Enterprising Audrey named Women’s Champion of the Year

Audrey Murray receives her Social Enterprise Woman of the Year award from Colin Jess, Ulster Bank's Head of Not for Profit SME Banking, at the Northern Ireland Social Enterprise Awards. INNT 46-518CON
Audrey Murray receives her Social Enterprise Woman of the Year award from Colin Jess, Ulster Bank's Head of Not for Profit SME Banking, at the Northern Ireland Social Enterprise Awards. INNT 46-518CON

She has helped set up more than 400 businesses, creating more than a thousand new jobs and now Audrey Murray has been named Women’s Champion at the 2015 NI Social Enterprise Awards.

The Ballyclare businesswoman is one of the driving forces behind LEDCOM, which runs the Northern Zone Social Enterprise Hub.

She also managed the Invest NI Social Entrepreneurship Programme over the past eight years, which saw the creation of 401 new social enterprises and the creation of some 1,096 new jobs with a combined projected turnover of £35 million and export sales of around £10 million.

“I am passionate about these businesses and believe that the social economy can help rebalance our community and change people’s lives. It’s essential that these enterprises are supported and developed as they have the potential to really make a difference to the lives of so many people,” Audrey said.

The Woman of the Year award recognises women working in the senior leadership team of a social enterprise who not only represent excellence in their field of work but also inspire and empower other women to achieve.

“Audrey has worked to develop social entrepreneurship for the past 23 years with a determination to persuade them to adapt a stronger business and financial income focus in order to be sustainable. She is recognised as one of the foremost social economy experts and practitioners. This was acknowledged when she was awarded the MBE for services to the social economy in 2013. She is a fearless advocate of the social economy and has tirelessly lobbied for support for these enterprises,” said Ken Nelson, Chief Executive of LEDCOM, who nominated Audrey for the award.

Through her Business Development Manager role within LEDCOM she has helped create four subsidiary social enterprise companies: Chain HR, Business Led, Ethical Development Trust and Heritage Experience.

A panel of independent judges, including representatives from Ulster Bank, DSD, Charity Bank, DETI and last year’s overall winning Social Enterprise, The Now Group, came together to independently evaluate the award applications.

The judges said Audrey is one of the best known faces of the social enterprise sector, a great champion and advocate of the sector.

Audrey will now go on to compete in the UK final of the Social Enterprise Awards on November 26 at the Southbank Centre in London.