Internationalising Social Enterprise: A Strategy for Scotland (September 2016)

A strategy for implementing our ambitions for international excellence, leadership and impact in the social enterprise field.

Policy Context

Scotland's success will be increasingly realised through strengthening our links with the global economy and international community. Our ambitions to internationalise social enterprise sit within an already well-developed policy framework.

International Framework

Scotland's International Framework sets the direction for international activity. It outlines our ambition for Scotland, its people, businesses and institutions through four strategic international objectives: enhancing global outlook; strengthening relationships and partnerships; increasing reputation and attractiveness; and engaging with the European Union.

Economic Strategy

Scotland's Economic Strategy outlines an over-arching framework for a more competitive and a fairer Scotland and identifies four broad priority areas where our actions will be targeted to make a difference. A key strand of the Strategy is internationalisation. It describes our ambition to promote Scotland on the international stage to boost our trade and investment, influence and networks.

Trade and Investment Strategy

Scotland's economic success will be increasingly realised through strengthening our links with the global economy. Our Trade and Investment Strategy sets out a series of initiatives to encourage more firms to export and to support existing investors to develop, grow and expand in Scotland. It recognises the importance of social enterprises globally to meeting the growing demand from citizens, consumers and Governments for a responsible approach to business; one which considers human rights and social and environmental benefit alongside economic impact.

One Scotland programme

Achieving success depends on collaborative working. We are therefore committed to working in partnership with others to fully realise our international potential and secure international objectives. This includes establishing One Scotland Partnerships that set out clear trade and innovation goals for specific international markets and for piloting Innovation and Investment Hubs at key global locations.

International Development Policy

Our International Development Policy articulates the vision of Scotland's place in the world and the commitment to play its role in addressing the challenges faced by our world. With a focus on working in partnership and achieving real and tangible outcomes on the ground, the Policy seeks to build on both the historical and contemporary relationships that exist between Scotland and the developing world.

Social Enterprise Strategy

Scotland has built up a considerable track record as a world leader in the development of social enterprise and the social economy. Our ten-year strategy for Scotland (also to be published in Autumn 2016) will set out how we will create the conditions for social enterprise to flourish domestically and build on our already successful ecosystem of support. This will provide the platform on which the Scottish Government's international ambitions for the social enterprise sector can be realised.

Social Enterprise World Forum

The Social Enterprise World Forum ( SEWF) was conceived and launched in Scotland in 2008 to advance the global social enterprise movement and support international learning and exchange. It has gone on to engage with thousands of social enterprise leaders and practitioners from over 50 countries worldwide. Since inception, annual events have been hosted in Edinburgh, Melbourne, San Francisco, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Calgary, Seoul, and Milan. In doing so, SEWF has helped to focus and accelerate the development of social enterprise on every continent.

In 2013, the Scottish Government supported the Social Enterprise World Forum to establish a secretariat headquartered in Scotland that now supports the hosts for each annual event, and works with partners to develop the international social enterprise movement. SEWF CIC is building a sustainable social enterprise company governed by a global board of directors, where its secretariat and development activities are resourced by event licence fees and core costs do not therefore require grant support.

The work of the Social Enterprise World Forum, in partnership with the Scottish Government and international partners has created a worldwide legacy. Work is now underway to bring the 2018 Social Enterprise World Forum back to Scotland, to enable the social enterprise community to convene in the country which has done more than any other to support the development of this global movement.


Email: Will Tyler-Greig,

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