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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Upscale your social enterprise through LaunchMe

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A support programme that has generated thousands for some of Scotland's most successful social enterprises is looking for new businesses to back

Fledgling social enterprises looking to upscale their work could be eligible for thousands of pounds of support from First Port's LaunchMe programme.

LaunchMe supports the most ambitious, early stage social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns.

In addition to initial seed funding of up to £25,000, participants can also apply for funding of up to £100,000 to match any investment they secure during the three-year programme.

Karen MacGregor

Over the last two years, we have shown that social enterprises have the potential to achieve scale and bring about more social and economic benefits to communities across Scotland - Karen McGregor

Karen MacGregor

Launched in 2014 by social enterprise agency Firstport and funded by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, LaunchMe has already helped 14 social enterprises. These include some now leaders in the sector, including community baker Breadshare, Inverness Kart Raceway and sandwich shop and caterer Social Bite.

The programme has attracted the attention of the Scottish angel investor community and has successfully brokered a number of investment deals worth over £500,000.

Karen McGregor, chief executive of Firstport, said: “We are excited to launch our search to find the next group of the most ambitious, early stage social enterprises in Scotland. Over the last two years, we have shown that social enterprises have the potential to achieve scale and bring about more social and economic benefits to communities across Scotland. In addition, the programme’s unique way of using grant funding to leverage investment has successfully attracted a number of social investors, pioneering new ways of financing a social return.

"We are confident that our latest search will uncover another amazing group of social entrepreneurs with the vision and ambition to change Scotland for the better”.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland chair, Maureen McGinn, said: “We are delighted to continue our partnership with Firstport to support more of Scotland’s most aspirational, early stage social enterprises. We believe that through an intensive programme of combined non-financial and financial support, this initiative will accelerate the potential of ambitious early stage social enterprises and stimulate a pipeline of investible ideas in Scotland.

"It’s an exciting initiative which has already brought some real benefits to the social enterprise sector and we look forward to more organisations applying to be part of this fantastic opportunity.”

LaunchMe participant Sylvia Douglas (pictured above), founder of MsMissMrs, said: “We have big ambitions for MsMissMrs and I am excited I managed to secure £100,000 through a mix of loans and grants. The investment is going to absolutely revolutionise our business, our products and getting them out there. We will be using the investment to hire three staff members, which will allow us develop our products to grow the business.”

Interested applicants should visit the Firstport website for further information. Applications close on Monday 28 November.