City social enterprise plans Barbados office

A unique Birmingham social enterprise is planning to open a Caribbean office after joining a recent UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) Mission to Barbados to promote entrepreneurship on the island.

Harris & Harris Accountancy Services was the first UK accountants to become a Community Interest Company and remains the only accountancy firm in the city to work as a social enterprise, using its profits to support training and employment opportunities across Birmingham.

And Heidi Harris and husband Ceciel, who jointly founded the business, continued to trailblaze in the sector by taking part in the recent UKTI Mission to Barbados, examining ways of developing social enterprise and entrepreneurship on the island in order to tackle poverty and disadvantage.

Ceciel Harris is from Barbados and the trade mission was the perfect chance for the duo to take on a challenge that was close to their heart.

Heidi Harris said: “We had already been to Barbados several times and seen that there were many parallels with the UK, as organisations are facing the same cuts in government funding and increasing unemployment.

“During the trip we were able to talk to organisations and individuals in Barbados about how to improve their financial sustainability through trading and developing social enterprise activities.

“We also spoke more generally about developing an enterprise culture across the island so young people can set up their own businesses rather than relying on the government for job opportunities.”

Whilst in Barbados, Heidi and Ceciel met Government Ministers and representatives from key enterprise organisations, including Barbados Youth Business Trust and Barbados Vocational Training Board.

The visit also included an evening reception at the British High Commissioner’s residence with local businesses and government officials, as well as the Birmingham duo attending BMEX, the local trade exhibition.

Heidi continued: “We are really excited about the opportunities out there. I think there’s lots of work to be done and we are aiming to establish a base in Barbados in the near future.”

Harris & Harris specialises in advising clients in the third sector and provides accountancy services specifically aimed at small and medium-sized CICs, who do not require an audit.

For more information on the business visit www.harrisaccountancy.co.uk.

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