£100,000 partnership to support social entrepreneurs in Oxfordshire

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Ben Wilkins of Sustainabus

A major new social entrepreneurship umbrella partnership for Oxfordshire, inspired by an innovative partnership between Oxford Brookes University, University of Oxford and Student Hubs, is being set up to support existing and potential social entrepreneurs in the region.

Due to launch in autumn 2014 and known as Oxfordshire Social Entrepreneurship Partnership (OSEP), this exciting new initiative is the culmination of many months of collaborative working.

A successful joint pitch to UnLtd, an organisation that supports social entrepreneurs in the UK and globally, has secured more than £100,000 to set up OSEP and for funding awards to local social entrepreneurs, including access to a growth and innovation fund.

The work of OSEP will be based on the existing components of the two Oxford-based Universities' social entrepreneurship programmes which together find, fund and support social entrepreneurs. These programmes are currently available to staff, students and recent graduates of both Universities. With the birth of OSEP, for the first time advice, support, masterclasses, mentoring and funding, will also be available to the wider Oxfordshire community.

John Raftery, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Student Experience) at Oxford Brookes, said: "The possibilities that OSEP can create for Oxfordshire and its community are endless. Innovation and a vision for social innovation in Oxford are high on the Brookes' agenda and we are pleased to take a leading role together with our partners. Social enterprise is currently one of the fastest growing sectors in the UK and with OSEP in place, Oxfordshire will be poised to reap all the rewards that seeding social enterprise can create, including positive social change and the roots of economic vibrancy."

UnLtd's awarding panel described the Oxfordshire bid as one of the strongest received and the judges were unanimous in their support.

Nationally, a total of eight regional clusters were supported by UnLtd, with Oxfordshire receiving the highest single amount awarded. Professor Andrew Hamilton, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, added: "So many of our students do such important and creative work in social enterprise which is of great benefit to the local community. We are delighted to work with Oxford Brookes and Student Hubs to support social enterprises and encourage new initiatives."


Picture: Ben Wilkins, Santander Young Social Entrepreneur of the Year in front of a bus he is converting into a low impact holiday home as part of his Sustainabus project.