Contributor Recommends: 12 social businesses of Christmas

For December’s Contributor Recommends, we spoke to Rob Powell, Head of Pro Bono & Corporate Responsibility at Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP. Rob manages the full breadth of the London office’s award-winning CSR programme, including the Women of Impact programme with Prime Advocates which supports women-led social enterprises, a few of whom are mentioned in the list below. In his spare time, Rob enjoys running marathons to raise funds for charity; writing, recording and performing music; and recently published his first children’s book. He lives in Hertfordshire with his wife and two children. 

With the festive season in full swing, I thought this would be an opportune time to provide some inspiration on what gifts to buy for loved ones.  I’m proud to share with you my ’12 Social Businesses of Christmas’ – a list of organisations that produce high-quality products that create a positive social impact.

You can thank me in the New Year!


    • Something stylish…

      Check out Birdsong, an ethical fashion brand that unlocks the hidden talent in minority women’s groups who are fantastic seamstresses but often face challenges when taking their beautiful clothing to market. They connect women, from worker to wearer. They use plus-size models and don’t use photoshop in their product photos – what more do you want?!


      • Something cute…

        From Babies with Love is one of the more established social enterprises out there. Every penny of profit from their ethically sourced designs goes to orphaned and abandoned children around the world – they’ve so far helped over 4,000 children.


        • Something fragrant…

          The Soap Co is a luxury brand brought to you by Clarity – the UK’s oldest social enterprise.  All of their soaps are hand-produced by vision-impaired or disabled people in their factory in East London (a truly magical place that you should visit to see what true Inclusion looks like).


          • Something delicious…

            Treat your loved ones to a unique private dining experience with Mazi Mas, a social enterprise that provides training and employment to help migrant and refugee women build careers in the food industry. All food is cooked by these tremendous women who are only too happy to share their stories with diners as they cook and serve the food.


            • Something comfy…

              We all know socks are the most boring gift for Christmas but not now, check out Stand4Socks, socks that stand for a cause. For every pair sold, they donate a pair to a homeless shelter.  They also have socks that are made from a unique bamboo recipe!


              • Something cool…

                Know the Origin aims to achieve the highest standards in the fashion industry, combining style, convenience, price, and ethics. They’re currently running a pop-up store in Brighton but you can shop online for very cool men and women’s clothing.


                • Something refreshing…

                  In the interests of research I had to sample a few of these…ahem ahem…Toast Ale produces truly beautiful beer made with surplus bread. Since launching, Toast has upcycled around 750,000 slices of bread to create a truly refreshing and crisp beer. All of their profits go to charities that work to prevent food waste. The best thing since sliced…


                  • Something prudent…

                    Finding it hard to buy for a loved one who has everything? How about opening an account and putting some dosh in it for them? Shared Interest is an ethical investment organisation that pools it’s 11,500 investors’ cash to lend to people in remote and less-advantaged communities to trade their way out of poverty.


                    • Something sweet…

                      This is the time of year when we’re allowed to eat a bit (a lot) more chocolate than usual, so why not reduce the guilt and tuck into Divine Chocolate, one of the pioneers of the Fair Trade movement?


                      • Something fun…

                        Check out Gingerbread City, an annual exhibition where architects, designers and engineers create an entire city made out of gingerbread.  Developed by the Museum of Architecture, the aim is to connect the public with architecture. Hosted by the V&A Museum and ideal for the whole family, but be quick, the exhibition ends on 6 January.


                        • Something rural…

                          Church Farm, Ardeley (near Stevenage) is a working farm in which all its produce is made without the use of fungicides and pesticides. It has a lovely café, pub, overnight camping and cabin hire, and of course a farm which employ local people with intellectual disabilities. A favourite day out for the kiddies in the Powell Household!


                        • Something buzzy…

                          Urban Bees is an awesome organisation that helps bees thrive in built-up environments. Purchase pollinator-friendly trees and flowers for loved ones or even some Regent’s Park raw honey.

                         

                         

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