Scottish social enterprises to lead the world

Scottish social enterprises to lead the world
Third Force News, by Susan Smith


A new Scottish Government plan aims to boost Scotland’s leading social enterprise movement around the world.


Scotland is preparing a bid to host the Social Enterprise World Forum in September 2018 to help establish the country as a world-leader in the development of social businesses.


The move is part of a series of measures aimed at boosting the role of social enterprise in Scotland’s economy and helping social enterprises sell their goods and services internationally.


The Scottish Government’s first every international strategy for social enterprise also includes undertaking a feasibility study into the case for an international social enterprise research observatory in Scotland.


Scottish ministers have also committed to promote Scotland’s social enterprise policies abroad and include social enterprise in future strategies relating to economic development, trade and investment, and international development.


Recent statistics show there are more than 5,100 social enterprises in Scotland, with seven per cet collaborating internationally, and five per cent exporting their goods and services worldwide.


Cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities Angela Constance unveiled the strategy in front of an audience of representatives from South Korea, Thailand, Australia and Canada at the Social Enterprise Policy and Practice Conference.


She said: “Scotland is already recognised as a world leader in its approach to social enterprises, with the sector creating jobs, offering training and services and contributing an incredible £1.68 billion to Scotland’s economy.


“This is an important chance to show off Scotland’s credentials as traders, find ways of attracting inward investment, and share expertise with markets at home and abroad.


“Social enterprises help to tackle inequalities and transform local communities, with a number of entrepreneurs already taking advantage of the opportunities of selling abroad. This new international strategy will help the sector build on these successes by encouraging our social enterprises to think globally and help them sell internationally.


“The strategy will boost Scotland’s reputation as an influential country that is leading the way in its approach to social enterprises and will show other countries how much we have to offer.”


The strategy recognises that the social enterprise model of business, where all profits are put back into a common good, is helping to tackle inequalities while increasing economic competitiveness.


As well as promoting Scotland as a world leader in social enterprise expertise, research and innovation, the strategy aims to help social enterprises unlock new markets and boost their sales internationally.


Just Enterprise, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise, and Highlands and Islands Enterprise have all committed to refer social enterprises to sources of specialist export advice, enabling social enterprises to access global funding opportunities and specialist business support.


Scotland hosted the world’s first Social Enterprise World Forum in 2008 and hopes to cement its global position by having the forum return for its 10th anniversary in 2018.


Gerry Higgins, chief executive of Community Enterprise in Scotland said: "An increasing number of Scottish social enterprises are trading internationally, and this strategy will boost overseas trading even further.


“Ventures like the Homeless World Cup and the overseas hubs of the Social Enterprise Academy bring the tradition of Scottish innovation into the global social enterprise movement.


“We are also seeing rural social enterprises, like Shetland Soap Company and Knockandoo Wool Mill, develop e-commerce platforms with support from SDI to further increase sales to Scottish diaspora and other international customers."


A number of Scottish social enterprises are already operating internationally, including Shetland Soap Company, which has received support from Scottish Development International leading to a sales rise throughout the UK and Europe. The Social Enterprise Academy delivers learning and development programmes which have now reached learners in over 30 countries and has hubs developing in 10 locations around the world, while the Grassmarket Community Project sells tartan textiles and handmade products online to places as far afield as California and Shanghai. 

 See full Strategy here