New Economy in Twenty Enterprises

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Chosen by the REconomy Project, June 2013:

"Welcome to the UK’s top twenty ‘Transition oriented’ social enterprises. Combined these enterprises have a turnover of £3.5 million and provide paid employment for more than 100 people.

  1. Bath & West Community Energy Bath, Somerset Energy – renew. generation
  2. The Big Lemon Brighton Transport – bus
  3. The Bristol Bike Project Bristol Transport – bike
  4. Bristol Pound (with Bristol Credit Union) Bristol Finance – local currency
  5. DE4 Food Matlock, Derby Food – distribution
  6. DotDotDot Property Guardians London Housing – empty buildings
  7. The Handmade Bakery Slaithwaite, Yorks Food – bakery
  8. Hestia Care at Home Totnes, Devon Health – care
  9. iSmooth Community Café Ammanford, Wales Food – café
  10. London Creative Labs London Services – employment/enterprise
  11. Norwich FarmShare Norwich Food – CSA
  12. The Raven Inn Llanarmon-yn-Ial, Wales Food – pub
  13. Renewable Energy Co-operative Truro, Cornwall Energy – renewables installation
  14. Repowering London London Energy – renew. generation
  15. The Restart Project London Waste – re-use & repair
  16. Robert Owen Community Banking Powys, Wales Finance – loans & investment
  17. SpareWheels Dunbar, Scotland Transport – car club
  18. Totnes Sustainable Construction Totnes, Devon Housing – retrofit/construction
  19. Transition Homes Totnes, Devon Housing – affordable new builds
  20. Uig Community Co-operative Shop Isle of Lewis, Scotland Retail – community shop


Michelle Denton & Fiona Ward:

"Each of these enterprises demonstrates a different way of working from business as usual – they are sustainable, offer some social benefits and have shared ownership, while providing essential goods and services for the community in which they make their home. They provide jobs for local people, as well as volunteering opportunities, and they buy from other local independent businesses. Most have emerged from a local Transition group or have links to Transition in some way.

Individually they are great examples, but the transformative potential is really clear when we picture them all operating together in one place… and we suggest that all of these enterprises are needed everywhere, given they meet our basic needs including food, energy, transport and housing. They illustrate what a new kind of community-led, place-based economy might look like, and show that the building blocks – the viable business models – are already in place and highly replicable.

We know there’s a large market opportunity for a re-localised economy based around local, independent businesses and supply chains. This has been quantified in 3 sectors so far – food, renewable energy and retrofitting homes – in REconomy’s Local Economic Blueprint work earlier this year. This top 20 provides working models for the kinds of enterprises that can turn this opportunity into reality. We offer this report as a stimulus for government, funders, the Transition movement and other community groups and entrepreneurs to see the enormous potential in the community enterprise sector.

The story behind the list

Our top twenty coops, charities, community interest companies and social enterprises are about people – people who have the vision, passion and creativity to identify a new, more sustainable way of doing business and, in the process, are changing their communities, local economies and the world one step at a time.

In the case studies that follow, each enterprise tells us, to one degree or another, how they are guided by a different approach to doing business and sharing profits and how they impact and interact with their community, society and the environment. In other words, we think they meet the definition of a “Transition oriented social enterprise”: a financially viable trading entity that fulfils a real community need, delivers social benefits and has beneficial, or at least neutral, environmental impacts." (