A chance to shine

Business Link Yorkshire is launching its annual search to find the region’s most dynamic and innovative social enterprises.

Entries for the Social Enterprise Awards, now in their sixth year, open on 15 June. Judges are looking for outstanding examples of businesses that are delivering real social impact and competing effectively in a commercial market.

We are looking for examples of best practice that would be groundbreaking in more traditional commercial businesses. Social enterprises are operating in the same economic climate as other businesses so we are looking for those that are bucking the trend.

We want to find business that are making real difference to their communities and turning in strong economic and financial performances despite the current economic conditions. They might be creating jobs or have grown the business significantly in the last 12 months.

Last year Pit Stop 2000, with bases in Elland and Bradford, won the top award, Social Enterprise of the Year. It started in a deprived part of Halifax 19 years ago with a single go-kart and a simple aim – to help young people to become active, honest citizens.

Today the praise of the Queen, Princess Anne and the Prime Minister is testament to how triumphantly Pit Stop 2000 has achieved this ambition.

Often social enterprises don’t realise just how good they are. These awards are a great way of benchmarking your performance and achievements against others.

Through a package of support that includes workshops, consultancy, mentoring and specialist advisers Business Link has helped more than 400 social enterprises to start up or to grow in the last year.

There are five categories in the Social Enterprise Awards: Start up of the Year, Social Enterprise in Education, Innovation in Enterprise, Social Entrepreneur of the Year and Social Enterprise of the Year. The closing date for entries is July 17.

To enter go to

Ten tips for entering the Social Enterprise Awards 2009

1. Enter the right category – check the categories and make sure that you are entering the right one for your social enterprise

2. Read the questions – what information are you being asked to give and is there a word limit on your answers? Make sure that you cover the criteria

3. Tell the judges what you have achieved

4. Make a list of all achievements and strengths – ask your team or a critical friend for feedback. Choose your strongest achievements

5. Ask for help to fill in the entry and use the word limit – if writing or filling in forms isn’t your strength then ask a colleague or perhaps a board member for help. (Although judges will not be marking your writing style you do need to ensure that you have included all the necessary information about your achievements) Our preference is for typed rather than handwritten applications

6. Answer factually and honestly – judges will be looking for evidence of your achievements and how you have made a difference. Don’t waffle – simple facts, written in bullet point style, are fine and easy to read

7. Use third party endorsements – feedback and quotes from third parties, whether clients or partner organisations, provide strong evidence to support your entry

8. Don’t leave it until the last minute
– plan ahead – discuss with colleagues and allow time to write your entry in rough

9. Proof read – ask someone to proof read your entry, not just for any spelling mistakes but to make sure that you have answered all the questions and done justice to your achievements

10. Tell the judges why you are different – judges will be looking for social enterprises that stand out – make sure that you do!

11. It’s easy to enter

Winning an award is a great way to promote your social enterprise and even win new business.

Good luck!


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