Minister backs Larne social enterprise AEL

L-R AEL CEO David Hunter, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell, AEL Administration and Finance Manager Laura Steele and East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons. INLT-45-715-VL

L-R AEL CEO David Hunter, Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell, AEL Administration and Finance Manager Laura Steele and East Antrim MLA Gordon Lyons. INLT-45-715-VL

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Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell has praised Larne social enterprise Acceptable Enterprises Limited (AEL) as a “model for the future.”

Speaking during a visit to the firm’s Pound Street headquarters on November 6, Mr Bell congratulated the firm for embodying Invest NI’s aims of innovation and growing exports while reinvesting profits into the social area.

“To go from profits of £60,000 in 1999 to £600,000 in 2015 with AEL’s initiatives like Candyrush, Lunch Box, Clearer water and the autoclave hose pipe repair programme at Bombardier is a model for the future,” he told the Times.

“Their success has been the result of a lot of hard work and determination. It has been encouraging to hear of the company’s future growth plans.”

CEO of AEL David Hunter added: “A lot of social enterprises are only responsible for 10-15 per cent of their own income but we are responsible for over 90 per cent of our income.

“We have six commercial businesses which run alongside our two programmes. This involves sub contract work, packaging, online retailing, our allotment project, cafe and sample making.

“Our work force is a mixture of able-bodied people and people with disabilities working together, we don’t separate them.”

Mr Hunter says AEL is hoping to resurrect its Katie’s Cabins project to build log cabins at Carnfunnock by 2017.

The original application was rejected by Larne Borough Council.