Innovative Scottish businesses beat the recession with major cash injection for social change

Innovative Scottish businesses beat the recession with major cash injection for social change

Four visionary Scottish social entrepreneurs are each celebrating a £20,000 award, but £1 million is still up for grabs before 2011.

The winners were:

Bosco Santimano – You Can Cook (Peebles) provides fun cookery workshops that aim to empower local communities to make informed choices about their food and health.

Bruce MacLeod – Sustainable Wood Solutions (Glasgow) addresses energy concerns by utilising waste timber to establish a secure supply chain for biomass boilers, whilst also manufacturing quality products and creating training and employment opportunities.

Pete Carthy – Borders Environmental Education Services BEES (Chirnside) provides thought provoking and challenging environmental/outdoor learning experiences, at the cutting edge of educational development research.

Lubna Kerr – Centre of Health and Wellbeing (Edinburgh) works in locations that are easily accessible for clients, to offer complementary therapies and treatments such as massage and reflexology alongside traditional health checks like blood pressure or cholesterol.
The money – part of the £1 million Social Entrepreneurs Fund put forward by the Scottish Government and distributed by social entrepreneur advice organisation Firstport – is one strand of a larger strategy to encourage social entrepreneurs, to support organisations working with the most vulnerable in society, and to keep the economy moving.

Lubna Kerr, of the Centre of Health and Wellbeing, said that winning the award represented a major boost, both financially and as a mark of approval: ‘Winning the award means being able to develop an idea further and to have the knowledge that people believe in what you’re doing.’

In addition to the awards, Firstport offers advice to start up social entrepreneurs.  Kerr says the support and advice she received has been crucial to her success: ‘I am a pharmacist; I was somebody who knew nothing about business. They take you from whatever level you’re at and then provide you with the opportunities, with all the practical skills that if you’re coming into business, you won’t have.  That might be financial access, or support, or they might get you on a course… so really you can be somebody with as little knowledge as I had about business and turn into a Richard Branson!’

Level One awards of up to £5,000 assist visionary entrepreneurs to turn their dreams into reality, while Level Two awards (up to £20,000) support individuals who have set up their business but need additional resources to take it to the next stage. Over £1 million is still available over this year and next.

Naomi Johnson, Executive Director of Firstport, described the winners as outstanding, adding: ‘All the award winners demonstrated excellent business ideas and the potential for future growth, which is crucial to the survival of any new business.’

Past winners boast an impressive track record: Recycle Fife now employs 51 staff and recycles 160 tonnes of waste a month, while BookDonors was listed second in the RBS SE100 index of fastest growing companies in employment and training, with a turnover of £441,451 and growth of 92%.  Johnson said: ‘With such a great track record, we have high hopes for our latest winners, and would encourage anyone out there with a vision to get in touch. We can help you make it a reality!’

For more information please contact Karen McGregor, Fund Manager Firstport 07800 863 837