Top social enterprise award recognises ‘extraordinary’ founder of Bristol youth social enterprise

July 17, 2023

Poku Osei, the founder and CEO of Babbasa, the Bristol social enterprise transforming the lives of young people from ethnic minority and low-income backgrounds, has won a unique social enterprise award.

The Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, which was launched five years ago, celebrates five exceptional social entrepreneurs and recognises their achievements and ambition in creating social change through business.

The annual prize is awarded by Trinity Hall and the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation at the University of Cambridge, supported by a generous donation from Trinity Hall alumnus Graham Ross Russell.

The awards are made to extraordinary founder-CEOs of scale-up social enterprises to support their growth as leaders.

Uniquely, it recognises mid-career social innovators, and includes a £10,000 cash award for personal and professional development.

Additionally, mentoring from experts at Cambridge Judge Business School and support from an expanding community of social innovators at Trinity Hall will help them to develop the skills, resources and networks they need to create more impact from their work.

Poku launched Babbasa in 2013 in response to the growing gap in the economic achievement of young people from some of Bristol’s most diverse and disadvantaged inner-city communities.

His aim was to help 16 to 25-year-olds fulfil their potential in education, employment or in enterprise.

Since then Babbasa has supported more than 4,000 individuals, spanning more than 60 cultural groups, providing mentoring, skills training and recruitment support to successfully advance their professional ambitions through its network of over 500 cross-industry organisations.

It has also attracted widespread acclaim – and a clutch of awards – for the way of has transformed the lives of so many young people in a city judged to be the seventh worst in the UK for inequality and with an ethnic employment gap twice the national average can move forward.

Poku said: “I feel honoured to be receiving the prestigious Social Innovation Prize from Cambridge University, on the 10th anniversary of Babbasa.

“Taking into consideration where I’m from, this award reinforces for me that we can all descend the limits of our predefined story and pave the way for the future we desire.”

Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation executive director Nicole Helwig stressed the prize’s importance in the social enterprise space.

“On this the fifth anniversary of the Cambridge Social Innovation Prize, we are thrilled to celebrate five outstanding individuals,” she said.

“They come from diverse backgrounds with expertise and skills channelled towards creating social impact.

“They represent their ventures, but also the many people who work alongside them, behind the scenes and who are empowered through their efforts.”

For more information on Babbasa, click here

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