The Social Apprentice

The Apprentice television show – a battle between contestants’ wit, flair and business acumen.

But are these role models representing the best of British business and the current wave of innovation that’s sweeping across the business world?

At Social Enterprise UK, we think not.

That's in June 2013 we launched ‘The Social Apprentice’ campaign, to highlight the omission of social enterprises and social entrepreneurs from mainstream media, and call for a new version of 'The Apprentice', to help tell their stories.

Latest from the campaign

Following months of campaigning during the 2013 series of The Apprentice, we are now in discussion with the BBC and production companies to develop a television show about social enterprise.

We thank everyone who took part in the campaign, whether you signed the petition or made some noise on twitter.

You can still sign our petition, so if you want to see TV shows that recognise social enterprise, add your voice to the campaign.

Campaign objectives

The campaign has three main objectives:

1. Encourage the BBC to commission programmes that showcase the work of social entrepreneurs and social enterprises - people and organisations using business to create social change 

2. Engage with production companies interested in developing programmes that focus on social enterprises that are transforming business practices and challenging social problems 

3. Help social entrepreneurs and social enterprises, the change-makers in British business, use the media to tell their stories to the general public 

Campaign activity

Open letter

The campaign launched with an open letter to BBC One’s Acting Controller, Charlotte Moore. It explainedour position, and the need to recognise the social entrepreneurs using their business talent to help people and the planet in the BBC's television programming.

The letter is signed by social entrepreneurs, including John Bird, founder of The Big Issue, and Ben Ramsden founder of Pants to Poverty. Also pledging their support are previous participants of The Apprentice, including Tim Campbell MBE, founder Bright ideas Trust, The Apprentice’s first winner, and Melody Hossaini, Founder & CEO, InspirEngage International, who appeared in the sixth series.

By signing the petition, you agree to support the campaign's key objectives and supporting media materials. Your details will be used to contact you in regards to The Social Apprentice campaign activity only. Your details will not be forwarded to any third parties.

Who are the social entrepreneurs and social enterprises?

There are 70,000 social enterprises in the UK alone, employing more than a million people and generating billions of pounds for our economy.

Research shows that: 

  • UK social enterprises are outstripping mainstream SMEs for growth and creating more jobs relative to turnover.
  • The UK is experiencing a social enterprise start up boom in deprived communities, where they’re needed most.
  • Social enterprises are much more likely to be run by young people, women and black and minority ethnic groups than traditional businesses. 

Social enterprise - a global movement 


The social enterprise movement is growing and thriving. They are the organisations using business to tackle social or environmental problems.  Over the past two decades, their explosion onto the UK business scene is in answer to a growing call from the public, politicians and influencers for more responsible ways of doing business.


With business practices and behaviours changing, and many, especially young people, spurning mainstream business in favour of social enterprises, we believe it is time to let the blossoming social entrepreneurs prove their worth, and show what they’re capable of, in front of a global audience.

Social enterprises come in all shapes and sizes - some of the most well-known names in the sector include businesses like Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen, Pants to Poverty, The Big Issue, Belu water and Divine Chocolate.

New to social enterprise? Find out more about this global movement here. 


The best of British business

Below are just some of the social enterprises doing business in the UK.

Belu donates 100% of its profits to WaterAid. Since 2011, award-winning Belu has generated more than £330,000 for the clean water charity, transforming the lives of over 20,000 people in the developing world 

The Big Issue was set up to give homeless people a chance to earn a legal income, offering an alternative to begging, while using the content to campaign on the behalf of all socially excluded people. Weekly circulation figures top 135,000 in the UK alone.



Divine Chocolate
, the fair trade chocolate company which is 45% owned by cocoa farmers. When people buy their delicious chocolate, farmers receive a better deal for their cocoa and get a slice of the profits to invest into their communities

More social enterprise stories