Celebrating entrepreneurial spirit: the 2022 finalists of the Entrepreneurs’ Award in Social Innovation

The Company of Entrepreneurs Trust has launched EASI- the Entrepreneurs’ Award in Social Innovation

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A NEW Award from The Company of Entrepreneurs’ has been created in celebration of entrepreneurial spirit – the desire to turn challenges into successes and find the right answers to give the world exactly what it needs.

The mission of the Award is to support entrepreneurs during the early stages of project development by awarding a £10,000 grant, a package of support and fellowship including mentoring, networks and introductions to other sources of funds, as well as access to other services and opportunities.

The Award’s success was made possible by EASI’s Champion Avi Lasarow & Prenetics and EASI’s supporters Tony Matharu & Blue Orchid Hotels, BritAsia.tv, Briars Group, The Trampery, Tribe Advisory, Champions UK PLC, Savage Macbeth and Judy Hadden.

The response to the inaugural Award received was enormous, with over 200 high-quality applications from skilled, daring and tenacious entrepreneurs all excelling in their own fields and dedicating their talents to changing the world.

The Award’s ceremony

From a long list of 39, 17 applicants were shortlisted by the Trustee Board of the Company of Entrepreneurs Trust, with five being invited to pitch to a panel of judges, which included Judy Hadden, Kate Jolly, Tony Matharu, Tomas Halgas, and Avi Lasarow. 

The five-minute pitch was followed by a Q&A with the judges, and the audience was also able to provide their opinion through an interactive voting app.

Avi Lasarow spoke about his own inspiring entrepreneurial journey before presenting the winner’s certificate, while Tony Matharu of Blue Orchid Hotels spoke to welcome the Freemen and guests to the stunning Blue Orchid Hotel Tower Suites in London, also underlining the importance of human as well as financial philanthropy in supporting the professional discipline of entrepreneurship.

Although all finalists put forward truly inspiring projects, it was impact venture Pastoral, co-designed and incubated by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UK-based developmental innovation company Karakoram, who was to be selected as the winner.

Pastoral uses AI to provide farming data to low-income farmers in low-connectivity areas to help them farm more sustainably, minimise C02 emissions, and reduce land degradation. 

The finalists

The winners’ drive and determination was matched by the rest of the finalists, supporting varied equally important environmental and social causes. 

Bristol Braille Technology, a not-for-profit organisation with the backing of a community of hundreds of Braille readers, was shortlisted as a finalist with its product Canute 360, the world’s only full-page Braille display. 

Its inspiring mission is to enable blind professionals to share in the wealth and culture of our economy, as well as build a new domestic industry that will encourage them to learn computer science. 

Next on the list of finalists was charitable incorporated organisation Groundwater Relief, whose purpose is to alleviate poverty by helping others develop and manage groundwater resources. 

The charity developed a prototype of a mobile phone app that allows non-technical users to monitor groundwater levels and instantly send data back to their national water authorities. 

This allows countries to better manage their water resources, thus enabling focus to turn to education and economic growth.

Jennifer Davis, fundraising manager at Groundwater Relief commented: “We are delighted to have been selected as a finalist for EASI and to have been able to present our ideas to such an inspiring panel. It was a great opportunity to network and interact with a new audience.

“Our mission is to prevent and relieve poverty by providing technical support to the humanitarian and development sector to ensure everyone has access to clean water. 

“We also aim to teach countries how best to manage their own resources so they can move away from reliance on aid provision. 

“We see our prototype being widely used around the world to support groundwater resource management and to improve or create groundwater monitoring regimes, and we are excited to continue to develop and introduce our product to more markets worldwide,” added Jennifer.

Increased female vulnerability at night and drink-spiking in the UK resulted in the development of Where You At (“WYA”), yet another brilliant finalist for the Award. 

Featured in The Guardian and TimeOut, this award-winning women’s app uses Bluetooth and micro-location technology to allow users to find friends in the night-time economy when there is no signal, in an inspiring mission to promote safety. 

The last finalist, LEAP Micro AD‘s SOURCE, addresses the need for sustainable food production, greater food security and equitable green employment and training. 

SOURCE aims to help local communities and businesses reach net-zero carbon targets by combining mechanical engineering, design, ICT, business development, training, and food-growing skills with a focus on delivering local economic, social, and environmental benefits.

“We were pleasantly surprised to have been selected as a finalist. Being able to meet so many other entrepreneurs with such inspiring missions was an incredible experience,” said Rokiah Yaman, managing director and co-founder of SOURCE.

SOURCE is a circular, zero-waste food model that combines innovative tech, smart urban farming, and circular enterprise opportunities to create healthier food options and manage waste more effectively, as well as improve air quality and biodiversity.

“SOURCE is designed to be modular, flexible and scalable across cities, towns and villages, decarbonising food production – a sector responsible for a quarter of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,” adds Rokiah.

“It follows the waste hierarchy to support communities and businesses in reducing waste, then treating unavoidable food waste where it’s produced, using by-products such as bioenergy, bio-fertiliser, and compost to grow food and prioritising local consumption to preserve nutrients, stimulating local circular economies.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to have been able to present our project to other talented entrepreneurs and individuals who believe in our vision and in supporting one another.” 

The Company of Entrepreneurs was ecstatic by the response and the support received by sponsors as well as the quality and diversity of the finalists’ projects.

The organisation’s aim is to be able to support more entrepreneurs in their social and environmental innovation development journey with future editions of EASI, and promote the Award further to extend its reach. 

To learn more about the Entrepreneurs’ Award in Social Innovation and the entrepreneurial journey, get involved or help support the cause, please visit: https://www.entrepreneurscompany.org/easi 

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