Ely chocolate business Harry Specters named as one of most promising microenterprises in the UK

PUBLISHED: 15:50 04 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:50 04 December 2017

Mona Shah of Ely-based Harry Specters, a social enterprise which makes and sells award winning chocolates and provides free training, work experience and employment opportunities for people on the Autistic Spectrum.

Mona Shah of Ely-based Harry Specters, a social enterprise which makes and sells award winning chocolates and provides free training, work experience and employment opportunities for people on the Autistic Spectrum.

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An Ely chocolate business which has provided training and work experience to 183 autistic people has been named one of the 16 “most promising microenterprises in the UK”.

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Harry Specters is an award-winning social enterprise founded in November 2012 which makes deluxe chocolates. It’s mission is to offer confidence and hope to young people with autism by providing employment and free training.

Founder Mona Shah was a corporate governance advisor with a love of chocolate, an autistic son and the mindset to make a difference.

Whilst undertaking a chocolate making course, Mona had an epiphany. She realised that making and packaging bespoke quality chocolate involves a series of very routine tasks; perfect for some individuals on the autistic spectrum.

Harry Specters has now grown to employ four full-time and five part-time employees (six of whom are on the autistic spectrum). The business was named one of four finalists for the “Social Enterprise of the Year” award in the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards, funded by the Citi Foundation.

Katy Ford, chief executive of Foundation East, said: “Harry Specters’ journey has required courage, innovation, clear vision and determination.

“The leaders have harnessed the skills and strengths of people with autism, getting them into employment, while growing a sustainable social business.”

Enrolment on the Cambridge Social Ventures (CSV) programme in January 2017 and a loan from Bury St Edmunds-based responsible finance provider, Foundation East, helped Harry Specters’ team to develop its business plan – and gain investment support worth £260,000 from funders including PwC, SSE, UnLtd and ClearlySo.

Harry Specters is now in the running for a £7,500 prize after judges praised the social enterprises’ impact, financial performance and their sustainability.

Bob Annibale, global director of Citi Inclusive Finance and Community Development, said: “Every year the Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards celebrate the innovation and talent of UK microentrepreneurs and responsible finance providers.

“The quality of applications was very high this year, and the finalists represent some of the best emerging microentrepreneurs in the UK who have enriched their local economies and communities.”

Harry Specters has already won more than 22 awards, including awards from the Guild of Fine Food and the Academy of Chocolate. The awards ceremony takes place on March 20 in Glasgow.

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