The Employee Ownership Association (EOA) has launched the second EOA Investment Award, which is open to businesses thinking about making the move to the employee ownership model.
The £10,000 award is sponsored by the John Lewis Partnership, and was announced at the EOA Summer Dinner in June by Deb Oxley, CEO of the EOA, ahead of Employee Ownership Day (1 July).
“The EOA Investment Award is an exciting opportunity for all business owners and business founders who are exploring a move to employee ownership and provides a valuable incentive for accountants and other advisers to share with their clients,” said Ms Oxley, who further outlined her ambitions to move employee ownership into the mainstream.
Ms Oxley called for: every accountancy firm to have at least one specialist accountant who can advise clients on the business benefits of employee ownership by 2020; the business education curriculum across both higher and further education to includes comprehensive coverage of employee ownership as part of the syllabus; and every lender to have at least one local expert who fully understands employee ownership as a positive and credible business model and is favourable to lending to it.
The EOA is a not-for-profit and politically independent organisation that represents businesses which are employee-owned or transitioning to employee ownership across the UK. It supports a diverse network of more than 300 companies, and has seen the employee-owned business model continue to grow by 10% annually in the UK.
“Employee ownership can offer a range of benefits such as more motivated and engaged employees, higher levels of innovation and the ability to invest long-term,” said John Lewis Partnership registrar, Simon Fowler. “We’re delighted to be sponsoring this award.”
Last year’s winner was Dowding Precision, a small, high tech, high skill, family run business, manufacturing everything from parts for Formula 1 cars to surgical instruments.
“Dowding Precision has long been committed to the idea of employee ownership as a viable exit strategy and a way of leaving the business as it was created – with a culture focused on taking care of our team and driving growth of the business,” said Mary Antcliff, Dowding Precision company secretary.
“Practically, the monetary value associated with the Investment Award has enabled us to ensure a smooth transition to employee owned status, with the correct finances in place to fund the move. However, certainly the most valuable aspect of winning the award has been the status and legitimacy it has added to our venture.”
Applications for the award are being accepted now, and the the closing date for submissions is 30 September 2016. The winner will be announced at the EOA conference on 22 November.
The award is looking for businesses to apply which offer a compelling story, and that can inspire others to become employee owned, while making an important contribution to the competitiveness of the UK economy. The judges will take into account how winning would make a material positive difference to the ability of the business to become employee owned, and are also interested in hearing from businesses that have an additional social or possibly charitable dimension.