How to support struggling social enterprises

How to support struggling social enterprises
Community Enterprise
19.03.14

Dear Laurence,

Re. your piece on SE failure

We are also very saddened to hear about Hebridean Chocolates and I am very interested in the point you raise about “a place where an SE could go when it’s struggling”.   I am sure that these guys will have had a lot of support, particularly by being linked into Third Sector Hebrides  but at Community Enterprise we come  across a lot of social enterprises who are struggling and on the verge of insolvency (or past it) and they are largely abandoned by the support networks that exist.  We try to help as best we can.   Though it is tempting to let the business die, the negative social impact is often devastating.

In addition, most SEs ask for help too late and problems can be hard to fix so I agree that there should be a high profile early warning system that can feed people into a support mechanism where a rescue package can be put together.   With ourselves and others in the sector, and funded support like Business Gateway and Just Enterprise, I don’t believe it is beyond us to create something like this.   There is a huge need to stimulate new innovation, but the bedrock of the social enterprise sector in Scotland is thousands of enterprises just getting on with things and it is vital that a safety net is put in place to nurture these folk at difficult times.

If any other sector supporters are interested, I would happy to pull some thoughts together. 

Douglas Westwater
Executive Director
Community Enterprise