Whilst COVID-19 has been traumatic and touched the lives of everyone it has also shone a spotlight on the persistent inequality that still exists across our society. As we move forward we need to ensure that recovering from the pandemic is about much more than just reverting back to the way things were - instead, we need to reform what we do and reimage what we want to be. Scotland's renewal must be rooted in fairness and equality. Social enterprises will be central to this work, because they point to an approach that helps us rebalance our economy and enables us to translate our aspirations around creating a wellbeing economy into a reality.
We have so much to build from - our history tells a strong and centuries old story of philanthropy and business with social purpose. Internationally, Scotland is recognised as a world-leader and part of a growing global Social Enterprise movement. And we have a flourishing and vibrant domestic social enterprise sector with our social entrepreneurs continually seeking to develop a more inclusive way of doing business.
Social Enterprises across Scotland are characterised by kindness and compassion and are led by creative, caring and innovative entrepreneurs that are dedicated to making a positive difference. Now more than ever, we need a strong and resilient social enterprise sector to help move Scotland forward.
But even with a strong history and heritage of doing business for social good, and even with a strong reputation domestically and globally for strong social enterprises, we know there is always more we can do.
Our Social Enterprise strategy set us on a wide-ranging, ambitious and long-term programme to develop the potential of Scotland's social enterprise sector. It described a clear path to stimulating social enterprise activity, developing stronger organisations, and realising market opportunity over a ten-year timeframe.
This action plan has been produced collaboratively with the sector and sits within that overarching strategy, setting the approach to social enterprise over the next 3 years by focussing on three priorities: stimulating the sector, developing stronger organisations and realising market opportunities.
Of course there are many challenges ahead – the impact of COVID has been brutal and harsh, we will need to adapt to the consequences of Brexit, and climate change remains a real and significant threat.
In the face of such challenge, we will need to work together in partnership and across a range of fronts - in a country of just five-million, there is no alternative. And to deliver the actions set out within this Action Plan will require hard work and commitment. But with the prospect of building on the growing momentum for social change, a renewed sense of localism and a reconnection with what is on our doorstep, and a re-appreciation of what matters in life, the hard work will be worth it. Because if we work together, guided by the principles of fairness and equality and all the values that drive and underpin our social enterprises, we can bring transformative change for our communities and our people.
I am grateful to all those who have collaborated in the production of this important publication. This includes Social Value Lab who have drafted this action plan, our public sector partners; Scottish Enterprise, Highlands and Islands Enterprise and South of Scotland Enterprise. It also includes our Third Sector Partners; CEIS, Firstport, Social Enterprise Academy, Social Enterprise Network Scotland, Social Enterprise Scotland and Social Investment Scotland.
Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government