What do a local shop in Jura, a cart race course in Renfrewshire, a bistro in Greenock, a harbour Dumfries & Galloway and a superhero underwear maker in Glasgow have in common?
They are all part of Scotland’s 5,000 strong social enterprise community, running businesses for social good. And they’ve all used support from the Big Lottery Fund to help develop.
The call for evidence by the Scottish Parliament’s Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee on social enterprise gave me a good chance to reflect on some of the interesting ways we’ve seen organisations achieving social good – and the different kinds of support and funding that help along the way.
We are learning that social enterprises in Scotland benefit from access to different kinds of finance – small and large scale, repayable and non-repayable, capital and multi-year revenue.
We also see that free-to-access support and advice plays an important role in supporting social enterprising, especially where this support is bespoke and specific to the business model, sector or market the enterprise is operating in.
And – perhaps I would say this working for a big grant funder – we believe that grants and loans both have a role to play in supporting delivery and growth in the sector. The key is to build the right funding package for the enterprise.
We used our submission to the Committee to highlight some of the social enterprises we’ve enjoyed working with over the years – we think their stories should be central to the Committee’s consideration. And we were also pleased to shine a spotlight on initiatives like Resilient Scotland, LaunchMe and Community Shares Scotland – all taking fresh approaches to supporting social enterprises.
You can read all the submissions to the Committee and also watch videos of the two evidence sessions.