Here are the five nominees for the Best Social Enterprise Category. Each of these social enterprise projects has been set up by one of the Universities within the SETsquared Partnership. 


Gladrags – University of Bath

Gladrags is a not-for-profit organisation that works with individuals who struggle to find employment in the formal labour sector. Gladrags teaches individuals how to make handmade, eco-friendly products, while providing opportunities to gain experience in operating a business and other skills necessary for employment. Products are made from locally sourced, up-cycled fabric using simple crochet techniques. The service Gladrags supplies will result in increased employment opportunities for participants of the programme.

Gladrags’ mission is to impart the necessary skills for the long-term unemployed to gain future employment or set up their own businesses, through developing confidence, creativity and capital.

Crafted products are an increasing entrepreneurial opportunity for many people in today’s changing society. Our products range from rugs, placemats and coasters, to large and small clutch bags, wallets and handbags. The Gladrags customer is dedicated to supporting social change  with an affinity for handmade and locally sourced products. Our customers want affordable, yet distinctive and useful products, while receiving a friendly, personalised service, accompanied with the option to shop anytime online.

Gladrags  was a finalist in the Bath Business Plan Competition.


FoodCycle Bristol – University of Bristol

The UK generates over 16 million tonnes of food waste every year, costing an estimated £22 billion and accounting for 10% of all our carbon emissions, whilst 4 million are living in food poverty in Britain.

The solution? FoodCycle Bristol. Every Sunday surplus food is transported from local shops to a community kitchen using bike trailers. Here volunteers prepare a free 3 course meal for an average of 50 beneficiaries who are offered a place at the table in a welcoming setting. Volunteering themselves, beneficiaries can also gain valuable skills and character references to improve their chances of employment.

The project is made financially self-sustainable via the fortnightly Student Restaurant serving 120 students. Again the meal is made from surplus food but this time guests pay £3.  The restaurant is also a platform for University ethical and environmental societies.

With over 500 volunteers, widespread engagement from the community and having registered just under £3000 profit this year, we are in an excellent position to set up a second community kitchen.

Bristol University has provided free storage space and a venue for our Student Restaurant events. In addition, the support of the University press office in obtaining media coverage has been extremely helpful.


Every Foot Has a Home - University of Exeter

Every Foot Has a Home is a social enterprise which allows all people to help the homeless living on their own street, by the selling of fashionable, unique socks, and for every sock sold, a pair of socks will be donated to a homeless person in their local area. By giving socks the quality of life of many homeless people will increase, since owing  to the simple lack of clean, dry and durable changes of socks, many homeless people are afflicted with terrible foot hygiene and infections. An easy solution to a huge problem.

The socks are manufactured ethically through a partnership established with a small business in India, allowing the customer to make a worldwide and local impact from their purchase.

Relationships are also being developed with national homeless charities who have a regional presence and can advise and support the distribution of socks to homeless people in the area selected by the purchaser.

Currently the business is in the development stage but we have confidence from the initial responses that Every Foot Has a Home has the potential to generate a profit from sock sales as well as having positive impact locally and internationally.


SIFE Southampton – University of Southampton

EnterpRICE combines agricultural investment and community development to improve the lives of Sierra Leone farmers and their families.

This year, following a detailed needs analysis, £5,600 has been invested in the project, which facilitated the purchase of a power tiller for the communities, which increased the size and value of the rice yields. This means that the project has improved revenue, which has seen farmers’ wages double and employment rise from 100 to 160 farmers.

In addition, the increase in revenue has allowed the establishment of a community development fund, and to date, this fund has sponsored the education of 33 children, benefitting the long-term empowerment of the community.

Putting in place a repayment scheme using a portion of the increased revenue will enable SIFE Southampton to continue to work on this project, maintaining its partnership with the NGO, Planting Promise, and supporting the community. With the continued support of the University as a result of successful Consultancy bids, through the expertise of the Business Advisory Board and the Enterprise Team University Advisors, it is envisaged that the SIFE team will be able to expand this successful concept elsewhere.


SIFE Surrey – University of Surrey

One of the biggest issues facing the rural population of Thailand today is the destruction of crops due to flooding. As the only source of income for these individuals is lost, they are unable to afford the essentials such as food, education and healthcare, therefore driving families and communities apart in search of employment. Aided by a £4000 grant facilitated by the University, we established a method of extracting the outer casing of the rice (husk) and using it to stuff pillows. The husk, which is otherwise burnt (releasing CO2), can still be utilised when flooding occurs, thus diversifying the risk for the farming communities and reducing the environmental impact.

The market for these pillows has shown great promise, with numerous single unit sales to date, and now with promise of our first contract sale of 100 units. The sale of an average pillow is between £30-£40 whereas we are able to make a £7.40 profit when sold for £10 per unit.

So far we have increased the income of the farmers we have worked with by 150%, and set up a manufacturing environment which can provide a capacity of 270 units per day, giving great scope for the future.