Chocolate will sweeten the burden of Bristol's asylum seekers
A project to fund education for asylum seekers in Bristol through making chocolate is just one of the “socially conscious” business ideas which have been awarded vital funding to help them grow.
A total of £10,500 has been awarded by the University of Bristol to 13 different social enterprises being run by its students and staff.
In addition to the funding, the winners will also receive support and guidance from Basecamp – the university’s dedicated student start-up space – to make their idea a reality.
The University of Bristol, alongside the HE Social Awards programme from social enterprise charity UnLtd and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), launched the new Try It awards to develop expertise, skills and knowledge in social entrepreneurship and social enterprise activity.
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Rose Codner, 29, who is studying for an MSc in International Development, has worked with refugees and asylum seekers in Bristol for the last three years.
She plans to launch a Fairtrade chocolate making company to foster the creativity of people in this position, helping them to develop skills and address issues of loneliness and marginalisation.
The £800 Rose has won through the scheme will help to get the project underway.
“I'm so grateful to Basecamp for this support,” she said. “They have provided 100 per cent of the start-up funding, without which this project would certainly not have been able to come to fruition. So, the next step is to begin buying moulds and raw materials, to book the local community kitchen and to start experimenting.
“I hope the money raised will go towards paying for participants to attend adult education courses in local institutions such as the Folk House. For those not allowed to work, this could be a valuable way to gain skills and access education.”
Sam Fry, enterprise consultant at the University of Bristol, announced the winners at Lions’ Den – a social enterprise pitching event run by Bristol Social Enterprise Society.
He said: “We believe that supporting social entrepreneurs both financially and non-financially are key ingredients to success. These awards are not just financial – Basecamp will give each award winner dedicated support throughout the time they spend developing their business.
“Between us and UnLtd’s award managers, we aim to provide a supportive and flexible framework which allows them to develop their own skills and abilities – not just that of their business.”
Other winners included Rhian Addison, who plans to open a pop-up shop and website to enable struggling artists to sell their art; Elena Hensinger, who is devising technology skills training for the over-50s; and Stefania Imperia, who has devised an online ethical shopping mall.