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£3m up for grabs for new social enterprise startups

This news post is about 7 years old

The Scottish Government has announced new funding as part of its social enterprise strategy, which also includes the creation of a Buy Social certificate

The amount of money available to help social entrepreneurs set up new business north of the border has been doubled by the Scottish Government.

For the next three years the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which offers grants and business support to help people to make their social start-up aspirations a reality, will hand out £1m each year.

Increased backing for the fund was just one of 92 commitments announced today by the government as part of its 2017-2020 Social Enterprise Action Plan.

The plan follows publication of Scotland’s first-ever Social Enterprise Strategy, aimed at sustainably growing the sector over the next decade.

Also included was a £1.2m award for Just Enterprise to offer a business support programme providing workshops in finance, sales, market research and e-commerce.

A Buy Social certification scheme will also be introduced so consumers know when they are buying from a social enterprise and social enterprise classes will be taught in schools to inspire the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Equalities secretary Angela Constance announced the action plan on a visit to the Milk Café in Govanhill – launched in 2015 with £3,900 seed capital from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund. The café provides employment, training and support for ethnic minority women in Glasgow.

Constance said: “We are already recognised as a social enterprise world-leader, backed by Scottish Government support in 2016/17 of around £6.5 million, however I am determined we do more. That is why we have set out a three-year action plan, including doubling the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, helping encourage the next phase of social enterprise innovators.

“Businesses like the Milk Café – offering a safe space for ethnic minority women to gain work experience, improve their English skills and integrate locally – show the huge difference a social enterprise can make in their local community.”

The Social Entrepreneur Fund is administered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for social start-ups. Firstport chief executive Karen McGregor added: “Social entrepreneurship has a proven ability to tackle problems and transform lives and communities. Firstport supports an average of three people a day to take their first steps into social enterprise and has invested in over 800 social entrepeneurs.

“We are delighted that the Scottish Government is doubling its investment in the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which combined with Firstport’s free business advice and resources, will enable us to boost the number of social enterprises throughout Scotland even further.”

Already, Scotland has more than 5,000 social enterprises – including those that reinvest profits to address important issues like homelessness, unemployment or climate change – with 200 new enterprises starting up every year.

In a joint statement from Social Firms Scotland, Senscot and Social Enterprise Scotland read: “Scotland is driving forward an ambitious strategy for social enterprise growth and development. We believe that the new 10 year strategy should be backed up by strong, practical action on the ground. We therefore warmly welcome the launch of the first action plan to take this process forward.

“Our social enterprise community, stretching across every part of urban and rural Scotland, is ambitious and ready to increase its contribution to Scottish society. We now have a clear plan for the growth and development of social enterprise in Scotland over the next decade.”