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3 April, 2018 - 16:33 By Kate Sweeney

Ethical chocolate maker wins UK accolade

Ely-based chocolate maker Harry Specters has been named the UK's “social enterprise of the year” by an international foundation in recognition of its impact through employing, training and supporting autistic people.

The accolade in this year's Citi Microentrepreneurship Awards “recognises the success of an outstanding social entrepreneur with a clear social or environmental mission, taking an entrepreneurial approach to creating social change.”

During a chocolate making course co-founder Mona Shah realised that the precision and step-by-step process to create and package bespoke quality chocolate makes it ideal for some autistic people. 

Shah and her husband set up the firm having been concerned about career opportunities for their son Ash who is autistic.

Harry Specters has now grown to employ nine staff – four full-time and five part-time – six of whom are autistic. It has already provided training and work experience to over 180 autistic people and plans to double revenues in the next two years to create more employment for people with autism.
 
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. 

• Monah Shah was shortlisted for the 2017 Woman Entrepreneur of the Year prize in the Business Weekly Awards, supported by Cambridge Judge Business School.

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