Ms Dorothy Francis MBE

Doctor of Laws, Friday 20 July at 3pm


Dorothy Francis (MBE, MCIPD, Companion CMI, BA Hons, and Queens Award Lifetime Achievement) has worked within the field of co-operatives and social enterprise for 35 years and is passionate about how social businesses change lives and communities for the better. She is the CEO of the Co-operative and Social Enterprise Agency (CASE) and is a leader, trainer, mentor and adviser.

Dorothy has over 30 years’ experience in advising cooperatives and social enterprises to establish and grow and she specialises in social enterprise legal structures, working practices and management. She is committed to promoting business to women, especially women of colour and women from newly arrived communities and has twice received Business Woman of the Year awards. Within her own time she mentors adults who are seeking change in their lives and is also an Entrepreneur in Residence at the University of Leicester offering support and advice to students and staff.

Dorothy qualified as a Member of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in 1994 and has a special interest in the promotion of equality and diversity.

Dorothy became a Companion of the Chartered Management Institute in 2016. Dorothy was recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in April 2016 when she received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion (Lifetime Achievement Award). The Lifetime Achievement Award is an OBE-equivalent honour given to one person annually; Dorothy is the 12th person in the UK to hold this accolade and the first in Leicestershire. Dorothy received an MBE in the 2017 New Year’s Honours list in recognition of services to enterprise and the communities of Leicester and Leicestershire.

Dorothy holds two teaching qualifications and delivers a range of business related courses and workshops. She is an alumni of the University of Leicester having gained a Certificate in Education from the University in 2006.

Dorothy is the subject of a biography written by Kiyotaka Sato, Professor of European History at Meiji University in Tokyo, Japan and currently a visiting professor at the University of Leicester.

Press comment

I am delighted to receive an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the University of Leicester. The award is for services to the co-operative movement and promotion of diversity. These are areas to which I have devoted much of my working life and I am pleased that my efforts in these fields have been recognised. I am a passionate supporter of co-operatives and social businesses and believe in their capacity to change the lives of individuals and communities across the world. Co-operatives have always promoted equality and diversity and so for me the two areas go hand in hand.

“My organisation, CASE (Co-operative and Social Enterprise Agency), has worked with the University of Leicester, particularly Rajinder Bhuhi, for many years to deliver programmes that introduce students to the world of social entrepreneurship. We have achieved excellent results through the WISE and SEW programmes with a number of students going on to establish social enterprises as a result of their involvement in the programmes. The excellent working relationship between CASE and the University of Leicester has allowed us to achieve great outputs and to develop outcomes that have changed the lives of students who have accessed the programmes.

“I am also pleased to act as an Entrepreneur in Residence to the University of Leicester, meeting locally with undergraduate and post graduate students and speaking with distance learning students from across the globe to discuss their business proposals. This voluntary commitment allows me to share in the dreams, plans and expectations of University of Leicester students and I enjoy the two way process whereby I learn from the students whilst sharing my experience and knowledge of business with them.

“I moved to Leicester in 1986 with the original intention of staying for two years. However the city drew me in and I quickly realised that I enjoyed living in Leicester and that I wished to stay. I have now lived in Leicester for most of my life and this vibrant, welcoming and friendly city is my home and I am immensely proud to be a citizen of one of the best cities in the UK.

“I studied for a Certificate in Education via the University of Leicester, qualifying as a teacher in 2006, and my daughter achieved an MA in International Communication and Culture from the university in 2016. We live within a mile of the main campus and so the university is local to us but no less valued because of its close proximity. We are privileged to have such a quality institution on our doorstep and I am pleased to receive the award of Doctor of Laws from such a highly acclaimed university.”

Video of Dorothy Francis's oration and response

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