Scotland’s as a world-leading social enterprise nation

A photograph of staff standing outside the Social Bite, social enterprise in Edinburgh

Key points:

  • We have established a 10 year National Social Enterprise Strategy and continue to support social enterprises through national programmes like Just Enterprise and the Social Entrepreneurs Fund
  • Scotland is increasingly recognised as a world leader in developing social enterprise
  • Develop and launch a new Credit Unions strategy supported by a £10 million credit union investment fund (CUIF)

Social Enterprise

In partnership with the social enterprise sector, in 2016 we published a ten-year social enterprise strategy and since then have invested more than £26 million in the social enterprise eco-system. We will be publishing our second action plan underpinning the strategy in Spring 2020. The social enterprise sector makes a significant contribution to our economy. According to the 2019 census, the sector contributed £2.3 billion to the Scottish economy (Gross Value Added). The Scottish Government is committed to supporting the continued growth of this innovative sector and, in 2019, relaunched its free business support service ‘Just Enterprise’.

Since the launch of the strategy, we have doubled the seed funding for social enterprise start-ups to £1 million through the Social Entrepreneurs Fund. In 2019, the Scottish Government increased funding to a further £1.5 million, introducing a new category of award focusing on social enterprises tackling the climate emergency and sustainability.

We support the sustainability of the sector by providing £330,000 funding each year for the Social Enterprise Academy to deliver their Social Enterprise in Education programme. This supports the youth of today in becoming our Social Entrepreneurs of the future.

Since 2017, we have also provided over £409,045 funding to expand the innovative Community Shares Scotland programme. Since then, the programme has supported 14 societies to issue £2.6 million in community shares capital from over 5,000 members for projects with a total value of £14.5 million.

Scotland’s approach to social enterprise is increasingly recognised worldwide and is the only nation to host the Social Enterprise World Forum twice. In October 2019, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government attended the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to demonstrate our commitment to the sector and its potential for economic impact.

Credit Unions

Credit unions play a vital part in Scotland’s future. Credit unions enable people, at every income level, to access financial services at more affordable levels than many of the high street banks. The Scottish Government is committed to further supporting this important sector. That is why our 2019/20 Programme for Government includes a commitment to develop a credit union strategy which is to be supported by a new £10 million credit union investment fund (CUIF) from Spring 2020. A credit union strategy group has been established and are developing a long term plan which will further strengthen the sector, making it more sustainable, improving its systems and increasing the provision of affordable credit.

Positive Changes, Community Interest Company

Positive Changes supports women who have touched the Scottish criminal justice system by helping them towards employment through the making and selling of chocolates.

It was set up by Joyce Murray, who was working as a volunteer at HMP Cornton Vale Family Hub centre, when she saw first-hand the significant barriers women with convictions face in gaining employment. Having a job plays a key part in reducing the likelihood of reoffending, and she believed she could make a positive change in her community by creating employment opportunities for these women.

She received £25,000 Build It Award from Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. Joyce said the award came at just the right time as the organisation had been incorporated for just over a year and its market presence was growing, with more and more women accessing its services.

Positive Changes is now flourishing and has big plans for the future. Joyce said: “I hope we can continue to grow, supporting more and more women and selling more and more chocolates. The criminal justice system for women in Scotland is changing. I would love for Positive Changes to be an integral part of the new offering for women in each of the new Community Custody Units and the National Facility in Scotland.”

Key resources:

Social Enterprise Scotland

Firstport: Funding for your Social Enterprise

Community Shares Scotland