Highlands and Islands Enterprise

Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Sector Profile

Executive Summary


Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) commissioned GEN, working with Rock Solid Research and Research Resource, to undertake a profiling exercise of the social enterprise sector in the Highlands and Islands.

The objectives for the study are to:

• Review existing records, statistical data and research literature with a view to benchmarking social enterprise sector activity in the Highlands and Islands with the rest of Scotland, the UK and elsewhere, identifying areas of distinctiveness or opportunity;

• Undertake a comprehensive profiling of the social enterprise sector in the Highlands and Islands. This includes production of a  standard template to profile the social enterprise sector;

• Gain an understanding of the current and potential role of social enterprises in economic sectoral development across the Highlands  and Islands;

• Gain an overview of the economic and social impacts in the social enterprise sector, arising from HIE investment;

• Identify existing constraints and potential opportunities for growth along with insight into the support required to achieve this growth.
GEN used a mix of methods to undertake the work. A literature and secondary data review was used to set the context for the work.  We carried out 20 stakeholder consultations and a sector confirmation exercise, in-depth survey and focus group programme with organisations operating in the sector.

This is the final report of the study.

Social enterprise – a definition

Using the information gathered through the primary research, we have identified those organisations operating as social enterprises.  The term social enterprise does not have a universally accepted definition.  For the purposes of this study the definition developed by SENSCOT in conjunction with HIE has been adopted, as shown below.

Definition of a Social Enterprise

1. Social enterprises have social and/or environmental objectives;
2. Social enterprises are trading businesses aspiring to financial independence;
3. Social enterprises have an ‘asset lock’ on both trading surplus and residual assets;
4. A social enterprise cannot be the subsidiary of a public sector body;
5. Social enterprises are driven by values – both in mission and business practice.

The data analysis in this report is presented in two ways:

• The term enterprising third sector organisations is used to refer to the sector as a whole – these organisations have a social mission/  purpose and generate some level of trading income;
• The term social enterprise refers to the subset of organisations which are currently generating at least 50% of their turnover from  trading income.

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