Duncan Thorp argues that Scotland needs a thriving social enterprise sector as part of a strong economy
A successful economy needs successful social enterprises. Increasingly that’s the message we’re promoting and it’s a message that government and others now understand is core to building a fairer society.
Social enterprises are rooted in their communities, often with local employees, local trading environments and local knowledge.
It’s at the local level where we need to solidly focus our efforts, both in improving our economy to benefit everyone and in building democracy
The amount of data is increasing about the economic impact of social enterprises (though we’re some way from gathering it all) and local mapping exercises are helping us build a picture of what social enterprise looks like on the ground.
Though many social enterprises remain hidden (either not connecting with networks or not identifying as such), we can still see a picture emerging of these more resilient models, very gradually replacing the old three sectors to deliver goods and services.
But this is also about democracy. Strong, local economies are best achieved when power is closest to people. This is where communities themselves are empowered to make their own decisions. The current policy focus on community empowerment is about both politics and economics and building community resilience on different levels.
Improving the streets and neighbourhoods where we live will have the biggest positive impact. It’s at the local level where we need to solidly focus our efforts, both in improving our economy to benefit everyone and in building democracy. This also means raising awareness to help community groups, local charities and SMEs embrace the social enterprise alternative.
Duncan Thorp is policy and communications officer at Social Enterprise Scotland