What support is available for Social Enterprises nationally?
The social enterprise sector in Scotland is a rich and varied landscape, so it’s often hard to know where to look to find the appropriate support, or even who does what. That’s why Community Enterprise teamed up with social enterprise creative agency BOLD to produce the Social Enterprise Ecosystem, a comprehensive map of support, funding, information, mentoring and networking.
The Ecosystem is colour-coded for ease of navigation and has five distinct categories: Development, Finance, Learning, Networking, and Policy & Info.
The main source of support is through the Just Enterprise contract which is delivered by a consortium of national social enterprise support organisations. Just Enterprise has just had their Scottish Government contract renewed until July 2022 to provide one to one support, training courses and procurement advice. The support offered is free to the user and has no limit, the user can keep coming back for support which is a change from their original contract. The new programme of support will be officially launched in August 2019 but will delivered under four sections:
Strengthening your organisation
Growing your organisation
The Social Enterprise Academy provides business related courses as well as leadership training and works in schools, colleges and universities.
Many of these organisations are membership organisations: Senscot are the national support body for local SENs; Social Enterprise Scotland is a membership organisation that leads on political and lobbying for the sector; Social Firms Scotland supports enterprises that provide supported work places for those at disadvantage in the workplace; and SENs work in their local area through a peer network and as a source of signposting for social enterprises.
Many of the other providers of support are delivering contracts that offer a mix of advice and other services. All of these providers are social enterprises in their own right.
The First Year Action Plan Report 2018-2019 can be found at Appendix 4 which also incorporates the Angus - Local Social Enterprise Business Support Route.
This strategy is intended to provide a focus to enable local and national support to be available to aspiring and existing SEs.
Support Delivered to Social Enterprises Locally in 2016/17
Voluntary Action Angus (VAA) delivers the Third Sector Interface service in Angus, a national contract from the Scottish Government. Its core functions include a fundamental role in Social Enterprise development and inspiring entrepreneurship. VAA has premises in Forfar and have a dedicated Social Enterprise Officer who took up post in May 2019. The Common Services and the ones that relate to social enterprise are shown below, with the achievements in 2016/17:
TSI common services
Support provided in 2016 - 2017
Provide information for local
organisations to access contract and
Care About Angus (CAA) - example
of an augmented SE. Proposed
expansion of this project through Tay
Cities Deal has the potential to
Give help to set up appropriate structures
for social enterprise.
27 organisations supported to explore
setting up, developing or maintaining
Signpost appropriately to advice and
financing support both locally and
12 agency referrals made.
Provide networking opportunities to
deliver, influence and learn.
Ongoing examples “Let’s Get Noisy”
Conference and “Bringing it
Altogether” dialogue events
Understand local needs around business
development and provide or refer
organisations to appropriate learning
SQA learning opportunities within
CAA - 500 volunteering hours
Communicate what social enterprise is
and promote its value.
Promote enterprising activity and
encourage third sector organisations to
be more enterprising.
4 x “What is Social Enterprise”
information sessions facilitated
Network and work in partnership with the
private sector to create value and
understanding and to increase trading
between enterprising third sector
organisations, third sector organisations
and the private sector.
Ongoing discussions with Leader and
Support increased use of social
enterprises by the public sector / public.
CAA a prime example as public
sector previously provided this
Direct support is also provided through the Just Enterprise contract (as outlined above) and in 2016/17 covered Business Support, Start Up, Leadership Courses and Business Skills Workshops. The reported figures show that Workshops (1/2 of recipients) and Start Up support (1/4 of recipients) were the most popular but it is not clear if recipients travelled or this was offered in the Angus Council area. It would appear that at least 20 recipients came from Angus, however unfortunately the postcode data is not detailed enough to clarify how many of the remaining 46 recipients were from Dundee rather than Angus.
In addition to the support from VAA and Just Enterprise, a range of support is offered to social enterprises from Business Gateway, Dundee and Angus College, lawyers and independent support agencies. There are no figures for the level of support offered.
Angus Business Connections (ABC) is LEADER funded and is a 2 year partnership between Dundee SEN and Community First UK and will offer the rural community direct and local peer support, business skills support, training and mentoring focussed on both social enterprises and micro/small enterprises.