Supporting Scotland's social enterprises

Looking back on a year of investment.

Scotland’s social enterprise strategy has delivered more than £7 million of investment in its first year.

Since the new strategy was launched in December 2016, £1.2 million has gone into free specialist business support, £1.1 million into a national social enterprise incubator and £330,000 to provide social enterprise learning in primary and secondary schools across the country.

Social enterprises are businesses that trade for the common good. They seek to make profits, but are committed to reinvesting these into a social or environmental mission.  Launched at the Grassmarket Community Project, winner of Social Enterprise of the Year 2017, the strategy is Scotland’s first ever long-term plan for the sector and is set over ten years.

Reflecting on the strategy’s first year, Cabinet Secretary for Communities, Social Security and Equalities, Angela Constance said:

“Scotland’s social enterprise sector is seen as a world leader thanks to more than a decade of sustained investment and support. Social enterprises trade for the common good; strengthen our communities, improve people’s life chances and protect the environment.

“Our ten-year strategy demonstrates our on-going commitment to this innovative sector.  I’m delighted to see it helping so many social entrepreneurs to turn their business ideas in reality.  This is just the start and I’m looking forward to see how many more wonderful projects will flourish over the next nine years.

“Social enterprises contribute £2 billion to our economy each year and employs 80,000 people; so they are contributing to the wider economy as well as delivering projects and services in local communities. They are contributing to a fairer, more equal and inclusive Scotland.”


The Social Enterprise Strategy was launched in December 2016 and between December 2016-December 2017 has delivered £7,217,203.

The Scottish Government is committed to conducting a census of the sector every two years. This year’s census found 5,600 social enterprises operating across Scotland, an increase of 8% since 2015, with around 300 new social enterprises start-ups each and every year.  The sector is mostly led by women (64%), contributes £2 billion to the economy and employs over 80,000 people.  Social enterprises play a unique role in Scotland’s rural areas – which accounts for 34% of Scotland’s social enterprises, despite being home to only 18% of the nation’s population.

Following more than a decade of sustained investment, Scotland’s ‘eco-system of support’ for social enterprise is now recognised as world-leading. In order to share knowledge and make new connections, Scotland will host the international ‘Social Enterprise World Forum’ in September 2018  – welcoming thousands of delegates and marking ten years since the inaugural event in Edinburgh. 


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