Scottish Enterprise Network activity with social enterprise during 2006/07

Scottish Enterprise Network activity with social enterprise during 2006/07

Briefing note
prepared by Scottish Enterprise for Senscot
July 2007

1.0) Purpose of briefing note
The purpose of this note is to provide Senscot with information on the activity of Scottish Enterprise with social enterprises during the year to March 2007.

2.0) Context with the Social Enterprise Strategy
In 2005, the Scottish Parliament asked that a differentiated strategy for social enterprise be developed and the strategy was subsequently launched in March 2007. Scottish Enterprise, in conjunction with their sponsor department, Enterprise, Lifelong Learning and Transport, directly contributed to the content of the strategy and Scottish Enterprise is committed to delivering elements of the strategy, particularly regarding business start ups and business support.

The Strategy provided a summary of the current support provided by Scottish Enterprise for social enterprises as well as how the support will be provided under the new Business Gateway contract due to come into operation in the autumn of 2007. The level and type of support to which SEN is committing to under the new contract, will require activity levels commensurate with the number of social enterprise in each LEC area.

Historically there is little evidence that social enterprise with growth potential will be referred to the Network by third parties. Consequently, it will be essential for Business Gateway to actively seek and engage with the sector to identify organisations with pipeline potential. This will enable the identification of social enterprises with the growth potential for one to one support.

As part of the transition training for the new Business Gateway contractors there will be a discrete session on engagement with and business development support for social enterprises. 

In January 2007, the Board of Scottish Enterprise approved a paper on the role of Scottish Enterprise in the delivery of the Closing the Opportunity Gap policy. The paper affirmed, among a number of things, that the Network will actively provide business support services via Business Gateway for growing social enterprises.

3.0) Remit of Scottish Enterprise with social enterprises
The remit of Scottish Enterprise with social enterprises is affirmed as the building of capacity and sustainable employment. Capacity in these terms is defined as increasing the proportion of earned income and a reduction in dependence on grant income. This compliments the mainstream Scottish Enterprise business development remit of economic growth.

4.0) Scottish Enterprise engagement with Social Enterprises
The 3 activity measures that reflect engagement with the social enterprise sector will be the number of social enterprises completing Health Checks or Business Development Reviews, the number of Business Mentors matched with social enterprises and the number of social enterprises assisted to start trading.

4.1) Health Checks and Business Development Reviews with Social Enterprises
Overall engagement in 2006/7 was in line with previous years with Business Health Checks and Business Development reviews completed with 148 social enterprises. The activity was spread across all the LEC’s with Glasgow, and Lanarkshire performing particularly strongly.

The outcome of the Business Development Review and Health Check process is an action plan aimed at identifying the business issues that will improve the business performance of the organisation. The issues most often identified relate to Business Strategy, Business Planning, Marketing and Funding. Guidance is provided on where the organisation might access help to address the issues identified including further assistance from Business Gateway.

4.2) Business mentoring for social enterprises
2006/7 was the first full year of providing business mentors for social enterprises with some 50 social enterprises being matched with mentors. The mentors are all volunteers and drawn from a pool of some 400 mentors registered with the Scottish Chamber of Commerce who run the mentoring schemed on behalf of Scottish Enterprise. The programme was very well received by the client organisations and by the sector as a whole. The target for the first 6 months of 2007/8 is 30 matches.

4.3) Business Gateway Support for Social Enterprises Starts
Business Gateway assists nearly over 9000 business to start to trade each year through a combination of generic one to many events including seminars and workshops, and one to one support for high growth starts. As part of generic start up activity, during 2006/7, Business Gateway assisted a total of 18 social enterprises to start trading.

5.0) Business Gateway Web site
In May 2007 Business Gateway re-launched the website using the DTI site as the base platform. The site contains over 10,000 pages of content covering business information, interactive tools and directories to help start and grow businesses.
The site is a significant improvement and is an important element in Scottish Enterprise’s strategy to provide every business, including social enterprises, with the opportunity to access, via a single entry point, on-line high quality and up to date business information.

6.0) Contact Details
For more detail on Scottish Enterprise and social enterprises please contact Alistair Thornley,