Press Release: Politician Shows Support for Scotland’s Social Enterprises
Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition
Kenny MacAskill, Justice Secretary and SNP parliamentary candidate for Edinburgh Eastern pledged support for social enterprises in Scotland at the opening of the annual Social Enterprise Fair – S2S – today (20 April 2011).
The SNP candidate signed up to the new Social Enterprise Charter, showing his support for the continued growth of this vibrant sector in Scottish society.
Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “Scotland’s social enterprises make a huge contribution to our society and our economy. It has been a privilege to see the growing success of Scotland’s social enterprises in recent years. That good work must continue and I am pleased to support the Social Enterprise Charter.
“Over the last four years a £1 million investment from the Government has seen 106 new social enterprises established, the Climate Change Challenge has supported innovative local enterprise in tackling climate change and over 2000 social entrepreneurs have been helped along the way. In tough times there is a real opportunity for social enterprise to shine. I hope we will see social enterprise grow with government support over the next five years as we have for the last four.”
Politicians from all the main parties had the opportunity to sign the Charter at the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition election hustings at The Edinburgh Corn Exchange yesterday evening.
With over 100 stalls and over 700 visitors to the Fair, the interest in what Social Enterprises can do for the people of Scotland despite challenging economic conditions continues to grow.
The S2S Fair brought together social enterprises from across Scotland with the business community and policy makers, promoting trade, collaborations and developing partnerships for the future. Visitors included people interested in setting up social enterprises, social entrepreneurs, public and private sector executives, and members of the public.
Social enterprises – businesses with a social or environmental purpose – now add an estimated £2 billion to the Scottish economy every year and employ around 30,000 people. The social enterprise movement offers a wealth of opportunities for public and private sector businesses, and the fair provides a platform for these opportunities to develop into reality.
The Fair, which was opened this year by Mel Young, co-founder of the international social enterprise Homeless World Cup, also featured workshops and demonstrations hosted by some of Scotland’s leading social entrepreneurs.
Cllr Tom Buchannan of The City of Edinburgh Council (a sponsor of the event) said: "Social enterprises are just as important an element of Edinburgh’s economic structure as our high profile businesses.
"The Council has consistently worked with partners to promote social enterprise, and I am delighted that we are able to support this event for the third year running."
Delegates heard about pricing strategies for social enterprises, marketing, financial guidance, pensions and governance issues, co-operative structures and Community Interest Company (CIC) models.
Fun practical sessions also featured, including a lively cooking workshop which was designed to get delegates using up those odds and ends in the fridge instead of throwing them away. An interactive session on British Sign Language (BSL) and an innovative look at the links between music and Scottish textiles, gave delegates plenty to think about.
Delegates also had the opportunity to purchase a range of Scottish goods and produce from social enterprises, including Hebridean Chocolates of Stornoway, which this month scooped the title of Scotland’s Social Enterprise Start-up of the Year.
Set up by Voluntary Action Lewis with the aim of making it a sustainable business, Hebridean Chocolates is a social enterprise designed to provide training, placement and employment opportunities for local people.
The chocolate factory provides products of high quality for the local, tourist and worldwide island markets – and was undoubtedly a welcome addition to S2S.
Hebridean Chocolates was joined by two other Social Enterprise Award winners, GREAN (Social Enterprise of the Year), who provided recycling services for the fair, and Impart Arts (Social Enterprise Leader of the Year), which featured in ‘The Zone’ demonstration area.
Antonia Swinson, chief executive of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition said: “This event gets bigger and better every year and we’re thrilled that the S2S Fair is such a success going into its 6th year. Despite tough trading conditions, the social enterprise movement continues to flourish in Scotland, and represents a real choice for entrepreneurs and consumers. People now look for real worth in their purchases and the exciting response to this year’s fair reflects the impressive growth of the sector.”
The S2S Fair is supported by the Scottish Government, with sponsorship from the Royal Bank of Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Scottish Enterprise and The City of Edinburgh Council, Kibble Works, North Glasgow Housing Association, Wise Group, MacRoberts, The Cooperative Bank, Brodies and Forth Sector.