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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Seven easy ways to boost social enterprise

This opinion piece is over 5 years old

Duncan Thorp gives his top tips for improving lives and building a better community

Social enterprises exist in every community in Scotland. From sports centres to gift shops, cafes, housing, arts spaces and more, there’s something good happening right on your doorstep.

Around 79% of Scottish social enterprises say that they sell direct to the public, so it’s likely that you already know something about those in your own neighbourhood. About 70% of social enterprises are led by and accountable to people in their local community.

While local councils, the Scottish Government and business support bodies work hard to boost the growth of our social enterprise community, there are things that we can all do to help drive forward these innovative businesses.

As consumers and as people who care about our community we can choose to support good causes through social enterprise. Whether that’s empowering homeless or disabled people, improving the natural environment or regenerating our streets - social enterprise is good for everyone.

Duncan Thorp
Duncan Thorp

Here’s a simple, easy list for anyone in Scotland who wants to improve lives and build a better community:

1 Find out more - see what social enterprise is all about at - be curious and learn something new.

2 Look up your local social enterprises- you’ll find a list from the local Social Enterprise Network in your area where there is one, or ask your local Third Sector Interface.

3 Shop local and ethical - make the choice to use locally owned shops, particularly social enterprises and ethical outlets - from groceries to cafes, gift shops, sports centres and more - explore what’s happening in your neighbourhood and spend locally.

4 Switch to social enterprise suppliers - you can easily switch your banking, energy and more to ethical alternatives - find a credit union at, switch to suppliers like energy company Our Power and the Phone Co-op - or book a social enterprise venue for a party or wedding.

5 Chat to a social entrepreneur - get in contact with a local social enterprise and see how you might learn more and get involved - maybe you could become a volunteer, employee or a board member.

6 Chat about social enterprise to friends, family, colleagues and contacts - talk about the social enterprises that exist in your local community - tell people how social enterprises benefit excluded groups and provide jobs and opportunities for anyone.

7 Get in touch with your local Council and MSPs - find out what your local authority, Councillors and MSPs are doing to support social enterprises. What funding or support is available? Can they do more?

Feel like you want to take the next step and actually set up a social enterprise? Got a clear business idea to tackle a social or environmental issue? Maybe you work in a charity and want to change the way you raise income and what options exist - check out for more info.

Together we can take social enterprise forward - and benefit people in every local community in Scotland!

Duncan Thorp is policy and communications manager at Social Enterprise Scotland.