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.

Action Plan

The Scottish Government aspires to international excellence, leadership, and impact for Scotland in the social enterprise field.

We will now work together in a broad partnership to deliver a holistic, co-ordinated and appropriately resourced package of initiatives and actions. The following pages summarise early actions relating to each of our strategic priorities together with the results we expect. These actions will be developed into a detailed Delivery Plan, overseen by a reference group, convened by the Scottish Government and including relevant agencies, and representatives from the social enterprise sector.

Our progress in delivering this Action Plan will be subject to regular review and refinement and these arrangements will be set out in the Delivery Plan.

Global Citizenship
Priority Proposed Actions Expected Results
A1 Communicating the Story
Develop a communications strategy and associated evidence, case studies and resources.
Through co-ordinated efforts and supporting materials we will ensure consistent international promotion of the Scottish approach to social enterprise.
A1 Policy Development
Future government policy to be developed with reference to international social enterprise potential.
Future strategies relating to economic development, trade and investment, and international development will reinforce support for the internationalisation of social enterprise.
A1 Ministerial Visits
Where appropriate, Ministerial visits will promote Scotland's policies to promote social enterprise.
Ministerial overseas visits will enhance the strategic relevance and recognition of social enterprise in Scotland.
A1 Ambassadors
Prominent overseas social enterprise leaders to be introduced as ambassadors within the GlobalScot Network while Scottish social enterprise leaders will be identified to represent Scotland's interests abroad.
Social enterprise ambassadors at home and abroad will deepen the global connectivity of Scotland, in particular, harnessing the potential of a supportive diaspora in Australia, Canada and elsewhere.
A2 International Development
Work with International Division, Official Development Assistance, Social Enterprises and others.
Scottish social enterprises will be encouraged to bid for current international development funding delivering overseas development activity, which in turn will lead to a demonstrable impact on inward investment, social outcomes and legacy.
A3 Country Engagement
Identify social enterprises well-placed to Support One Scotland partnership Country Plans and complement trade and innovation objectives.
Identified social enterprises will add value to Country Plans and support their engagement and delivery.
Priority Proposed Actions Expected Results
B1 Research
Social Enterprise in Scotland Census data to support targeted engagement with social enterprises.
An analytical report based on 2015 data will help to understand characteristics of international social enterprises, while future Census data collection will determine progress and identify future support needs.
B2 International Outlook
Promotional campaign to focus on export awareness among social enterprise.
Early promotional activities will help to identify social enterprises ready to internationalise.
B2 Instilling Ambition
Specialist business support services to encourage consideration of international potential among new start and fledgling social enterprises.
Early and positive engagement will help instil a global outlook and ambition among social entrepreneurs.
B3 Realising Ambitions
Just Enterprise, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to refer social enterprises to sources of specialist export advice.
Social enterprises, where fulfilling the criteria for support, will benefit from export advice and financial assistance from SDI and others, leading to a measured increase in international trading activity by social enterprises.
B4 Agency Connections
Broker connections between social enterprises operating internationally and agencies wishing to support them.
Increased connection will lead to a deeper understanding and enhanced support by Scottish Government Ministers, Scottish Government Overseas Offices, Scotland's Innovation and Investment Hubs, SDI Overseas Offices, Department for International Trade Overseas Offices and other agencies.
Priority Proposed Actions Expected Results
C1 Anchoring International Activity
Map the contribution of Challenges Worldwide and other international organisations to the objectives of this strategy.
Through active engagement and support, international organisations will be supported to headquarter and deliver from Scotland.
C1 Scotland on the World Stage
Prepare a Scottish proposal to host SEWF in Scotland in September 2018, including financial model, stakeholders, location, infrastructure, and legacy plan.
SEWF 2018 will increase recognition of Scotland's progress as a global leader in social enterprise development.
C2 Securing Finance
Develop intelligence about potential philanthropic donors and investors, including geographic and thematic priorities.
Early engagement with foundations and investors will help expand opportunities for Scottish organisations whose beneficiaries are overseas.
C3 Investing in Scotland
Approach international agencies and foundations to examine research, investment or location possibilities.
Engagement with agencies and foundations will secure commitments that will enhance Scotland's inward investment and reputation.
C4 Inward Social Enterprise Visits
Work with the British Council and others to co-ordinate and develop incoming study visits.
Inward visits will both enhance the reputation of Scotland and ensure that our social enterprises benefit from expanded connections, networks and markets.
Priority Proposed Actions Expected Results
D1 International Exchange
Help develop social enterprise links with priority countries through delivery of engagement strategies with priority countries.
Inward and outward exchanges will foster mutual respect, learning and collaboration between countries.
D1 Sharing Learning
Disseminate learning in partnership with a variety of international agencies.
Knowledge transfer will ensure that evidence about the Scottish social enterprise ecosystem and its impact is shared with the world.
D2 Strengthening Leadership
Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise to support social enterprise leader participation in the SEWF conference, study visits and other global events via a bursary scheme.
Bursaries will enable social enterprise leaders to foster international outlook, learning, and connections.
D3 Extending Education
Support Social Enterprise Academy and Challenges Worldwide to extend or replicate leadership and education programmes in international markets.
Leading Scottish social enterprise learning providers will reach scale and impact through further global reach.
D3 Attracting Overseas Students
Work with relevant universities to attract foreign students to study social entrepreneurship in Scotland.
Increasing interest among foreign students will reinforce Scotland's reputation as a world centre for social enterprise education and research.
D4 Research Collaboration
Undertake a feasibility study to determine the case for an international social enterprise research observatory based in Scotland.
The potential will be identified to harvest learning from across the world, spot trends, strengthen the Scottish evidence base and shape developments in the field.


Email: Will Tyler-Greig,

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