Encounter Eden is a social enterprise that was established in early 2017 to bring some much-needed new life to the economy of the Upper Eden valley.
A social enterprise has the same disciplines as a normal trading venture but the objectives are focused on building social capital. The company is limited by guarantee: the principals can be paid and so can the providers of capital but, if significant profits are made, at least two-thirds must be devoted to the social aims of the company. In this case the founders propose to channel profits into the local economy through a charity. The nature of the aims is reflected in tax concessions to financial supporters: those who can take advantage can obtain up to 30% tax relief against their investment.
Kirkby Stephen is Encounter Eden’s home base, reflecting the knowledge of and anxieties for the local economy of Alex Birtles, longtime resident, solicitor and member of the Town Council. Alex chairs the company (whose founding he promoted) seeing the economic and social challenges facing the town – including the lack of employment for new generations – as something that needs to be addressed in a durable and structured way.
After much local consultation, taking the local community and strategy plans into account, Encounter Eden is starting with three goals and the beginnings of a defined position locally. The directors hope to attract help and support for which this short description has been prepared.