S2S Speech

S2S Speech
Jim Mather


Good morning everyone.  I’m very pleased to be with you in Dundee to open the 3rd S2S Social Enterprise Trade Fair. Today, is an event that has a successful track record of acting as a catalyst for social enterprise trading activity.


As I see so many social enterprises gathered together in one place, I know that we have the critical mix that will result in network and trade that will produce another successful S2S.


I’d like to thank Antonia Swinson, Chief Executive of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition for inviting me here today.


The Scottish Government has set an objective of matching the UK growth rate by 2011.  This is an important step in building a stronger economy that will help unlock Scotland’s full potential.


The Scottish Government’s economic strategy sets out our approach to achieving this. The Government’s Purpose is to create a more successful country with opportunities for all in Scotland to flourish through increasing sustainable economic growth – which is the cornerstone of a wealthier and fairer nation.


There is a role for social enterprise in helping the Scottish Government meet its purpose:


Firstly, reaching those who are traditionally furthest from employment, social enterprises often deliver services that are irreplaceable, working with marginalised groups where commercial business wouldn’t go. 

o     Secondly, geographic reach, social enterprises can be found all over Scotland, especially in more remote areas.  We recognise that rural social enterprises are a particular feature in Scotland delivering important services in remote communities, with 35% of Scottish social enterprises being rural based.

Thirdly, social enterprises tend to place environmental sustainability alongside economic growth.  They therefore have a vital role to play in contributing to sustainable growth in Scotland.


In order to ensure that social enterprises are able to play a role in achieving our purpose, we are investing record amounts of money in the sector over the next three years.  We have already announced funding for many parts of the third sectors infrastructure.  This includes a three year funding package for the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition with whom the Scottish Government will develop a strategic partnership.


We will also provide significant funds for the Scottish Social Enterprise Academy to provide training of the highest quality in business planning and leadership.  The latter is extremely important as we need to nurture our next generation of leaders in the sector.


We are also funding:


First Port, we will work with them as a delivery partner to promote the social enterprise business model and identify potential social entrepreneurs.  It is the first port of call for emerging social entrepreneurs in Scotland, and provides an excellent source of advice and business tools.      


The Council for Ethnic minority Voluntary Sector Organisations to provide bespoke support to those ethnic minority lead third sector organisations that can most benefit from the social enterprise model to identify sustainable income generating ideas.


Aspire to Enterprise – This is a new programme providing a range of business support services to ambitious, developing social enterprises in Lowland Scotland.  The programme is targeted at organisations with the drive and potential to increase their current trading. 


Through our investment in Aspire to Enterprise and in a similar service in the Highlands & Islands, initially through HISEZ, we want to ensure that the right support is in place to enable social enterprises and especially enterprising third sector organisations to reach their potential.  We will create the environment in which these organisations can thrive.


Details on this are currently being worked on, but there will be significant investment in individual enterprises through the £30m Scottish Social Investment Fund.  As well as investing in those organisations that can demonstrate that they can grow in a sustainable manner, we will also ensure that we are creating the right conditions in which the third sector as a whole can thrive.


Events like this really are important.  We want to see social enterprise operating in a business-like way, generating sustainable income through trading and at the same time delivering excellent services and the S2S Trade Fair presents a showcase of the services that social enterprise can provide.


What I see here is a real spirit of entrepreneurship which forms the heart of economic activity. The concept of churn – the process by which new innovative firms replace older less productive enterprises is recognised as a key component of successful wealth creation in modern economies.


Academic studies have shown that 30% to 50% of productivity growth in the UK and US can be ascribed to business churn.


Entrepreneurship is therefore crucially important in the area of business creation and productivity growth.  But it is not of course limited to new companies.  Entrepreneurship – and the qualities which underpin entrepreneurship – are equally relevant to the successful operation of established businesses – of all sizes.


The fundamental traits of the entrepreneur are also a key feature of the social economy – with entrepreneurial drive being equally critical in the development and success of the social enterprises on which many of our communities depend.


This is perhaps easier to recognise when we look at entrepreneurship in terms of the attributes of the entrepreneur. 


These include drive and determination – a will to succeed:  imagination and creativity; self confidence and a willingness to accept risk.  But perhaps just as important is the absence of another attribute – fear of failure.


GEM reports highlight eradicating the ‘new business failure rate myth’ (the perception amongst members of the public that businesses are more likely to fail than official data suggest) which exists in Scotland as a method to increase entrepreneurship.


These attributes highlight the importance of entrepreneurial behaviour to small firms and large firms, to employers and to employees and to society as a whole.  Of course they contribute to the wealth of our society, but they are also inherently linked – through the creation of opportunity – to the happiness and well being of the individual.


There is an interest in entrepreneurship in Scotland.  The Household survey of Entrepreneurship reports that entrepreneurial attitudes in Scotland are as positive as in the rest of the UK, and that there have been slight increases in the proportions of the working age population in Scotland who are running their own business or who are thinking of starting one.


Entrepreneurship is a key element of the Scottish government’s economic strategy.  The provision of good quality support and assistance will remain crucial to that work – but in the longer term, real improvements in our cultural approach to entrepreneurship and enterprise will provide the greatest and most long lasting benefits.  The Scottish Government is therefore committed to that process.


This Government wants to mobilise the abilities of everyone in Scotland to help us do this. 


The third sector and social enterprises will play a major part in that delivery, creating and sustaining jobs, starting businesses, often in areas of deprivation and putting economic development hand in hand with environmental sustainability.


Social Enterprise


We therefore see a key role for an enterprising third sector in helping us meet our purpose of a more successful Scotland, but also in meeting our strategic objectives of a wealthier and fairer, healthier, safer and stronger, smarter and greener Scotland.


That is why John Swinney, Cabinet Secretary for Finance and Sustainable Growth, announced a £93m programme for the third sector in the Spending Review announcement in November. 


I therefore have an interest in helping to develop social enterprises as businesses so that they can realise their potential as deliverers of key services as well as economic drivers, generating income and providing jobs and regeneration.


There are many areas where social enterprises are established providers of services.  In these areas the sector is at its best when it is allowed to be responsive and innovative.


The Scottish Government is committed to building a strong third sector in Scotland.  We want to make sure that the third sector has a place in the way we move forward with our policy agenda.  The First Minister recognized that responsibility for the third sector and social enterprise had to be moved from the periphery to the centre of government and to be an integral part of the way forward.   We want to make sure that the third sector in Scotland has a place in the way we move forward with our policy agenda. 


Concluding Remarks


A lot has happened in the last year.  By putting the third sector and social enterprise at the centre of government we are creating new opportunities, not least through our £30 million investment fund.  With these opportunities will come challenges, to show that enterprise can deliver more for people across Scotland.


I hope that we can go forward together, so that we can make Scotland a country where enterprise and entrepreneurship thrives. 


The S2S Trade Fair provides evidence of what an innovative, entrepreneurial and socially aware sector we have.  But importantly today shows that social aims and business profit are not mutually exclusive, they can be successful partners.


With such a gathering of innovative, entrepreneurial and socially aware people, I’m sure that goal is within our grasp. 


I am confident that as a result of today much business is done, after all this is the third S2S trade fair and a testament to the success of the formula.  Crucially, I also hope that helps organisations to generate more business. 


Because with more businesses, we’ll gain even more social and environmental benefits.


I’d like to conclude by once again thanking Antonia and the other members of the coalition for inviting me today.


I wish all of you present every success with your business ventures, today and into the future. Thank you.