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Social entrepreneurs win Cambridge prize for pandemic response

The second annual Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, awarded by Trinity Hall and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School, to help four outstanding social entrepreneurs.

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As businesses struggle through COVID-19 lockdown, many social entrepreneurs face an unexpected challenge: unprecedented demand for their services, which address deep needs in the community.

The second annual Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, announced today, will help four outstanding social entrepreneurs to meet this increased need with a £10,000 grant and advice from experts at the University of Cambridge.

The Prize, awarded by Trinity Hall and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at Cambridge Judge Business School, will enable four leaders in health, employment and community services to boost their own leadership capacity so they can meet new challenges head-on.

Addressing unmet needs in healthcare, social prescribing firm Elemental Software helps frontline health workers connect vulnerable patients to community services; and volunteering platform GoodGym combines getting fit with doing good, linking joggers with volunteering tasks on their morning run.

Boosting employment, mobile phone repair company Cracked It gives ex-offenders work experience and employability training; while community-owned bakery Homebaked is rebuilding Liverpool high streets ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’ through local retail.

Baroness Glenys Thornton, former Minister for Health and a key figure in the social enterprise sector, was one of this year’s judges for the prize.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health crisis, but also a crisis of social care and the economy,” she said. “Social enterprises across the UK have formed a key plank in our national response to the pandemic, responding in unique and creative ways to the health and economic crises. They need our support to meet the explosion in demand for their proven, impactful interventions.”

The prize is intended to support the winners’ growth as social CEOs and the growth of their businesses, with a £10,000 grant for professional development, 10 days of business advice from experts at Cambridge Judge Business School, and introductions to new partners, investors and other opportunities.

“The University of Cambridge has contributed significantly to the medical response – we are now proud to be able to support the economic recovery by supporting businesses whose work is 100 per cent focused on creating positive social impact,” said Dr Belinda Bell, who leads the team delivering the prize.

“Our support will help social CEOs develop personally and professionally so they can lead in rebuilding the economy on more equitable and sustainable terms.”

University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall) alumnus Graham Ross Russell has generously supported this prize as part of the College’s ongoing work to nurture entrepreneurial ambition among its students and academic fellows.

Meet the winners

Josh Babarinde – Cracked It (London)

Cracked It is a smartphone repair service, staffed by young ex-offenders to support them away from crime and towards employment. They reduce the friction of smartphone repair by bringing their services directly to the consumer with regular pop-up repair clinics in 25 large workplaces across London.

Jennifer Neff and Leeann Monk Ozgul – Elemental Software (Derry, Northern Ireland)

Elemental is a social prescribing platform already being used by 310 hubs across the UK and Ireland. It connects people to community services and resources, such as gardening, walking groups and debt advice, which enhance health and wellbeing. They are also committed to scaling and measuring the uptake and impact of the social prescribing model of care.

Ivo Gormley – GoodGym (London)

GoodGym is a fitness community that combines exercise with volunteering for community projects and supporting isolated older people. Their mission is to make it as easy as possible for people to use their exercise to benefit their community, and by doing so increase health and wellbeing and reduce isolation and loneliness.

Angela McKay – Homebaked (Liverpool)

Homebaked is regenerating the high street ‘brick by brick and loaf by loaf’, using money that is spent in the neighbourhood to benefit the community. They run a community land trust and co-operative bakery co-owned and co-produced by people who live and work in the Everton and Anfield area of Liverpool.

View the full shortlist