Entrepreneurs wanted in campaign to help the homeless

Homelessness is always a hot topic at this time of year. But, have readers ever thought that there could actually be a solution to the problem? I d like people to disregard the mountains of pity press that encourages people to work at a soup kitchen,

Homelessness is always a hot topic at this time of year. But, have readers ever thought that there could actually be a solution to the problem?

I'd like people to disregard the mountains of 'pity press' that encourages people to work at a soup kitchen, for example, or give hand-outs to beggars at Christmas.

There's now a new kind of professional, lean organisation helping people off the streets that is neither charity or 'not-for-profit'; it's all about making money to make a difference.

A social enterprise is a business that uses its profit (preferably lots of it) to tackle social problems. Good examples are The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver's Fifteen and Café Direct. By being innovative and profitable, The Big Issue has helped thousands of homeless people to rebuild their lives over the past 16 years.


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This year, Big Issue Invest, part of The Big Issue group, is involved in a new project called Spark. It's an exciting government-supported project designed to grow more organisations to help even more people off the streets permanently.

I am asking for organisations which work with homeless people to apply for a share of a £500,000 prize fund to help them grow an existing or new social enterprise that benefits homeless and vulnerably housed people.

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If you've got a business case for a social enterprise that offers a 'hand up' for homeless people, rather than a hand-out, download an application form from www.sparkchallenge.org, before 18 February, 2008.

Nigel Kershaw, chief executive, Big Issue Invest on behalf of Spark.

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