Sunshine and Social Enterprise

Posted: 07 July 2015, in Sector News


Sunshine and social enterprise

Our Third Force News (TFN) article from 7 July 2015.

Buying from social enterprises is great at any time of year but we’re big fans of a bit of ethical shopping in the summertime. In Edinburgh, for example, you can walk around the streets and discover Gallery on the Corner, Social Bite, The Grassmarket Community Project, The Bongo Club, Bridge 8 Hub and many others.

It’s great to see TFN running the newly launched Social Enterprise Summer campaign #SocEntSummer. Social enterprises of all kinds are empowering people in every community, driving forward positive change, innovating in public services and discovering inventive ways to deliver goods and services. A focus on Scotland’s most creative business community is welcome news.

Social enterprise is a fundamentally different way to deliver social benefit, compared to traditional charity and voluntary sector models. Social enterprises operate as businesses. They aim to make profit – but they invest 100% of it in their charitable purpose. Social enterprise money is recycled and reinvested, not simply spent before the next round of fundraising takes place. It’s just a more sustainable way to deliver good social impact.

Whether we’re talking about the many enterprising charities, SCIOs, co-operatives, Community Interest Companies (CICs), credit unions, housing associations and any business with a clear social purpose, this diversity is why social enterprises are stronger and more sustainable.

As part of the TFN focus we hope to see lots of great social enterprises highlighted from across rural and urban Scotland. We certainly don’t have a lack of practical, successful case studies. From Venture Mòr to St Andrew’s First Aid, Queens Cross Housing Association, the Whiteinch Centre, The Experience from Kibble, Greigarious Community Arts and Singing and Positive Care Solutions.

The social enterprise community in Scotland is substantial. It’s a growing part of the economy and increasingly important. It contributes to jobs, local regeneration, local supply chains and increases the ethical retail sector. The first ever social enterprise census took place over the past few months and is due to report in late August/early September. We’ll find out, for the very first time, the size, scale and scope of social enterprise activity and we’re confident that it will be an impressive piece of research!

Social enterprises operate in most sectors of the economy and in every corner of Scotland, from housing, to catering, to employability, social care, arts and culture, sport and many other areas. But did you know that there are social enterprises operating in the private security industry, in architecture, in public affairs, the private rented sector, postal services and IT support? So long as there’s a specific social benefit and profits are locked in, then there are no barriers for social enterprise innovation.

Everyone involved in the broad social enterprise community has a responsibility to raise the profile of this better way of doing business and delivering a fairer society. It’s about mutual support. Through the work of Social Enterprise Scotland on social media, the annual Social Enterprise Awards Scotland (deadline Fri 10 July), articles in the traditional press, e-bulletins and by supporting campaigns such as #SocEntSummer from TFN, we can all help – and we will all reap the rewards.