Social enterprise ambitions for 2022 and beyond

Posted: 25 January 2022, in News

After a somewhat bizarre and challenging two years, we very much hope that 2022 holds the promise of new growth and success for our social enterprise movement. It’s certainly been a rollercoaster ride for our social enterprises, both good and bad, with a steep learning curve for many of us. 

Despite all the challenges we’ve faced it’s vital that we grasp the many opportunities of the year ahead and place social enterprise centre stage in a wide range of policy areas. It’s also worth reminding ourselves of the great work that’s already taken place over the past months and continues to influence our work in developing and growing our social enterprise community.

The Social Enterprise Action Plan, currently being implemented within the social enterprise eco-system, is the latest practical document that forms part of Scotland’s Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026

Social Enterprise Scotland and our partner organisations have been busy ensuring that the plan benefits all social enterprises. For example, our launch of Buy Social Scotland for consumers to get gifts and services direct from socially impactful businesses and the Corporate Challenge, to get social enterprises into private sector supply chains, are both significant developments.

We’ve spent a lot of time over the past 22 months supporting members throughout the lockdown period. We pivoted to digital events and services, campaigned for and signposted to funding and individually contacted all members to produce research on lockdown impacts. 

We’ve ensured that social enterprise voices were heard in influential policy forums like our Cross-Party Group in The Scottish Parliament, through our Get Your Voice Heard #GYVH work and on social media and traditional media channels.

The Social Enterprise Census is due to be published soon too. The data from this important research project helps our social enterprise community to understand where we’re at and where we’re going. It allows us to build strong foundations and to tailor the right business and funding support to drive social enterprise development. The previous study was in 2019, when over 6000 social enterprises were identified in Scotland.

In terms of wider policy areas for the year ahead the Fair Work initiative will play a key part. We’re keen on social enterprises leading the way in implementing fair work work practices, demonstrating to public and private sector colleagues how this can be done. This includes paying the real living wage, empowering employees to get their voices heard, flexible working and the 4 day week and much more.

There’s also work being carried out to examine, measure and improve the purpose of all businesses in Scotland with the new Business Purpose Commission. Clearly social enterprises are already at the forefront of building social purpose and there are a lot of mutual learning opportunities. Alongside our friends in the ethical and values-led business and B Corp business community there’s huge potential to drive real change in the private sector.

We of course have the big ongoing challenge, along with all other sectors and organisations, of tackling the climate emergency. This includes building a circular economy in Scotland, showcasing social enterprise success. We’re keen to continue highlighting the powerful local impacts of green social enterprises and to support all social enterprises on the journey to net zero. 

The Scottish Government’s 10 Year Strategy for Economic Transformation and Community Wealth Building are other significant opportunities to place social enterprise at the centre of recovery and the building of a wellbeing economy that prioritises human wellbeing and a healthy, sustainable planet. We need to continue exploring how social enterprises get involved here too. 

It’s essential that the social enterprise voice is heard in all of these policy areas and initiatives. The challenge is to bring together projects with similar aims and objectives to build a wellbeing economy. Our social enterprise community can and should lead the way.   

Duncan Thorp, Social Enterprise Scotland

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