly effective solution to the problem. Yet it took Annys a further 2 years of running the organisation on money from her basic benefits before the work was recognized and funded. Despite a lack of experience, a lack of funds and all the stigma that comes with being a ex-convict, Annys created a highly successful organization helping thousands of people live better lives. And through an independent evaluation Vision Housing is thought of have saved the state 10 billion pounds. And how did she do all this? “If your going to do something, believe in it whole heartedly and you can achieve it, you can achieve what ever you want”

Rufus Pollock

Founder and CEO at Open Knowledge Foundation

“People say that knowledge is power, well open knowledge is empowerment”
From government spending or cultural heritage to the results of scientific research and the ingredients in our food, the Open Knowledge Foundation aims to make accessible information on all aspects of our lives. In the century of information Rufus Pollock believes that data must be universally shared and utilized in a way that scrutinizes authority and informs the public. Rufus started with UK policy based activism and now through the Open Knowledge Foundation works around the world systematically removing the legal, technical, and social barriers in the way of creating a true open information society.
Lorenzo Tedeschi web_ashoka_011_sm

Founder of What Nature Offers

“you need to find an idea that is not just good for you but goes on to fill a gap in society”
Lorenzo and his Ethical Purchasing Group unlike the others in this list, is looking for monetary profit. His new start-up imports high quality foodstuffs direct from the producers in Sicily to students in London. He pays a fair price to the Italian farmers and by undercutting corporations, manages to sell the produce in London for less than the likes of Waitrose and Sainsbury. He is a classic social entrepreneur taking on an old business in a new way. What makes him a social entrepreneur is his solid commitment to social values. He is aware of everyone in his supply chain from producer to consumer, getting the best deal. This benefits society at large as well as his personal business.