CSI Scotland gives vital business boost to social entrepreneurs

CSI Scotland gives vital business boost to social entrepreneurs

A new network of social enterprise business support centres in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Glasgow has been unveiled by business advisors, PwC.

Based within PwC’s city centre offices, the Centres for Social Impact (CSI) Scotland will give social entrepreneurs the opportunity to develop their business skills and attend topical workshops and seminars.

Social enterprises will also be given access to resources that will measure their social impact.

The CSI’s investigative analysis will not only help them identify strategic opportunities but improve an enterprise’s effectiveness, reach and impact within their local community.

Research has recently revealed that while over 50% of people thought businesses with a social purpose could be more effective in supporting their local community and economy than government, almost a third (30%) did not believe that social enterprises could be as competitive as a purely profit focused company.

Kevin Reynard, partner and head of PwC’s Force for Good programme in Scotland, believes the time is ripe to shift perceptions about social enterprises.  He said:

“Social enterprises are often locally led, community driven, and socially motivated. They have the inside track on what is needed to serve and improve a situation, and can offer a lifeline to training and employment for people of all ages.

“You could say they are the best example of ‘ethical capitalism’. However, despite demonstrating innovative and sustainable ways of working, there is still a perception that businesses with a social purpose can’t be profitable and commercial. This needs to change.”

During the CSI Scotland launch, seven social enterprises got an unique opportunity to raise awareness of their organisations  by presenting a ‘60 second elevator pitch’ to over 60 representatives from Scotland’s public, private and third sector.  Leith-based All Together Edinburgh, a retail shop and training centre for people with learning disabilities set up by Debbie Muir in 2010, delivered the most inspirational pitch, winning a £1,000 package of support.

Kevin Reynard, partner, PwC in Scotland, added:

“As with any business, without a rigorous approach to creating a viable business plan with capacity to deliver profit, not just services, there is always a risk that a venture will fail or not measure up to expectations.

“This is where PwC and the CSIs can make a real difference. Our physical and virtual resource sites give entrepreneurs access to the range of business skills they need to compete more effectively and will help widen their private and corporate sector network.

“By measuring their socio-economic impact, we can also help them to refine their strategy and better articulate the important role they play in their community.”

Operating alongside the new CSI Scotland network will be the PwC Social Entrepreneurs Club offering free support, mentoring and networking opportunities to members in Scotland and across the UK. Over 20 entrepreneurs have signed up already from start ups to well established social enterprise leaders.

Fraser Kelly, chief executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, commented:

“These initiatives show that corporate firms, such as PwC, can get deeply involved with social enterprise, sharing their skills and advice rather than just writing a cheque and getting their logo out there. It’s all about real engagement and making a difference.”