Fresh ideas to grow social enterprise in Scotland
Duncan Thorp explains why 2016 is the perfect time to support and promote social enterprise in Scotland
2016 is an election year for Scotland and a unique opportunity to make the social enterprise voice heard loud and clear.
Increasing public and media awareness, comprehensive statistics for the very first time, a national vision and strategy, a supportive national policy environment and the gradual opening up of public services to social enterprise innovation, means a perfect storm of opportunity.
Social enterprises seek to change the world for the better. Whether that’s in social housing, providing jobs for ex-offenders, working in ethical finance, running inclusive sports centres or a range of other areas. But we also need realistic expectations and appropriate support. We’re just one part of the solution to building a better, more equal society and a more resilient and sustainable economy.
It’s important to remember that all the work we do in social enterprise is about improving lives in every corner of Scotland
We believe in partnership and shared values and we can demonstrate to others a better way to do business. We seek to build bridges outwards to our friends in the private sector, particularly to ethical and green businesses, aspiring social enterprises and local SMEs, as well as to our many partners in the public sector.
Scotland has a constructive and positive national policy environment for social enterprise development and we genuinely appreciate the cross-party political support for social enterprises.
As the national membership body for social enterprises, Social Enterprise Scotland exists to promote and raise the profile of Scottish social enterprises and the social enterprise way of doing business. We campaign on behalf of all types of social enterprise, ask them what they want and need and seek to change national and local government policy as a result.
Influencing the 2016 Scottish Parliament election candidates with our new election manifesto For the Good of Everyone is the starting point, as we seek to change and improve the policies of the Scottish Government and parliament and public bodies over the next few years.
The manifesto has a number of broad themes. The first is building mass public awareness, which is about promoting social enterprise across Scotland, which is essential to boost the numbers of social enterprises and create more ethical options for consumers.
The transforming public services theme is about social enterprises offering positive solutions to better, more inclusive and more responsive person-centred public services.
In addition we have a theme of driving business support forward to ensure that all types of business support includes specific and effective social enterprise knowledge and expertise.
Boosting social investment and funding is crucial to social enterprise growth. Building social investment and innovative finance models, plus protecting and opening up funding, is a key ask.
We also believe that the best solutions are made locally. The local solutions as standard theme is about empowering local people, community groups and local social enterprises across Scotland at every opportunity, devolving power downwards to benefit every neighbourhood.
It’s important to remember that all the work we do in social enterprise, including the 2016 manifesto, is about improving lives in every corner of Scotland, empowering communities and building a better economy that includes everyone.
2016 is the time for social enterprises of every kind and in every part of urban and rural Scotland. Please do share the social enterprise manifesto in meetings with private and public sector contacts, post it on social media and send to your friends, family and colleagues. By working together to grow social enterprise we’ll make a real difference.
Duncan Thorp is the policy and communications officer at Social Enterprise Scotland