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Building A Sustainable Social Enterprise Sector In Scotland:2017-20


Priority 2: Developing Stronger Organisations

"We will ensure that all social enterprises have the resources, knowledge and networks they need to achieve their potential"

2A. Social Finance

Social enterprises continue to test new service models and scale-up to meet new needs and contract opportunities. This requires increasingly creative forms of finance to enable social enterprises to make needed capital investments, develop revenue streams, build capacity and manage cash flow effectively. Our ambition is for social enterprises to achieve their optimal scale and impact through access to responsive forms of finance.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


2A.1. Providing seed capital to social entrepreneurs

We will enable many more social enterprises to get off the ground by doubling the size of the national Social Entrepreneurs Fund to £1m for each year over the period 2017 to 2020.

2A.2. Funding for development and growth

We will deliver a Social Economy Growth Fund, providing major grants that build capacity within the sector to create employment, improve skills and support disadvantaged areas and groups.

2A.3. Expanding the use of community shares issues

We will build awareness and support the expansion of Community Shares schemes. This will help to increase the amount of share capital and democratic control of businesses that serve community needs.

2A.4. Extending micro-lending in low income communities

We will work with fair-credit institutions supporting micro-lending for enterprises (e.g. Grameen Scotland Foundation) to examine how the micro-credit model can be used to best effect, building on pilot activity in some of the most deprived communities in the West of Scotland.

2A.5. Unlocking private investment

We will unlock capital from private investors by working with Social Investment Scotland and others to promote access to the Social Investment Tax Relief and similar mechanisms.

2A.6. Ensuring access to SME finance

We will work with and through the Scottish Investment Bank to ensure access to traditional forms of SME finance for social enterprises, including through the use of loan guarantee schemes.

2A.7. Getting the sector investment ready

We will extend the range of pre-investment support available to social enterprise leaders, ensuring that they have the necessary advice, skillset and confidence to make informed decisions about the use of loan funding.

2A.8. Testing new financing models

We will test the potential for new social financing models, including creative forms of blended finance (grant plus loan), pioneering outcomes-based investment approaches (e.g. Social Investment Impact Partnerships) and inventive mechanisms to support community reinvestment from with the wider third sector.

2A.9. Informing future developments in the social finance market

We will develop a better shared understanding of the demand for social investment through further research, including take-up, requirements, and potential. On this basis, we will continue to develop an approach to social investment that is specific to Scotland, recognising the unique needs and demands of the country's social enterprise sector.

2B. Business Support

The social enterprise sector is characterised by its diversity - differing traditions, business models, motivations and goals. This leads to a very wide range of needs and aspirations, some specific to social enterprises and some common to all forms of business. We believe that these varied aspirations are best served by a diverse ecosystem of business support, mainstream and specialised, nationally organised and locally delivered. Our ambition is to build the strength of the social enterprise sector by building on the strengths of Scotland's system of business support.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


2B.1. Continuing specialised business support for social enterprise

We will extend the national programme of specialised business support - Just Enterprise - by another year, investing a further £1.2m before reviewing its performance and impact more fully. During 2018, we will introduce redesigned arrangements for social enterprise start-up, growth and recovery that will complement mainstream provision.

2B.2. Building an empowered network of business advisors

We will equip a growing network of business advisors with the knowledge and relationships they need to deliver the best possible support to social enterprises. Central to this will be the development of a Business Support Exchange Network, an initiative bringing together advisors from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Business Gateway, Just Enterprise and others.

2B.3. Meeting needs through existing business support services

We will put in place arrangements to ensure that a growing number of social enterprises enjoy the benefits of engaging with existing mainstream business advice and support, from Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, and Business Gateway. This will be considered more widely by the Enterprise and Skills Review.

2B.4. Scaling early stage social enterprise activity

We will put support structures in place that early stage social enterprises need to realise their ambitions for growth and achieve impact on a greater scale. This will include extending support for LaunchMe as Scotland's first social enterprise accelerator programme.

2B.5. Boosting digital innovation and growth

We will work with Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and others to develop the digital capabilities of social enterprises and their associated capacity for business innovation and growth. This will include promoting access to the Digital Growth Fund, Digital Boost programme and related digital support initiatives.

2B.6. Supporting the first steps into international markets

We will work with Scottish Development International to raise export awareness and ensure access to a tailored suite of support products for social enterprises taking their first steps into international markets. In tandem, we will review our International Social Enterprise Programme and introduce a redesigned form of targeted financial assistance for international social enterprises headquartered in Scotland that have the ability to scale-up their impact.

2B.7. Help to win public sector business

We will put in place the expert training, support and information that social enterprises need to compete effectively for public contracts and grow their business. This will build upon the support provided by the national Supplier Development Programme and other sources.

2C. Collaboration

We believe that social enterprises can achieve much by working together - particularly in fields where collective scale, capacity and financial strength is an advantage. We must therefore look beyond operating solely as single organisations and consider new ways of organising and supporting wider systems of provision. We want to see an increasing number of social enterprises realising the benefits of collaboration, locally, nationally and internationally.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


2C.1. Extending Social Enterprise Networks

We will enable Senscot to extend place-based Social Enterprise Networks (SENs) to every part of Scotland that wants one and to develop the potential of Thematic SENs. These will provide an increasingly important collective voice for social enterprises.

2C.2. Testing new consortia and resource sharing models

We will bring forward new models of collaboration and consortia working. This will include early investigation of the Italian Social Co-operatives consortia approach and its application to Scotland, followed by other initiatives that will test the potential of social enterprises to pool collective assets, share services and drive down costs.

2C.3. Supporting co-ownership and consortium co-operatives

We will support the take-up of co-ownership and collaborative business models as a basis for stronger social enterprise activity. This will be achieved through a co-ordinated plan of action developed with Co-operative Development Scotland.

2C.4. Strengthening bidding consortia

We will back the introduction of a new Partnership and Procurement Hub to enable more social enterprises to tender together and collectively take on contracts of a greater scale.

2C.5. Utilising collaborative technologies

We will bring forward new approaches to support peer-to-peer connections between social enterprises using collaborative technologies. This will accompany our push to ensure that more social enterprises benefit from digital business support.

2C.6. Building trading relationships

We will back opportunities for social enterprises to come together to buy and sell goods and services, network and learn. This will include the Social Enterprise Marketplace Exchange nationally, as well as other regional and local events led by Social Enterprise Networks.

2C.7. Driving international collaboration

In partnership with CEIS, and working with Scottish Development International, we will lay the foundations for an International Social Enterprise Observatory based in Glasgow. This will provide the focus and capacity to harvest best practice as well as foster international connections, trading relationships and development opportunities.

2D. Leadership Development

We recognise that the single most important determinant of the success of any organisation is the quality of its leadership. Effective leadership - both individual and collective - will be essential if social enterprises are to navigate successfully the uncertain period ahead. Our ambition is to realise fully the personal and organisational potential within social enterprises through leadership development.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


2D.1. Extending leadership development opportunities

We will continue our strategic partnership with the Social Enterprise Academy to deliver accredited leadership and entrepreneurial learning programmes ever more widely across the social enterprise community and wider third sector.

2D.2. Developing business skills

We will continue the provision of business skills training for social entrepreneurs, leaders and staff of established social enterprises. Initially, we will extend the delivery of training workshops through the Just Enterprise programme for a further 12 months, before reviewing this.

2D.3. Strengthening community governance and skills

We will strengthen leadership, governance and skills within enterprising community anchor organisations through our support for a Community Leadership and Collaboration pathfinder programme.

2D.4. Promoting governance excellence

We will support initiatives to promote and share excellence in the governance of social enterprises, including support for the annual Scottish Trustees Week, the development of Good Governance Guidelines, Financial Literacy for board members and other targeted board development initiatives.

2D.5. Encouraging mentoring and exchange

We will bring forward mentoring and exchange programmes that best serve the needs of social enterprise leaders and managers. Our support for the Scottish Community Alliance's Community Learning Exchange will continue this important source of inspiration and peer learning, while we take the time to identify other promising approaches.

2D.6. Developing an international outlook

We will help social enterprise leaders to foster their international outlook, learning and connections. Through the funding of bursary places, we will enable our leaders to participate in the Social Enterprise World Forum (SEWF) in New Zealand in 2017 as well as other international events, mentoring, learning opportunities.

2D.7. Taking the Scottish approach to the world

We will work with selected learning providers to help extend or replicate social enterprise leadership and education programmes in international markets. This will build on Scotland's world-class offering and enable us to play our part as a catalyst for world knowledge about social enterprise.

2E. Workforce Development

Social enterprises rely on a capable and motivated workforce and, in turn, actively nurture the contribution of their employees. The evidence tells us that this adds up to a very substantial contribution to volunteering, job creation, social inclusion and employability in Scotland. Our ambition is to create the conditions where all social enterprises are able to provide fair workplaces and build human potential.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


2E.1. Supporting the development of Social Firms

We will provide ongoing support to the national agency for social firms, Social Firms Scotland, as it continues to promote and support Work Integration Social Enterprises.

2E.2. Transforming the potential of supported businesses

We will continue work with Supported Businesses across Scotland, seeking creative ways to enable them to transform their business models, flourish commercially and sustain employment for disabled and disadvantaged people.

2E.3. Recognising the contribution of social enterprises as employers

We will further encourage social enterprises to champion equality, diversity, fair pay and progressive workplace policies. By promoting take-up of the Scottish Business Pledge and Scottish Living Wage Accreditation, we will recognise and showcase the role of social enterprises as supportive employers.

2E.4. Ensuring a strategic voice on employability issues

We will enable social enterprises and the wider third sector to help shape employability policy, by continuing to support the Scottish Third Sector Employability Forum and Employability Social Enterprise Network.

2E.5. Developing Scotland's young workforce

We will support the development of the young workforce in Scotland by providing additional accredited learning experiences within social enterprises. These opportunities should inspire young people and support their employability and entrepreneurship skills.

2E.6. Meeting skills requirements and training needs

We will ensure that the products and programmes of Skills Development Scotland, our national skills agency, are fully responsive and accessible to Scotland's social enterprises.

2F. Demonstrating Social Value

We are committed to ensuring that social enterprises are able to produce the evidence they need to show they deliver well, produce impacts (social, economic and environmental), and live up to appropriate values and practices. This is vital if social enterprises are to extend influence, make better decisions and ensure public accountability. Our ambition is for all social enterprises to be able to demonstrate social value in a holistic, transparent and compelling way.

Key Actions

Year 1


Year 2


Year 3


2F.1. Towards a Scottish approach

We will work with Social Value Lab to consult, identify and develop the approach to demonstrating value that will best serve Scotland's social enterprise community. This should equip even small organisations with the knowledge and tools to provide a balanced account of their performance and impact.

2F.2. Aligning social reporting requirements

We will work with regulators and funders to ensure that reporting requirements are better framed and aligned whilst maintaining both proportionality and consistency.

2F.3. Making available technical support and advice

We will introduce dedicated advisory support for social impact measurement within any future business support programmes for the social enterprise sector. We recognise that the ability to demonstrate social value is central to business success.

2F.4. Designing learning to improve social impact practice

We will work with the Social Enterprise Academy to bring forward a redesigned introductory learning programme in Measuring Social Impact that offers social enterprise leaders with a break-through method for strengthening impact practice.

2F.5. Testing new methods of demonstrating value

We will test new impact measurement models, technologies and advice. Initially, we will support Assist Social Capital to pilot its Unlocking Potential social capital evaluation tool in partnership with a small number of local Social Enterprise Networks.

2F.6. Building a culture of self-evaluation

We will support the development of self-evaluation training and resources that make evaluation more useful and relevant to the social enterprise sector.