Social enterprises are a vital partner in the economy, civil society and in creating a fairer, more inclusive Scotland. They play a key role in our public services and are an important part of our national identity and international reputation.
Social enterprises trade for the common good. They address social needs, strengthen communities, improve people's life chances and protect the environment.
In December 2016, we published Scotland's Social Enterprise Strategy. This set out a wide-ranging, ambitious and long-term framework to help realise the full potential of the social enterprise sector.
This action plan now sets out important first steps that we will take, working across government and with partners, to deliver on our vision for social enterprise over the next three years. Subsequent action plans will follow in 2020 and 2023.
The plan is being published in support of Scotland's Economic Strategy, and demonstrates in particular how social enterprises can be assisted to deliver on our ambitions for inclusive growth.
It is also being published against the backdrop of a major review of the system of support for Enterprise and Skills in Scotland, of which our support to social enterprises forms part. As such, our action plan will continue to develop over the next six months as we work across government to ensure the strongest possible environment in which businesses of all kinds can thrive and grow.
The pages that follow show how we will lay the foundation for a flourishing social enterprise sector. It sets out how we will stimulate social enterprise activity, develop stronger organisations and realise market opportunity - delivering on the three key priorities set out in the Scotland's Social Enterprise Strategy.
The action plan sets out a broad and balanced approach building a sustainable social enterprise sector. In many cases, the actions outlined build on our established track record of investment and support for the sector. In other cases, they propose pioneering new approaches and signal our ambition to grow the sector further and faster.
Taken together, the commitments set out in the plan will ensure that social enterprises play a central role in business and community life for many years to come.