"Witness sessions are an innovative and effective forum for nurturing budding entrepreneurs. I wish they'd been around when I was one!"
Georgie Fienberg, Afrikids
A big thank you to all of our witnesses over the years! Below are the profiles of just some of the witnesses that have delivered sessions at the SSE in the last few months:
Dave Miller, Bikeworks -a Fellow of the SSE, Dave Miller set up Bikeworks in 2008. Bikeworks is a social enterprise based in East London, that tackles environmental issues by getting more people cycling & make cycling as green as possible by recycling used bikes for re-use whilst at the same time creating employment & training opportunities for disadvantaged communities through their cycle into work programme. Bikeworks was named as the best new social enterprise in the UK 2009.
Georgie Fienberg, Afrikids - As a 17 year old British gap year student, Georgie Fienberg travelled through West Africa and worked at an orphanage in Accra, the capital of Ghana. She was amazed by the resourcefulness of local people and their ability to transform lives in difficult and culturally sensitive circumstances with relatively small sums of money. After supporting and visiting a babies home for five years, she and an old school friend Georgina Coombes registered AfriKids as a UK charity. Today, the small UK branch functions as a support partner to AfriKids Ghana, which operates a large operations with over one-hundred employees comprised of only local Ghanaians. In the coming years Afrikids Ghana will continue moving towards financial and managerial independence from its UK partner, who anticipates to become redundant in the next decade.
Charlie Cattell, has over 30 years experience of solving problems and developing opportunities for organisations with a social purpose.
Charlie's specialist areas include legal structures and governance, feasibility studies, and business planning. He has a great deal of experience of mergers, consortia and collaborative ventures and offer support with due diligence exercises.
Henry Stewart, Happy - Henry set up Happy Computers (now Happy) in his back room in Hackney in 1988. Happy provides training to transform organisations; Happy Computers enables companies to make the most of their IT, and Happy People help organisations create great workplaces. Happy’s activities also include sending trainers to Africa to create sustainable training centres, employing a deaf trainer to deliver in British Sign Language, endowing the rain forest, and delivering free training to support local charities.
Tokunbo Ajasa-Oluwa, Catch 22 - Tokunbo (a Fellow of the SSE) is a freelance journalist and founder of Catch 22 (C22), a dynamic social enterprise that aims is to engage, train and champion excluded young media talent – i.e. those that want experience but can't get any due to their lack of experience. Running as a parallel to his career in journalism, he has been involved with youth development work for 10 years. His experience includes mentoring, workshop facilitating, one-to-one counselling and programme coordinating for youth based in London since 1996. In October 2007 Tokunbo was appointed one of the 35 Social Enterprise Ambassadors on the three-year Cabinet Office endorsed nationwide programme.
Jackie Sear, E.A.S.E - E.A.S.E is a charity and is actively working to empower, inspire, enable and support personal and community development amongst 'socially excluded' people on Copley Close estate in Hanwell, Ealing, where Jackie lives. Jackie developed E.A.S.E. because of experiences she went through and witnessed in her personal and professional life. She feels that without a strong support network and basic education, those experiences could have crushed her.
Sheenagh Day, Maison Bengal - In 2004 Sheenagh established a fair trade company called Maison Bengal to try and demonstrate that effective and long-term development assistance to poor communities can be provided through trade, rather than aid. Maison Bengal works exclusively with local NGOs and smaller cooperatives in Bangladesh to import hand-made products to sell in the UK. All suppliers are actively working to improve the living conditions of their producers and Sheenagh’s long-term aim is to develop sustainable export markets for them to provide producers with secure income and thereby contribute to poverty alleviation.
Matt Hocking, Leap - Matt Hocking is in every sense a local lad made good – born, raised, shaped by and now based in his hometown of St. Austell. But his design agency Leap is anything but a parochial business, winning a string of national awards for both creativity and its commitment to sustainability and global change: making its mark by trying not to leave one.
Across just a year or so, Leap itself and the work for clients have been recognised by the Royal Society of Arts, in the Observer Ethical Awards, National Recycling Awards, Media Innovation Awards, Business in the Community Awards…even by a gold medal at the Hampton Court Flower Show, which seems aptly green.
A secure team of six, Leap offers design, print, web, marketing, events, photography, illustration and copy writing. Leap’s philosophy goes beyond their own impact on the climate. The team sources materials and supplies from local companies that are also committed, or willing to start, reducing their own impact on the environment, helping to ensure other companies do their bit to tackle climate change and wider issues. Mainly, with Leap, Matt has changed the way people think about design and, more broadly, how they work.