A business that helps others to care for people and the planet
This growing not-for-profit organisation has helped almost 1,700 businesses – creating more than 4,600 jobs that aim to make positive changes for people and the planet. But Allia also nurtures the people who work for it. Richard Porritt found out how.
Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, Allia has, to date, helped thousands of small businesses and impact ventures to start up, develop and grow, leading to the creation of new jobs.
It has also issued £333 million in bonds, providing a social finance solution to help numerous charitable organisations with development projects. And the businesses they are helping are saving and improving lives. These range from an agri-tech company helping small-scale farmers in Malawi to a firm called Blue Tap which creates products to improve access to high quality drinking water in low resource settings and Bios which develops cutting edge treatments such as a prosthetic device which allows amputees to control a connected body part.
As a result, Allia, Hebrew for 'exalted' or 'sublime' and with offices in Cambridge, Peterborough and London, has itself changed and grown over the last two years, including the appointment of a new CEO.
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But as winners of Best Employers in the Not-for-Profit category, it has at the same time looked to care for its 50-strong team of employees.
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It has taken the unusual step of launching quarterly town hall meetings to share plans and achievements with all employees, helping them to feel engaged in the wider business and not restricted to their location or role. Communication is vital and Allia has also introduced a quarterly newsletter.
Rachel Coquard, head of HR, said: "What our employees think is fundamental to the whole performance of our organisation. All the great work we do only happens because of our team, they really are our greatest asset. We've started to look at bringing people from different sites together through more team events and different ways of communicating across a wider network.
"We've also introduced six-monthly team briefings to ensure everyone understands the business and to share information on what we are trying to achieve. We will continue to monitor our engagement levels by using the Best Employers Eastern Region survey and by introducing our own smaller staff surveys in between."
Allia provides a flexible work-space in its Future Business centres but also offers advice and support to help people grow and develop their business as well as development funding to help support a charity's goals with a finance team able to advise on the best funding routes and financial options.