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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

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Let’s hear your social enterprise story

This opinion piece is over 7 years old

Duncan Thorp calls for Scotland's thriving social businesses to enter the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2016

The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2016 is now live and open for entries. From Social Enterprise of the Year, to Social Investment Deal, One to Watch, Inspiring Youth Enterprise, Social Enterprise Champion and Market Builder, there’s an opportunity for every social enterprise and for supporters too.

The annual awards programme and evening celebration is now well established in the social enterprise and third sector calendars – and Social Enterprise Scotland is urging organisations to step up now and recognise their many achievements.

The awards are open to anyone that meets the basic criteria, that family of diverse organisations that make up social enterprise, including enterprising charities, SCIOs, Community Interest Companies (CICs), Co-operatives, Housing Associations, Social Firms and others.

Duncan Thorp
Duncan Thorp

The question we often get asked is “why should I apply?” With a plethora of annual awards ceremonies it’s a fair question and one worth answering.

If you identify as a Scottish social enterprise then certainly it’s the logical first choice. But also if you’re transitioning to a social enterprise model or you’ve realised that you are one, then the awards are for you too. It’s about recognising your journey to sustainability, as well as being better connected to other enterprising organisations.

First and foremost we strongly believe that social entrepreneurs should have their many achievements publicly recognised. They should have a bit of time to take a step back, reflect on the progress they’re making and also benchmark against a set of specific criteria. The awards allow organisations to appreciate the positive impact of their hard work and be recognised by their peers for this commitment.

Crucially it’s a voice for those you’re helping, whether it’s people with disabilities, young people, empowering homeless people, helping ex-offenders and more. The awards are about acknowledging innovation and positive social impact and raising the profile of social enterprise across the board – ultimately about giving recognition and a voice to these diverse groups of people.

Marketing and promotion is also essential for all social enterprises and it’s definitely something we don’t pay enough attention to. Being shortlisted for, or winning an award, allows you to gain a higher public and media profile. It's excellent free publicity and makes you stand out from the crowd.

Award winners receive a unique artwork trophy for display, designed by a social enterprise, plus there’s an exclusive "Finalist" or "Winner" logo to use on websites, leaflets, vehicles and offices – helping bring in more customers and build key relationships and reputation.

The awards give applicants a profile beyond Scotland, as part of an awards programme recognised and promoted across the UK and beyond, with the opportunity to compete across the UK too.

Finally, there’s the evening event celebration – whether you win an award, you’re shortlisted or just applied - you deserve to be celebrated. All applicants are welcome to attend and network at the awards ceremony in The Scottish Parliament with friends, colleagues and MSPs.

So get inspired, get motivated, recognise your achievements and apply today. All applications are made online at: – deadline Monday 11 July. We look forward to hearing your social enterprise story.

Duncan Thorp is policy and communications officer at Social Enterprise Scotland