How QMUL social entrepreneurs are making a positive impact on their communities
The word ‘entrepreneur’ often conjures up images of individuals with bright ideas making billions of pounds of profit for themselves and their shareholders.
But in recent years there has been an explosion of social enterprises, with 20% of new UK businesses now considering themselves to be “socially driven”.
A social enterprise is a business that exists primarily to address a social or environmental issue, rather than to make profit for its shareholders (although it is revenue generating in order to be self-sustainable rather than reliant on grants).
A good FAQ factsheet on social enterprise can be found here: www.socialenterprise.org.uk/about/about-social-enterprise/FAQs
Queen Mary Enterprise has supported a number of students who have set up social enterprises to address environmental issues they feel passionate about:
James Borrell, PhD Conservation Genetics
Discover Conservation: www.discoverconservation.org/
Discover Conservation is an innovative online social enterprise platform. It aims to inspire an increased awareness in conservation by sharing adventurous real-life stories from scientists working in remote and challenging locations around the world. As well as learning about important issues such as deforestation and climate change, readers will also discover what it’s like to dive on a remote and pristine coral reef, or trek for days through virgin rainforest, learning answers to questions such as ‘what are the highlights and most moving experiences?’, and ‘what are the most challenging aspects of working in the field?’. Most importantly, all of the profits generated through advertising on the website will go towards bursaries for the next generation of young biologists to embark upon projects of their own.
Miriam Agat, BA English Literature
Simple Animal: www.simple-animal.com
Simple Animal is an ethical t-shirt label which combines ethical and green standards with high street fashion and style. The materials used are fairly traded, as well as vegan, organic and easy on the environment (no animal-derived products are used in the materials or production process). Simple Animal has close relations to charities and donates a percentage of profit to these.
James Johnson, BEng Mechanical Engineering
Paradise Cycles: www.paradisecycles.co.uk
Paradise Cycles is a social enterprise set up to support a stronger cycling community in East London. It offers engaging workshops that teach cyclists how to repair their own bikes, while at the same time offering an affordable bike repair service and custom bike building service to encourage more people to use this green method of transport.
If you’re a QMUL student or recent graduate (of up to two years) and feel inspired by these stories we’d love to hear from you!
Our ‘Try It’ awards provide up to £500 for students or graduates with an idea they’d like to test, while our ‘Grow It’ awards provide up to £5000 to existing businesses or social enterprises that need funding in order to develop.
To find out more book an enterprise appointment by calling 020 7882 8533, or visit www.careers.qmul.ac.uk/students/enterprise/Funding/
The next deadline is 5pm on Friday 20th March, 2015.
 According to ‘Social Enterprise Day 20th November 2014 Facts and Figures’: http://bafts.org.uk/social-enterprise-day-20th-november-2014-facts-and-figures/