Chocolatier in Ely scoops another award for its employment and training support to autistic people
An Ely-based chocolatier has won another trophy for its cabinet after it was named the UK's 'social enterprise of the year'.
Harry Specters was recognised by Citi Microentrepreneurship for its impact through employing, training and supporting autistic people.
They scooped a prize of £7,500.
The company has now grown to employ four full-time and five part-time employees – six of who are autistic.
It has already provided training and work experience to more than 180 autistic people and plans to double revenues in the next two years in order to create more employment for people with autism.
Speaking at the awards ceremony in Glasgow, co-founder Mona Shah, said:
“We’re absolutely over the moon to have won and that the judges understood the underlying ethos of the business and what we are trying to achieve. And of course I have to say that we couldn’t have done this without the support of Foundation East.
“Thank you so much to Citi and I really hope you’ll be buying chocolates from us for all of your events.”
During a chocolate making course, Mona realised that the precision and step-by-step process to create and package bespoke quality chocolate makes it ideal for some autistic people.
Mona and her husband set up the firm having been concerned about career opportunities for their son Ash who is autistic.
A loan from Bury St Edmunds-based responsible finance provider, Foundation East, helped Harry Specters’ team to develop its business plan. Cambridge Social Ventures also provided support to the firm along with incubator space.
The business now sells its products to chocolate-loving individuals and corporate customers.
Katy Ford, chief executive of Foundation East, said: “Foundation East are delighted that Harry Specters have been recognised with an award to recognise their positive social impact and their business success.
“We’ve supported Harry Specters during their journey from a start-up, conservatory-based operation to producing world-class quality chocolates while employing, supporting and training autistic people.
“They create important opportunities and give vitally important training and support to help people stay with Harry Specters or go on to other employment. Impact is at the heart of what Foundation East stands for and we’re thrilled that Harry Specters has been recognised in these awards.”