A leading Sussex sight loss charity has received a prestigious national award endorsing its innovative approach to fundraising. The Social Enterprise Mark has been awarded to Torchlight, based in Brighton, in recognition of the work it does to help visually impaired people live fuller and more independent lives. Charity director Emlyn Evans said: “Torchlight has been supporting the blind and visually impaired since 1869. The charity has evolved in that time, and now provides much-needed practical assistance for sight-impaired people, as well as education and social integration. Our methods of raising money, which is crucial if we are to continue providing these services, has also developed in recent years.” He continued: "Increasingly we are moving away from traditional ways of fundraising in favour of more innovative methods. We are always seeking work with businesses and the local community in ways that are mutually beneficial.” Currently, the charity’s dedicated team of outreach workers supports more than 2,500 people in the community and several community groups meet at the Brighton centre to participate in arts, IT and fitness sessions.
Oxley’s is a beer brand with a difference. Founded two years ago by six people working in local government, the company donates all its profits to local homelessness charities. The six co-founders all still have full-time jobs, and do not earn anything from their work – except a sense of enormous satisfaction from helping deserving charities and producing a delicious product. When they started, they didn’t expect to sell more than a couple of hundred bottles, mainly to friends and family, but word of the beer’s quality got around, and to their delight, it became a roaring success. Their flagship beer, Oxley Pride, can now be bought in supermarkets, including Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and last year – their first full trading year – they sold more than 75,000 bottles. Accordingly, Day says their sights are now set higher than they could have imagined when they started. The team are hoping to sign a contract with a UK-wide distributor, which could see their product sold in pubs across the country.
Sebastien Veyrolla isn’t your typical entrepreneur. Three years ago he founded Gramadre, a company that aims to provide access to cheaper food to millions of people in Honduras and other developing countries. The company buys staples like rice, beans, lentils and sugar in bulk from suppliers before distributing them to vending machines in local grocery stores. Customers can fill small containers with the products, but only pay the same amount per gram as if they were buying in bulk. “By cutting out the middlemen and doing away with packaging costs, we have been able to half the price of these essential staple foods,” says Veyrolla. Within eighteen months, Veyrolla has plans to expand into neighbouring Nicaragua and Guatemala. While the company currently only sells food, it has plans to start selling other products like detergent. Gramadre only sells to small grocery stores, in order to help them compete with the big supermarket chains.