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Chocolate business to help asylum seekers among award-winning ideas

Rose Codner, who plans to set up a chocolate making business to help asylum seekers

Rose Codner, who plans to set up a chocolate making business to help asylum seekers

Press release issued: 18 February 2013

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.

Social enterprises are businesses which trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment.  They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. 

Rose Codner, 29 and 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 won through the award scheme will help to get the project underway.

She said: “I'm so grateful to Basecamp for this support. 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 that 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.”

The application for the 'Try It' awards was made up of a written application followed by individual interviews.

Sam Fry, Enterprise Consultant at 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.”

The winners of the ‘Try It’ awards are:

  • Rhian Addison - Pop-up shop and website to enable struggling artists to sell their art
  • Rose Codner - Asylum seeker driven chocolate making business to fund education for asylum seekers
  • Elena Hensinger - Technology skills training for people aged 50+
  • Martin Hurcombe - Online package of self-help and self-assessment to help with the transition from Modern Languages at A-Level to a degree standard
  • Stefania Imperia - Online ethical shopping mall
  • Andrew Jack – Exploring ways to promote one off volunteering opportunities
  • Konstantinos Karachalios – Simplifying laws with through a website and facilitating legal knowledge with workshops in schools
  • Sophie McPhillips - Barcode app to scan product packaging to find out how to recycle different products
  • Matt Montgomery – Urban allotment business growing mushrooms and using profits to train both homeless people and ex-offenders
  • Will Pritchard - Business employing ex-offenders to redecorate and paint university students’ accommodation
  • Luke Purdye - Using surplus food from wholesale and retail to make chutney
  • Oliver Simon - Crowdfunding platform for local community projects
  • Dominique Tan - Time management mobile calendar application