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.

Strategic Priorities

The Scottish Government aspires to international excellence, leadership and impact for Scotland in the social enterprise field. This is intended to contribute to sustainable economic growth domestically and increase the presence and impact of Scottish social enterprises across the world. In doing so we hope to enhance Scotland's reputation and attractiveness to others.

The following pages set out our ambitions to internationalise social enterprise through action in four interrelated areas:

A. Global Citizenship

B. Trade

C. Investment

D. Education

In pursuing our priorities, we will build on existing international connections and experience, prioritise actions that will add most value, and seek to maintain a balanced profile of domestic and overseas benefits.

A. Global Citizenship

Intended Outcome

Through promoting social enterprise Scotland will contribute to its role as a good global citizen, and extend its international impact. This will help to frame, lead, and accelerate global developments in the social enterprise movement.

Action Areas

A1. A good global citizen

Scotland continues to make distinctive contributions in addressing global challenges such as climate change, tackling inequality and promoting human rights, sharing our knowledge, skills and technical expertise for global good. We are proud that Scotland has played a leading role in the development of the global social enterprise movement for more than a decade. We will now progressively build social enterprise into Scotland's programme of policy, culture and trade-orientated overseas Ministerial visits and inter-governmental engagement. We will share our experience in social enterprise, and work with others towards shared goals.

A2. Supporting international development

The Scottish Government continues to work in partnership to alleviate poverty and achieve the Millennium Development Goals and the Post 2015 Sustainable Development Goals. We regard social enterprise to be a more inclusive, empowering and sustainable way of delivering on our international development goals. As such, we will actively promote a social enterprise approach in contributing to the global fight against poverty, through Scotland's collaboration with Malawi and other priority countries. We will encourage ways to mobilise social enterprise partners where Scotland contributes emergency humanitarian funding in response to the crises. Domestically, we will encourage greater social enterprise involvement in Fair Trade initiatives as another way of supporting our partnership with developing nations.

A3. Extending international engagement

We will continue to value and build our bilateral relationships, working with others to pursue shared objectives. In this, social enterprise has an important role in supporting Scotland's trade and innovation objectives, particularly in those international markets where we have a long-term economic interest. As such, we will identify ways in which support for social enterprise development can be included in our engagement strategies with our priority countries and working with local partners to explore how Scottish expertise can help meet social, environmental and economic challenges.

A4. Scotland in Europe

Scotland's social enterprise community has traditionally played a strong and engaged part in EU policy, learning and exchange networks. The 2016 EU Referendum has now created uncertainty in markets and trading relationships in Europe and beyond. We are committed to maintaining our relationship with Europe and we will ensure that Scotland remains a strong partner and ally to European colleagues, continuing to share learning, foster trading relationships, and work in a spirit of solidarity and collaboration.

Community Energy Scotland

Community Energy Scotland (CES) is a social enterprise that provides practical help for communities on green energy development and energy conservation. Its trading activities include providing project development and consultancy services and the development of larger scale wind and hydro developments.

CES has contributed to Scotland's climate justice and international agendas through delivering a ground-breaking programme in Malawi. A key element of the Scottish Government's flagship three-year Malawi Renewable Energy Acceleration Programme, the Community Energy Development Programme ( CEDP), delivered by CES, worked in close partnership with 12 rural off-grid communities across the country. With local partners, it developed and delivered a series of solar photo-voltaic ( PV) projects providing water and electricity to community organisations, schools and clinics. In a number of communities it has helped set up local small businesses to manufacture, market and sell portable fuel-efficient stoves, and to sell portable solar products - selfsustaining solutions to local needs. On completion of the programme, a new locally-owned body - Community Energy Malawi - was established to continue and build on work throughout the country.

By working in partnership with rural communities, CES directly impacted the lives of over 20,439 rural Malawians.

B. Trade

Intended Outcome

Scotland's social enterprises will become more aware of international opportunities and more global in their outlook. More social enterprises will go on to grow their international sales and impact.

Action Areas

B1. Gathering intelligence

If ambitions are to be realised then social enterprises and those that support them must be adequately informed. Further early research will be carried out to help understand the scope, potential and offering of social enterprises to international markets. Ongoing real time intelligence about business and partnership opportunities will be provided by overseas staff from Scottish Development International ( SDI), the British Council, and specialist partners.

B2. Fostering an international outlook

If social enterprises are to operate beyond Scotland then a better understanding of international opportunities is necessary together with a greater appetite and ability to seize them. Awareness of international opportunities will be encouraged as part of social entrepreneurship awards and specialist social enterprise start-up programmes in Scotland. Existing sources of support will be promoted to potential and early stage social enterprise exporters to take their first steps into international markets, including free one-to-one advice, networking events, accredited training, and support for Starter Market Visits and participation in Trade Shows. Further bespoke events, guidance and case studies will be brought forward through the Just Enterprise programme, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, in partnership with SDI.

B3. Realising trading ambitions

Where potential exists, it will be necessary to work intensively with a growing number of social enterprises to help expand activity in overseas markets. To this end, Just Enterprise, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise will continue to offer supported referral to specialist forms of export assistance. As the primary source of business support engagement for social enterprise, Just Enterprise will identify social enterprises that have potential to internationalise and signpost these to SDI. Social enterprises will be encouraged to avail themselves of the range of supports from SDI export advisors and, where appropriate, access to financial assistance.

B4. Making the connections

For social enterprises to flourish in international markets we must build on established international trade networks and connections. Links between Scotland's social enterprise community and SDI will be strengthened. Opportunities will be taken to showcase social enterprise innovations, products and services and to capitalise on nearshore opportunities via Scotland's Innovation and Investment Hubs in London, Brussels and Dublin. Deeper connections will be formed with British Council Social Enterprise country programmes and partners. Corporate partnerships will be cultivated where social enterprises can benefit from global networks and supply chains.

Grassmarket Tartans

Grassmarket Community Project is a social enterprise arising from a century old partnership between Greyfriars Kirk and the Grassmarket Mission in Edinburgh. It provides shelter and structure for those who need it and sustains activities through a series of commercial activities.

Taking inspiration from the famous local story of Greyfriars Bobby, a weaving group formed by the organisation designed the Greyfriars Tartan in 2011. From modest origins, an in-house tailor has gone on to equip group members to design and create prototypes for a growing range of tartans and associated handmade products. While making the products, members undergo a comprehensive textiles training programme and gain a variety of transferable skills as they develop their employability.

With early stage investment from the Scottish Government's Enterprise Ready Fund, Grassmarket Community Project was able to carry out the product development, design protection, branding, and marketing required to take its premium products to market. With support from an SDI export advisor, Grassmarket Tartans are now being sold online - both retail and wholesale - and shipped in small quantities to US and Asia markets. Licencing opportunities are also being explored. Most recently, as part of the British Council's Social Investment is Great campaign, Grassmarket Tartans have been introduced to the Korean Market where cultural and commercial partnerships are being explored.

C. Investment

Intended Outcome

An environment will exist where Scottish social enterprises have access to the investment they need to expand international reach and impact, and to ensure Scotland is a destination of choice.

Action Areas

C1. Anchoring international activity

A number of international social enterprises are already headquartered in Scotland which, through their federal structures or an intermediary role, support the global connectedness and reach of other social enterprises. Recognising both their importance and vulnerability, focused support will be put in place to retain and build on the contribution. This will include the introduction of a redesigned International Social Enterprise Programme from the Scottish Government combined with specialist business support.

C2. Securing finance for international expansion

Current sources of social finance in Scotland are not well aligned to the development of social enterprises where activities and beneficiaries are located overseas. The potential for innovation in the design of social investment mechanisms will therefore be explored. Work will also be undertaken to identify and encourage global foundations, philanthropists and funds to support social enterprise initiatives that operate on a transnational basis, bringing benefits at home and abroad.

C3. Investing in Scotland as a destination

We must also recognise and invest in those social enterprises that enhance Scotland's reputation and which help make the country an attractive destination for foreign visitors. Building on the success of Highlands and Islands Enterprise and Scottish Enterprise, we will identify and target support towards account-managed social enterprises with a strong cultural, heritage and tourism offering.

C4. Inward social enterprise visits

The strong overseas demand to experience social enterprise in Scotland has led to many and frequent inward visits from groups around the world. Guests have included students, social enterprise practitioners, representatives from social enterprise intermediary bodies, and policy-makers - all keen to understand our policy environment and benefit from shared experiences and learning. Scotland will continue to support inward visits both to enhance the reputation of Scotland and ensure that our social enterprises benefit from expanded connections, networks and markets.

Strathspey Railway Company

Established in 1971, Strathspey Railway Company is a social enterprise that operates a 16 km preserved railway between Aviemore, Boat of Garten and Broomhill Stations. It is one of only a handful of main lines to be preserved in Britain today. Its historic engines (dating back to the late 1800s) offer visitors a scenic trip through the UK's largest National Park.

With support from Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Strathspey Railway Company has been able to purchase a top class catering carriage. This has enabled the social enterprise to establish and professionally market its unique fine dining experience to international visitors. Its focus on international markets has been further developed through participation in an International Strategy Workshop and Digital Health Check. Digital marketing and an online booking system are now critical to success, with more than 80% of bookings made and paid for online.

As a result, Strathspey Railway continues to go from strength to strength. During 2015, a recordbreaking 70,000 visitors from all over the world travelled on board its historic steam and diesel services. Turnover continues to rise and now exceeds £800,000 annually, with a growing proportion of traded income from international visitors. A major investment is now being made in extending the railway line by 6km to Grantown-on-Spey, including the building of a greenfield station.

D. Education

Intended Outcome

Scotland will become recognised as a world catalyst for knowledge about social enterprise and the leading destination for learning about it. This will build on Scotland's world-class educational offering and reputation for research excellence.

Action Areas

D1. Sharing learning

Scotland is becoming known and respected throughout the world for its pioneering business models, effective ecosystem of support for social enterprise, and particular success in fostering rural resilience through social enterprise. We will share this learning with the world, in partnership with a variety of international agencies. We will also offer a more co-ordinated response and high value offering to those incoming delegations that want to learn about the Scottish approach to social enterprise.

D2. Strengthening international outlook

Scotland is fortunate to have many social enterprises that are led by inspiring and talented people - including young leaders whose personal and professional development will benefit from further international exposure. Domestically, we will ensure that existing leadership development programmes have an appropriate international orientation. Additional opportunities will also be created for Scottish social entrepreneurs and social enterprise leaders to participate in the annual Social Enterprise World Forum and other global events that will help foster international outlook, learning, and connections.

D3. Extending education

Scotland has an exceptional educational offering. This is important in fostering social entrepreneurship and developing leadership practice in formal and non-formal educational settings. Where tried-and-tested programmes exist - such as the programmes of the Social Enterprise Academy and Challenges Worldwide - we will actively support their extension or replication in international markets. Where opportunities exist to attract foreign students to study social entrepreneurship in Scotland (e.g. the MSc Social Business and Microfinance at Glasgow Caledonian University), we will encourage the university sector to capitalise on these opportunities.

D4. Collaboration through research

Scotland has abundant knowledge and intellectual capability to share. This is evident in its internationally recognised research institutions (e.g. Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health) and ground-breaking research (e.g. Social Enterprise in Scotland Census). Recognising that the impact of research is best achieved through collaboration, Scotland will continue to play a leading role in international research networks and actively explore development and participation in new transnational research projects. In partnership with the Social Enterprise World Forum, we will support examination of the potential to establish an international social enterprise research 'observatory', which would harvest learning from across the world, spot trends, strengthen the Scottish evidence base and shape developments in the field.

Social Enterprise Academy

The Social Enterprise Academy delivers learning and development programmes focused on leadership, enterprise, personal development and social impact. Its programmes support individuals, organisations and networks to grow strong social enterprises, teams and communities.

Responding to international demand, since 2012 the Social Enterprise Academy has developed a social franchise model of replication as well as exporting consultancy services and programmes directly to international markets. Its business model is adapted and contextualised for each culture in a co-design process. The financial model aims to make each local hub independently sustainable, while contributing to the costs of products, systems, quality, qualifications and communication support services in a centre of excellence in Scotland. Initial investment in its international expansion from the Scottish Government, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Social Investment Scotland, and Big Issue Invest has, after a three-year pilot, been almost equalled by earned income from export and trade outside of Scotland.

Based on its twelve-year track record in Scotland, in 2016 the Academy has reached learners in over 30 countries, and now has hubs developing in 10 locations around the world.


Email: Will Tyler-Greig,

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