Business case studies from South Cambs
Thinking about starting a social enterprise?
Social enterprises come in all sizes, from small community cafes to international organisations.
Setting up a social enterprise - or transforming a charity, public sector or private business into one can be daunting, exhilarating and challenging experience.
Sawston-based Harry Specters makes award-winning chocolates, but there's a higher aim behind the company, providing employment opportunities for people on the autism spectrum.
The company was inspired, and named, by founder and managing director Mona Shah's teenage son, who is himself on the autism spectrum. On a visit to a chocolate shop during a family holiday to Scotland, Mona had the idea to combine two passions - chocolate and making a positive impact for people with autism.
According to the National Autistic Society only 15% of people with autism of working age in the UK are in full time employment, with 61% of those currently unemployed looking for work. Harry Specters employees are assured of a safe and supportive environment, with the freedom to use their strengths.
As a social enterprise, for every £ of profit they make, 60p will be set aside for furthering the social aims of business, providing social activities for valuable employees and opportunities for personal development.
Mona explains “Our main target sector is corporate customers and within that space, we do not have any competition”. Shaz Shah, co-founder and director of strategy, adds “We offer them a great product for a great cause at a premium and they buy from us in order to improve their CSR credentials”.
Harry Specters has in fact featured in the Financial Times and was a finalist in both the Social Enterprise Awards and PwC awards for Social Enterprise (Sustainability Category) in 2014. This year, Mona has also been nominated for a Daily Mail Mumpreneur award. The company is a multiple Great Taste Award winner and scooped the Guardian Social Enterprise award in 2014 for the best Easter egg. Find out more about Harry Specters and their products at www.harryschocs.co.uk
If you are interested in starting a social enterprise, Social Enterprise UK has produced a guide to starting your social enterprise. The guide takes you through the essentials from finding investment and funding to deciding on the most suitable legal structure for your social enterprise.
You may also find it useful to visit gov.uk here for the government’s guide to setting up a social enterprise.
Other websites that may help with starting and running a social enterprise include
- Inspire2Enterprise www.inspire2enterprise.org
- Social Enterprise UK www.socialenterprise.org.uk
- UK Government website: www.gov.uk/set-up-a-social-enterprise