Deloitte, the business advisory firm, today announces the first social enterprises selected to join its Social Innovation Pioneers programme. The 30 businesses were selected for their innovation in tackling social and environmental challenges with new business approaches, and for their high growth potential.
Deloitte will provide over £1m worth of tailored, in-kind support to the Pioneers, including bespoke guidance from senior advisers from the firm who specialise in each specific market area or growth challenge, as well as workshops on common issues such as investment readiness and leadership.
The programme has been created to accelerate success in the burgeoning social enterprise sector. The sector already contributes an estimated £24bn to the UK economy, and has the potential for significant future growth.
The Pioneers have been selected from across the UK and have revenues ranging from £14,000 to £26m. The organisations cover a variety of sectors, including: healthcare; technology, media and telecommunications; environment; consumer business; financial services and manufacturing.
The Pioneers include Autism Works, a company that specialises in software design and data manipulation. It takes positive action to provide sustainable employment to people with an Autism Spectrum Condition and Asperger’s Syndrome as qualified test analysts. The positive traits of the condition can make for exceptional test analysts – for example, attention to detail, persistence, precision, a methodical nature, curiousity, high intelligence and often a 'different' way of looking at things are common positive traits for people on the spectrum.
Peter MacDonald, managing director of Autism Works, said: 'We are absolutely delighted to have been selected as a Deloitte Social Innovation Pioneer. We believe Autism Works can make a major positive impact on business, technology, society and most importantly on people with an autism spectrum condition, their families and friends.
'In the UK only 15 per cent of 500,000 people with autism are in employment. We aim to grow a world class, sustainable enterprise that harnesses the very best talent from the private sector with the aspirations and social values of the third sector. Deloitte’s guidance and support will be invaluable in helping us to ensure that we can reverse this appalling statistic.'
Heather Hancock, managing partner for talent and brand at Deloitte, said: 'The response to our programme was overwhelming. Innovative and high potential businesses in this exciting sector want and deserve recognition for their pioneering spirit, and to help them succeed with their growth ambitions. It’s a heartening contribution to the country’s growth agenda, and the innovations we witnessed in these businesses are a powerful driver for their future success in the UK market and beyond.
'We’ve found an exciting mix of Pioneers – from start-ups to more established businesses, from healthcare spin-outs, to cooperatives, technology companies to consumer businesses. We’re realistic about the challenges and risks that lie ahead for us and for our Pioneers – there is no guarantee of long-term success in this challenging market. But we’re really excited about the opportunities this will bring for us to help them deliver sustainable social impact, as well as what we can learn.
'The response to the programme within Deloitte has been very positive – a huge number of employees from across our own business have volunteered to work with the Pioneers and are looking forward to helping them reach their full potential. And many of our clients have asked to get connected – they want to understand the sector, include these businesses in their supply chain, and find opportunities to work with them in the future.'
Deloitte received more than 300 applications from across the UK. All of the applicants had to demonstrate a sustainable positive impact and high-growth potential. Of the applicants, 81 were then invited to a face to face interview with partners from Deloitte, and representatives from partner organisations including Social Enterprise UK
, Big Issue Invest
, London Business School
(sister company to SocialEnterpriseLive.com).