Are social enterprises doing enough…. good?

Published on April 3, 2013 in Blog, Project news

Or do we need to embrace their good work and, for those of us so inclined, push the envelope further towards a new orientation?

Social enterprise is the new buzzword – and many are flocking towards it for the associations it produces. At REconomy, we’re interested in potentially raising the bar….

So, we’re experimenting with ideas around Transition-oriented social enterprises and to kick-start the debate, we thought we’d run a small competition.  Of course, we also mean community-owned or led enterprises…

And this is where you come in.

We’re looking for the Top 20 Transition-oriented social enterprises changing their communities, the economy and the world…. And we’d like you to nominate them.

The enterprise with the most transformative potential will win a mentoring session with Gordon Roddick, entrepreneur, social activist and founder of the Roddick Foundation. In addition to his work with the Foundation, Gordon co-founded the Big Issue and the Body Shop.

The top 20 will also be included in our report to the Roddick Foundation, the funders of this project, and no doubt, benefit from great publicity by the discussion and momentum we’re going to build!

You may be asking what do we mean by Transition-oriented and how it differs from your typical social enterprise? We define a Transition-oriented social enterprise as follows:


A financially viable trading entity that fulfils a real community need, delivers social benefits

and has beneficial, or at least neutral, environmental impacts.


These new enterprises may emerge directly from the Transition movement or be completely independent of it.  What we aim to do is offer examples of businesses doing things differently.

For a fuller examination of how we see a “Transition Enterprise” see here”. As you will note, this is in draft so we’d love to have your feedback and input.  Please do feel free to comment, tell us if we’re on the right, or wrong, track and follow progress on Twitter and Facebook.  (Please use #Transition #socent hashtags if you’re Twitter-inclined.)

Most importantly, who comes to mind?  Share please….

We aim to collect great examples of exciting Transition-oriented enterprises – from different sectors of the economy with a focus – at this stage – on the UK.  When we’ve collected the best and the brightest, with the help of Rob Hopkins and the REconomy team, we’ll select the top 20 who best represent a move towards a more sustainable, local, low carbon economic model.  The business that most resonates to our mini-panel will win a mentoring session with Gordon Roddick so do send in your nominations and spread the word.

Our intent is to craft a story that demonstrates the power of the collective.  Individually these enterprises might not have a wide impact, but together, in one place, they could truly transform a local economy.

Who would you like to nominate?  In order to ensure that everyone is working from the same foundation, we’d like those interested in participating to fill in a simple form with information about your enterprise.

If, on the other hand, you know of an inspiring example, please do send us the name of the enterprise and a web link.  The competition closed on 22 April 2013.

You can download the application form here.



15 Reader Comments

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  1. Dave Lucas says:

    I’d like to nominate the Zeitgeist movement for its educational materials for transitioning into a new economic paradigm. Please see

  2. To webmaster: please change the default font to veredana, or something similar, for readability and beauty.

    On April 7 all the pics are broken links.

    A PALE pastel background would be more attractive than white.

    Good luck.

    • Fiona Ward says:

      Hi Bruce
      Thanks for the feedback, the picture link is now removed. We are continually looking to improve the website so I will add your suggestions into the mix.

  3. TTBolton says:

    Would like to nominate – The Kitchen – A workers coop with a difference, offering links to organic growing projects, work experience for refugees and volunteers alike with a high street cafe.

  4. Hello

    I would just like to remind us all that social enterprises were formed in the late 1970s as a financial viable, social wealth creator and environmental responsible trader. As alternative to private ownership and financial profit motive. For communities, we started in mid 1970s, to form and register community enterprises that are the same in many ways as social enterprise only that they are orientated and even focused on community ownership. They hold community assets, employ local people, use trading and profits for community benefit, operate environmental responsibly trading and are increasing around the world. There are thousands of community enterprises, we have 3 in the very small town where I live, and it would, I think, be a mistake to ignore them and pretend to have developed something new when it already exists, there is far too much of this sort of waste.

    If you would like to see more I believe the organisation that promotes and supports community enterprises is now called Locality. I’m sure you will find it online.


  5. Michelle Denton says:

    Hello Freer, thanks for your feedback and input. Would you care to post the names of the three in your town? No intention to ignore them at all — quite the opposite… Thanks also for the pointer towards Locality – Will be in touch with them via social media.

  6. Jane Mason says:

    Hello! I am trying to e mail you as regards a nomination but the e mail address you provide above is not working. So, here is the body of the e mail:

    Dear Michelle

    I would like to nominate Virtuous Bread/Bread Angels, a social enterprise dedicated to changing the world through bread. In addition to teaching baking classes to paying students and, on a voluntary basis (schools, prisons, shelters) we teach people how to set up micro bakeries. These are the Bread Angels and there are over 100 in the UK. Some people have paid themselves and others have been sponsored (Peabody Trust, Richmond Council, and Ex-Cell have sponsored people). The objective of teaching baking is so people can feed them themselves (and whomever else they want), learn a vital life skill, and build self esteem. The objective of helping people set up micro bakeries is to create job opportunities for people who would like to run their own business, working from home, and build links into their communities. Many of the Bread Angels are earning a living running micro bakeries and some of them now employ others as well.

    The link to the VB site is:
    The link to the BA site is:

    I hope you consider this nomination favourably. Please send me an application form if that is appropriate. Kind regards, Jane Mason

  7. Zoe Reason says:

    I’d like to nominate OVESCO – the Ouse Valley Energy Services Company! The first community energy company in England. We love them and their work.

    • Michelle Denton says:

      Hi Zoe, I saw the news about their share offer. Pls encourage them to apply. The competition deadline is Friday. Thanks, Michelle

  8. That is a nice, succinct post on the emerging area
    of social entrepreneurship. It integrated helpful concepts
    on where you get started, small business ideas, and types of
    successful endeavors.