The social enterprise sector in Scotland is vibrant, growing and making a difference to communities and the environment the length and breadth of the country. National support bodies are working hard to provide relevant and effective support covering all aspects of setting up, developing and running a social enterprise, from business planning, finance, funding and governance to influencing policy at a national level.
If you are thinking about setting up a social enterprise, need support for an existing social enterprise or want to find out more about social enterprise, please see the following guide for information and links to national support bodies:
Social Enterprise Scotland
Social Enterprise Scotland is the collective and campaigning voice of social enterprise, and provides access to Scotland’s social enterprise community. They are an independent membership led organisation that works to raise the profile of social enterprise, and represent members’ interests at a national policy level. Having developed an on-line one-stop resource they bring together all the relevant information and different aspects of the social enterprise community in one place.
For further information, visit the Social Enterprise Scotland website.
Senscot’s vision is of a socially just Scotland where social entrepreneurs and their initiatives are a valued part of everyday life. To achieve this, Senscot builds and services a network to help social entrepreneurs become more effective. They do this by:
- Connecting and informing social entrepreneurs
- Facilitating networks
- Developing the sector
Find out more about Senscot by visiting their website.
Just Enterprise is a consortium of some of Scotland’s key social enterprise support bodies, providing a free, one-stop business support, development and learning service for social enterprise. The Just Enterprise consortium consists of the following specialist sector support agencies:
- the Social Enterprise Academy
- Forth Sector Development
- Community Enterprise Ltd
- CEMVO Scotland
- Lanarkshire Enterprise Services Ltd (LESL)
- Ready for Business
For further information on the support offered to Scotland’s social enterprises, please visit the Just Enterprise website.
Senscot Legal was established in 2010 to provide support in legal matters to the social enterprise sector and wider third sector. A social enterprise themselves, Senscot Legal provide affordable, high quality legal advice and support to social enterprises, charities, community and voluntary organisations, community housing associations and everyone in between, from small community groups to organisations that operate at a national level.
As far as possible, a fixed fee is used. An initial consultation is offered free of charge, and a quote is then provided for any further services as appropriate.
For further information about their services, please visit the Senscot Legal website.
Funding and Social Investment
Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise, and is responsible for managing the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund in conjunction with Scotland Unlimited. Firstport enables pre start-up and start-up social entrepreneurs to test, refine and grow their ideas in to viable social enterprise businesses.
Find out more about Firstport, Scotland Unltd and the social entrepreneurs fund on the Firstport website.
Social Investment Scotland
Social Investment Scotland (SIS) is a charity and social enterprise that provides loans to the third sector in Scotland. Set up by the Scottish Government in 2001, SIS has supported many social enterprises to scale-up, grow and deliver increased social impact.
To find out more, visit the Social Investment Scotland website.
Responsible Finance is the new name for the Community Development Finance Association (CDFA).
Responsible Finance represents Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), who provide loans to people and businesses who struggle to get finance from high street banks. They provide support as well as finance, giving extra help and advice when it’s needed.
Find out more about Responsible Finance and other CDFIs on the Responsible Finance website.
Other sources of funding and investment include:
Training and Education
Social Enterprise Academy
The Social Enterprise Academy (SEA) was established in 2004 and has supported over 7500 people with learning and development opportunities all over Scotland. They work at local and national levels, bringing together learners to share and learn together, at all stages of personal and organisational growth.
For more about their innovative approach, training programmes and development opportunities, visit the Social Enterprise Academy website.
School for Social Entrepreneurs (Scotland)
The School for Social Entrepreneurs (Scotland) (SSE) provides on-going training and support across Scotland to individuals trying to create and sustain social businesses. SSE provides training in the form of specialised workshops and ongoing opportunities to enable individuals to use their entrepreneurial and creative skills to develop social businesses, social enterprises and charities that benefit the communities in which they live.
Find out more about the SSE and the training and support available on the School for Social Entrepreneurs (Scotland) website.
Other providers of training and education for social enterprise include:
- The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship (via The University of Strathclyde)
- The Business School (via Edinburgh Napier University)
- Scottish Institute for Enterprise
- Young Enterprise Scotland