Gone are the days where entrepreneurs start businesses to make a profit and live the high life. In 2019, more and more entrepreneurs are placing a mission to do good and change the world at the very heart of what they do, often sacrificing profits entirely.
Whether they’re building not-for-profit social enterprises, or profit-making businesses with a social mission, these are the 20 most exciting social entrepreneurs in the UK in 2019.
Alex Stephany – Beam
Alex Stephany is the founder of Beam, a crowdfunding platform that funds career training for homeless people in London. Already an entrepreneur, Alex became increasingly frustrated and saddened by the growing number of homeless people and did something about it. Alongside homeless charities, Beam works with its members to create a career plan before their campaign is made public. Once a member has completed their training, Beam continues to work with them on things like a CV and interview preparation.
Stephen Addison – Box Up Crime
Having lost some of his closest friends to gang crime in 2012, Stephen Addison launched Box Up Crime in 2013 to inspire, educate and develop young people involved in criminal activity. Box Up Crime utilises the power of sports, particularly boxing, to create awareness of social issues and build confidence among communities and schools. Since launch, Box Up Crime has worked with over 2,000 young people in the Barking and Dagenham and contributed to a 25% drop in crime for the area.
Josh Babarinde – Cracked It
Josh Babarinde is the founder of Cracked It, an award-winning social enterprise phone screen repair company that employs young people involved in knife crime. Its mission is to use smartphone repair to educate and mentor at-risk young people, develop their skills and create opportunities to transition into future employment.
Peter Ackred – Disability Sports Coach
Peter Ackred is the founder of Disability Sports Coach, a charity which provides sporting and physical activity opportunities for disabled people. In addition, the organisation works with thousands of coaches to offer added training, enabling them to specialise in working with disabled people. Over the past three years, Disability Sports Coach has delivered over 5,000 hours of physical activity and trained over 6,000 coaches across 300 courses.
Cecilia Crossley – From Babies with Love
Cecilia Crossley is the founder of From Babies with Love, a babywear and nursery brand that commits all of its profits to orphaned and abandoned children around the world. The From Babies with Love Foundation works with other charities to provide homes, education, healthcare and post-traumatic care. All of the brand’s clothing items are made from ethically sourced materials.
Si Martin & Hannah Morgan – Head Above the Waves
Si Martin and Hannah Morgan are the founders of Head Above the Waves, a not-for-profit organisation on a mission to raise awareness of depression and self-harm. Head Above the Waves offers advice and practical workshops with creative coping techniques including art, music, writing and meditation. It also sells a popular range of clothing designed to spread positive messages.
Celia, Becky & Kate Hodson – Hey Girls
Hey Girls is a Community Interest Company which tackles period poverty by giving a girl or woman a pack of sanitary products for every one bought. Celia Hodson launched the company with her daughters Becky and Kate to ensure no female has to miss school or work because they can’t afford sanitary products. All of its range is made from 100% natural and environmentally friendly materials, while it also encourages the use of reusable sanitary pads and menstrual cups. Hey Girls also works with schools, youth groups and communities to educate everyone, male and female, on periods.
Wendy & Simon Tarplee – Little Princess Trust
Wendy and Simon Tarplee are the founders of Little Princess Trust, an organisation that provides real-hair wigs to young people with hair loss and funding to childhood cancer research. The husband and wife launched the company in 2006, a year after their daughter Hannah died of a Wilms Tumour which caused her to lose her hair. Since then, Little Princess Trust has provided over 7,500 wigs to sick young people and is expanding its offering across Europe.
Tamara Rajah – Live Better With
Tamara Rajah is the founder of Live Better With, a marketplace and community dedicated to providing products and advice for people living with cancer and other conditions. Together with patients, nurses, doctors and experts, Live Better With has handpicked a range of 1000s of products designed to help cope with the side effects of cancer, or even the menopause. It also provides over 250 practical advice guides and has built a community of over 70,000 people to help and support each other.
Dave Linton – Madlug
Dave Linton is the founder of Madlug, a backpack and luggage brand that uses the ‘buy one give one’ approach to ensure no child in care needs to carry their belongings in a bin bag. The former youth worker learned that most need to use bin bags and started the company soon after. The bags fold neatly to fit into a sock drawer or social worker’s car boot, and each one is labelled with ‘You are incredible’ to encourage each child to believe in themselves.
Steve Harper, Richard Metcalfe and Paul Varley – Oddballs
Steve Harper, Richard Metcalfe and Paul Varley are the founders of OddBalls, an underwear brand raising money and awareness to fight testicular cancer. Worn and endorsed by some of the world’s biggest sporting stars, OddBalls is known for its colourful and quirky designs. In addition to raising money, OddBalls long-term mission is to fit ‘check yourself guides’ into every male toilet and changing room in the UK.
Alison Hutchinson CBE – Pennies
Alison Hutchinson CBE is the founder of Pennies, the digital platform that allows consumers to donate small change to charity in an increasingly cashless society. Whether paying by card online or instore, Pennies allows customers to round up their purchase to the next pound with a donation. Since creating a new stream of fundraising, Pennies has generated millions of pounds for charities across the country.
Sara Hawkins – Projekt 42
Sara Hawkins is the founder of Projekt 42, a not-for-profit gym and wellness centre that focuses on building a greater connection between physical and mental health. While offering everything you’d expect from a typical gym, Projekt 42 also offers counselling, life coaching, and meditation and yoga classes. It also works with the local community to provide free memberships, counselling and coaching for those who need it most.
Kate Nash OBE – PurpleSpace
Kate Nash OBE is the founder of PurpleSpace, the world’s only networking and professional development hub for disabled workers. Designed to ‘build disability confidence from the inside out’, PurpleSpace works with some of the UK’s biggest employers to establish networks and enable disabled workers to flourish while supporting each other through the everyday experiences of long-term illness and disability.
Marie Macnamara MBE – Smalls For All
Small For All is a charity created by Marie Macnamara MBE, which provides underwear to help poverty-stricken women and children in the UK and Africa. The organisation accepts monetary donations, as well as new pants and bras and lightly worn bras. In Africa, the support goes to women and children living in slums, internally displaced persons camps and schools, as well as hospitals and those suffering from conditions such as obstetric fistula. As of May 2019, Smalls For All has collected over one million items of underwear.
Josh Littlejohn MBE & Alice Thompson – Social Bite
Having started as a not-for-profit sandwich shop in 2012, Josh Littlejohn MBE and Alice Thompson are the founders of Social Bite, which runs a variety of projects to raise money and end homelessness in Scotland. Social Bite has five cafes across the country and distributes 140,000 items of food and hot drinks to homeless people every year. It also builds villages to help homeless people get back on their feet, and operates a ‘pay it forward’ system in all of its cafes. Social Bite is also the organisation behind the world’s largest ever ‘sleep out’ to raise money and awareness for homelessness.
Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE – Stemettes
Anne-Marie Imafidon MBE is the founder of Stemettes, a social enterprise that works to inspire and encourage young girls to take up science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers. Since launching in 2013, Stemettes has worked with 40,000 girls across events, workshops, mentoring programmes and experiences. Its long-term goal is to increase the proportion of women in STEM job roles from 21% to 30%.
Adam Smith – The Real Junk Food Project
Adam Smith is the founder of The Real Junk Food Project, an organisation tackling food waste around the world. Started in 2013, it has intercepted over 5000 tonnes of food before it goes to waste, saving the equivalent of nearly 12 million meals. Across a range of projects, The Real Junk Food Projects works with a number of cafes, sharehouses, schools and community groups to ‘feed bellies not bins’. Its head office in Wakefield acts as a ‘social supermarket’ containing only food destined for landfill.
Louisa Ziane – Toast
Louisa Ziane is the founder of Toast, the UK’s only zero-waste beer that is made from surplus bread. With 44% of bread wasted in the UK, Toast has saved more than one million slices of bread from going to landfill, which has also saved nearly 25 tonnes of CO2 emissions. By using less barley in its production, Toast has freed up nine hectares of land. Placing social good at its heart, Toast has also raised £25,000 for environmental and hunger charities.
Tim Morfin – Transforming Lives For Good
Tim Morfin is the founder of Transforming Lives For Good, a charity working with churches across the UK to support vulnerable children of all backgrounds who are experiencing emotional trauma, holiday hunger and school exclusion. Since launching, Transforming Lives For Good has supported over 10,000 children and young people. The organisation offers one-to-one mentoring and runs lunch clubs to help prevent children going through summer holidays without a hot meal.
Entries for the 2019 NatWest Great British Entrepreneur Awards are now open. You can register and enter for free here.