Social Enterprise Spotlight – Social Investment Scotland

Posted: 04 February 2020, in News

Our newest Social Enterprise Spotlight is Steph Smith and Social Investment Scotland. Read and share their Q&A interview below! 
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What’s your social and/or environmental mission? Social Investment Scotland (SIS) exists to support purposeful enterprises unlock their potential for greater, sustainable impact. Our mission is to connect capital (financial, human and social) with communities to make a meaningful, measurable and sustainable impact upon people’s lives.

How do you do it? (client group, practical daily work, customers etc) We provide social loan funding to social enterprises, charities and community groups to support them grow, replicate or become more sustainable; ultimately, creating more social or environmental impact. We also offer business support, from leadership, to accounts and finance, to social impact, as well as various programmes, workshops and events.

What’s your personal motivation for being a social entrepreneur? At SIS, our vision is a purposeful economy. We were founded in 2001 to fill the gap where social enterprises and other purposeful organisations couldn’t access finance from mainstream lenders. We exist to ensure these organisations have access to the finance and support needed to become sustainable and create impact.

What are your current projects? Since 2001, we’ve invested £80 million in over 350 organisations. In addition to investing, our market building support includes the SIS Retail Academy – an intensive bootcamp to support purposeful products reach mainstream retail and corporate markets – and our Ambitions Masterclass series – a programme for leaders of purposeful enterprises.

What exciting things do you have coming up? In addition to our ongoing funding, we have a number of funding and support ‘challenges’ happening throughout 2020. Our annual Retail Academy will be taking place, along with our Ambitions Masterclasses and other exciting market building activity with partners from the third, public and private sector.

Who do you want to work with more? We’re keen to work with support organisations more closely to ensure a linked-up ecosystem that can be easily navigated by those looking for support. We also hope to further connect with the private sector, to enable the wider public to have the opportunity to live a more impactful life.

What’s your biggest challenge? Our biggest challenge is tackling the taboo of loan funding being a ‘bad thing’. Yet, when lent responsibly, it can empower enterprising activity and sustainable thinking. Our customers tell us that social loan finance enables them to remain focused on their social mission while ensuring their business model is sustainable.

What top tips would you give to other social enterprises? Tell your story. Know your proposal. Understand your options (for finance, support and income streams). Strike balance – if you burnout you can’t create impact! It’s all about the people. Think of social value as added value – this will allow you to tackle mainstream markets and create more impact.