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Creating wealth by creating opportunities

Five years ago, Kate Welch gingerly entered the world of social entrepreneurship with unbridled enthusiasm, ?10 up front, and government contracts to deliver training for the jobless. Today, she oversees an enterprise with a ?3.5m annual turnover, over 80 staff, and a range of programmes throughout the north-east of England designed to guide people into work and instil a sense of confidence with training and education. Could this be the start of something big?Welch is in demand throughout England, getting requests to expand the Acumen Community Enterprise Development Trust into other challenging areas beset by a post-industrial economy, where many big employers have disappeared. “Not many things have gone national from the north-east. Do you not think it’s time?” she asks smiling in her office. It is on an industrial estate in Peterlee new town, County Durham, overlooking an old coalfield area plagued by worklessness, poor health, and attendant social problems. “A lot of people are saying: ‘You seem to have something we haven’t got in our area.’ But I don’t want to rush. We have to remain community focused.”

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