A grant support scheme has been launched to assist the development and creation of social enterprises in Aberdeenshire.
Councillors agreed to support the sector with a £200,000 Social Enterprise Support Fund which is open for applications until March 2019.
The fund includes grants for new permanent employees, training, expert advice and for feasibility studies into new income streams.
There is also a grant for the establishment of new social enterprises, and for the establishment of new income streams for existing social enterprises.
To benefit from the scheme the social enterprises will have to be legal entities which can trade and where there is an asset lock. This means that if the business was dissolved the assets would be passed on to an organisation with similar aims.
There is also provision to ensure the award of a grant will not be detrimental to other local businesses.
Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC), Peter Argyle, said: “Aberdeenshire has some great social enterprises already and by creating this fund the Council acknowledges the contribution they make to the north east community, helping to make them more sustainable and possibly broaden their horizons.”
ISC vice chair, John Cox, said: “There are a number of grants available for differing purposes, all designed to support existing social enterprises and encourage community minded individuals and organisations to consider the possibility of establishing a new one.
“This Fund was established following feedback that specialist advice and financial support was essential in setting up a new social enterprise.”