Regional spotlight: social enterprise in Scotland

5 Mar 2020

Tracey M (SSE Scotland) and team

Comms Manager, Hannah C explores the social enterprise scene across the UK – second in the series.

Scotland is a world trailblazer when it comes to government support for social enterprise. It’s half-way through delivering a 10-year Social Enterprise Strategy and is the only part of the UK to do a census on the sector. Tracey Muirhead, CEO of SSE Scotland, has been passionately supporting social entrepreneurs, charities and community business for 18 years. She talks past, present and future.

The social-enterprise sector

According to the most recent census, Scotland has over 6,000 social enterprises. They employ more than 88,000 people, with a total combined income of £4.3 billion. Their income is made up of 20% grant-funding and 70% trading activity. The sector is dominated by housing and social care markets, which account for three-quarters of the sector’s income.

The market for social-sector support

A consortium of support agencies, led by Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS), was chosen to deliver a £4.7million government support programme for social entrepreneurs to start and scale their business. Support includes signposting, consultancy, business advice, online training and is delivered by a broad range of agencies.

Now going into its fourth year of a 10 year strategy and with the publishing of its 3 year Action Plan in Spring 2020, there will be many new opportunities for Scotland’s social enterprises.

How SSE Scotland fits in

SSE Scotland has been supporting social entrepreneurs since 2012, but until recently, all support was offered at start-up level. In 2018 it introduced the Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme with additional support from the National Lottery Community Fund and Scottish Government. Tracey explains:

“Our Trade Up Programme was quite ground-breaking for Scotland. It’s why we received funding for it through the ’innovation’ element of the government’s 10 year Action Plan.”

“Our action learning and peer-to-peer support methodology is unique in Scotland. There’s no other year-long programme that offers this kind of ongoing support, one-to-ones with a learning manager, action learning, a mentor and a Match Trading® grant.”

Collaboration across the sector

Tracey’s working with UnLtd on a large social-sector business event that brings together SSE fellows and UnLtd grant awardees. “It’s a brilliant learning and networking opportunity with a guest speaker and large-scale witness session.”

She’s completed a mapping exercise to assess social enterprise support in the Forth Valley area. “We’re hoping to use the data, spot the gaps, and create delivery of future programmes in the region.

Inspiring social entrepreneurs

Sylvia Douglas: MsMissMrs

Sylvia graduated in 2014 from the Bank of Scotland Start Up Programme. She runs an empowerment programme for women in Glasgow, as well as making and selling ‘empowerment pants’. Sylvia has just taken on two new premises in Glasgow and she’s about to launch ‘FemFoods’ – to help women be more creative with their food.

Says Tracey, “she’s an inspiring individual and has been on an amazing personal journey having herself been through the Care system.”

Anette Tonner: Community Focus Scotland CIC

The mission of Annette’s organisation is to reduce poverty and unemployment, creating employment opportunities and services around putting people first. They have delivered over 400 industry training courses in the last year and are an SQA and REHIS accredited centre.  Their Free Food Larder has supported over 12,568 families since opening in 2017.

Tracey says, “Annette is a diamond! She worked for many private training providers and saw so many people falling through the net that she left and set up her social enterprise with zero money.”

Like many SSE students, Annette completed the Bank of Scotland Trade Up Programme a few years after completing the Start Up programme. One month after graduating from Trade Up, Annette secured a contract with Morrison Construction, one of Scotland’s biggest construction companies. Another construction company called Keepmoat Homes will see CFS CIC on their building site in Glasgow – an impressive nine year contract. These contracts will see CFS CIC trading £750,000 – £1 million over 2020-2021.

Tracey explains, “SSE is more than training, it’s a lifelong fellowship – a relationship, a network. Our students tell us that after they’ve left SSE programmes, they can feel like they’re in the wilderness a bit. It’s the ongoing support that social entrepreneurs need and it’s where SSE triumphs.”

Get involved

Tracey and her team will be delivering the Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme in Edinburgh in 2020 – 14 learning days to help grow your trading income and impact, a grant of £5k, a mentor and a support network of like-minded souls.

Register your interest

Email Tracey at tracey@ssescotland.org, visit her website, Facebook or follow on Twitter