£14k Scottish Government funding boost for social entrepreneurs

Social enterprises urged to access global markets to increase economic value 

Scotland’s social enterprises can add to their £1.68 billion economic value by accessing global markets, according to Communities and Equalities Secretary Angela Constance.
Her comments follow the publication of Scotland’s first ever dedicated, long-term, Social Enterprise Strategy, which includes a number of steps aimed at growing a sector and driving inclusive growth over the next decade.
Ms Constance launched the plan at the Grassmarket Community Project in Edinburgh and, as an early action, announced £140,000 to expand the Social Entrepreneurs Fund to help individuals who want to set up and run a social enterprise.
The sector in Scotland is seen as a world leader thanks to sustained investment and support for social enterprises, which trade for the common good and work to strengthen communities, improve people’s life chances or protect the environment.
The strategy has been developed with the social enterprise sector with the help of local government, and will help local communities who want to start their own enterprise as well as continue to support and grow those already operating.
It will also increase the number of disabled social entrepreneurs and look at ways to enable social enterprises to employ more disabled people, including the use of targeted wage incentives.
Ms Constance said: “Social enterprises have fantastic potential in terms of economic benefit, currently contributing £1.68 billion to our economy and providing employment opportunities. We want to release that potential and allow them to thrive.
“They are inclusive by their very nature and we know that profits are reinvested back into the project or the local community. That then contributes to the wider economy which is of course is a key priority for this government.
“We’ve worked with the social enterprise sector to develop a strategy based on first-hand experience so we know what’s needed to help the sector grow and continue to succeed. By doing so, we can open them up to wider national and global markets and help boost our economy and drive inclusive growth.
“This will direct our action over the next decade and we will work collectively to push forward social enterprises and allow social entrepreneurs to turn their ideas into reality and contribute to a fairer, more equal and inclusive Scotland.”
In a joint statement, Pauline Graham, CEO of Social Firms Scotland, Aidan Pia, Executive Director of Senscot and Fraser Kelly, chief executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, said: “Scotland is a recognised world leader in social enterprise support and development. The journey towards the launch of this ambitious strategy has been both rewarding and challenging.
“Our social enterprise community, stretching across every area of urban and rural Scotland, is diverse. This new strategy sets out a clear, powerful and inclusive vision for the growth of social enterprise over the next decade and beyond.”
Social Investment Scotland has also welcomed the publication of the new 10-year social enterprise strategy.
CEO Alastair Davis said: “The Scottish Government’s social enterprise strategy is a huge step in the right direction. For many years we’ve talked about the potential of social enterprise in a country which rightly prides itself on a long history of doing business in a fair and sustainable way. We now have the political ambition and drive to fulfil this potential.
“To achieve the ten year vision set out in this strategy will take a huge amount of hard work from everyone involved in the social enterprise sector. Key to its success will be our ability as a sector to meet the growing consumer demand for socially responsible products and services, ranging from ethically-sourced clothes to socially conscious restaurants.
“For our part, SIS will continue to focus on educating and prepare social enterprise to take on finance, but also to continue to grow the availability of that finance. Recent initiatives such as the introduction of Social Investment Tax Relief have helped to open up social investment to a wider pool of investors, and we’ll need to continue innovating with new forms of funding if the sector is to continue expanding.
“We looking forward to working with the Scottish Government, our partners and customers, as we collectively aim to create a fairer society and a more inclusive economy.”
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