Hackney businesses celebrated

The borough’s leading entrepreneurs were celebrated at a glittering event held for the winners and finalists of the Mayor of Hackney’s Business Awards 2008.

Now in their third year, the annual awards are dedicated to recognising and celebrating the excellence and diversity of businesses in the borough.

A team of highly prestigious judges from the world of business and media joined the Mayor of Hackney, Jules Pipe, in presenting awards to the local entrepreneurs who had proved to be in a league of their own.

The glamorous awards evening was held at the Geffrye Museum and hosted by Tim Campbell, winner of the first series of Sir Alan Sugar’s hit BBC show The Apprentice, who has set up his own business as well as the Bright Ideas Trust, a social enterprise aimed at encouraging the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Tim told the audience of local businesses: “We are more than just business owners. We have taken risks and used our focus and ambition to get to where we are today. We are employing individuals and giving people aspirations. We are ambassadors for the next generation of entrepreneurs.”

Joining the Mayor on the judging panel were: Sinclair Beecham MBE, co-founder of Pret a Manger and owner of the Hoxton Hotel; Ian King, Business Editor of The Sun newspaper and Hackney resident; Yvonne Thompson CBE, founder of Choice FM; and Enzo Testa, Executive Managing Director of newspaper group Archant London.

The judges agreed that the level of entries had been outstanding and that it had been tough picking the winners.

Best in the Business 2008 went to Somethin Else, a cross-platform production company which works with high budget radio and TV programmes and offers extensive work experience programmes to students.

Chief Executive Sonita Alleyne OBE said: “I was so surprised to win but very honoured. We’re very proud to have been in this area since we set up the business in 1992. We’ve seen the area grow and we’ve seen the power of businesses growing. It leads to a real pride in working in this area. There’s a real vibrancy here which is really exciting.”

Best Ethnic Minority Business 2008 was scooped by Empowering Learning Ltd, teacher training and recruitment consultants who offer comprehensive training to teachers who are qualified overseas, so that they can teach in the UK.

Director Lynne Hannigan said: “We were just so surprised and excited to have won. We’re a team of people in an office who love coming to work and make everybody who comes in to the office feel at home. Those people are the people who we move from jobs that aren’t appreciating their skills and knowledge and get them back into teaching. It’s a really rewarding job which we love.”

Independent publishing house Maia Press won Best Women s Business 2008. Director Maggie Hamand said: “We’re thrilled to have received this award. We launched five years ago. It’s very tough launching a business particularly in publishing, which is such a competitive industry. It’s wonderful to get recognition of all our hard work and effort.”

What the judges said:

Sinclair Beecham said: “I love business and therefore I love other people’s enthusiasm for business. Businesses can make a lot of exciting things happen and they are doing so in Hackney. I was privileged to be able to look at a range of businesses that are all achieving something special.”

Ian King said: “I was delighted to be asked to be a judge and absolutely thrilled to be involved. I’ve lived in Hackney a long time and things like this really encapsulate the way the borough is changing and the work that’s being done to make Hackney a better place to work and live.”

Yvonne Thompson: “I’m passionate about encouraging small businesses, and in particular women and ethnic minority businesses. I felt the businesses in both the women’s and ethnic minority categories were really strong and it was really hard to choose, but there can only be one winner. I hope everyone who entered but didn’t win will enter again next year.”

Enzo Testa said: “This is a fantastic time for Hackney. Areas such as Shoreditch and Hoxton have already transformed, and the Olympics will bring a second phase of regeneration so that the whole of the borough can take advantage of what’s going on. The new infrastructure and rail links the Games will bring will be particularly important.”

Full list of winners:

1.Best Young Entrepreneur 2008: Phillip Mossop – WasteCollection
2.Best New Business Idea 2008 (14-19 year olds): Skinners’ Company’s School for Girls – Henoo
3.Best New Start Up 2008: Co-Operations Ltd
4.Best Environmental Practice 2008: WasteCollection
5.Best Ethnic Minority Business 2008: Empowering Learning Ltd
6.Best Product Design 2008: Buttonbag Ltd
7.Best Women’s Business 2008: Maia Press
8.Best Social Enterprise 2008: Hoxton Apprentice
9.Best in the Business 2008: Somethin’ Else