THE UK's leading social entrepreneurs are set for an expenses-paid visit to successful American not-for-profit businesses.
This year's annual New Statesman Upstarts awards ? supported by both Co-operative Action and the Co-operative Bank ? is offering six winners a working trip to the fifth gathering of the Social Enterprise Alliance in San Francisco.
The conference will be held next March and the trip, part of a £ 20,000 awards package, will give a real boost to the knowledge of the UK's growing social enterprise sector.
The six categories in this year's Upstarts Awards are:
? Upstarts Achievement Award
? Social Entrepreneur Award
? Young Social Entrepreneur Award
? Social Enterprise Award
? Best Revenue Model Award
? Best Elected Advocate for Social Enterprise Award.
Government Minister Nigel Griffiths said at last week's launch of the awards scheme: "The Upstarts Awards shine a spotlight on the strong social purpose and entrepreneurial drive of successful social entrepreneurs across the UK.
"As Minister with special responsibility for social enterprise, I want to ensure that we do all we can to encourage, grow and sustain the sector."
Simon Williams, Director of Corporate Affairs at the Co-operative Bank, commented: "We have long recognised the shared heritage and business values of co-operative and social enterprises.
"Social enterprise is already an important contributor to the national economy, but we must demonstrate its success and so the bank is delighted to be backing these awards for entrepreneurial excellence."
Spencer Neal, publisher of New Statesman, added: "As a judge I am always impressed by the sheer range of innovative social businesses operating across the country. I wish more people – especially in the private sector – understood more of the potential of social enterprise."
Nominations must be made online at www.upstarts.org.uk before January 7, 2004. Nominators are asked to enter as soon as possible.