Ambitions programme leads to grant funding for seven social enterprises
Seven social enterprises that took part in Social Investment Scotland’s (SIS) Ambitions leadership programme have been awarded a share of £35,000 grant funding to support continued growth and drive greater impact.
Four Square, operators of the Edinburgh Furniture Initiative that works to prevent homelessness; The Turing Trust, which supports education in sub-Saharan Africa and the UK by reusing computers and improving teacher training using ICT; and The Community Gift Exchange, a charity that develops accredited reuse training programmes, will each receive £5,000 thanks to support from Baillie Gifford.
Also receiving grants are Brave Strong Beautiful, the only hair and beauty Community Interest Company (CIC) in Scotland; Stitch the Gap, a CIC delivering sewing machine skills; the Palacerigg Community Trust, which provides vital services in the local community; and Eat Sleep Ride CIC, a social enterprise providing therapeutic equine and countryside interactions for children and young people.
Ambitions 2021: Supporting Leaders, Building Growth provided tailored support for both early-stage companies and established brands with mission-driven goals, to help accelerate growth and development. Participants heard from a range of experts and joined masterclasses covering topics such as growing social impact, strategic planning and how to develop a leadership mindset.
As part of the programme, participants were invited to apply for grant funding that would help them to achieve impact goals and utilise the new skills gained throughout the programme.
Jane Devine, Chief Executive of Four Square, an organisation awarded a grant, said: “Having the opportunity to learn from experts and the support from my peers through the Ambitions programme has really helped me as a leader and in our development as a mission-driven business. Our social enterprise continues to go from strength to strength and we are particularly grateful for the funding which will allow us to support more people who have experienced homelessness into their own homes and establish a life in their community.”
“At the Edinburgh Furniture Initiative we are regularly offered donations of mattresses, around 30 a week, but we are unable to collect them all due to marks or stains. As a result, many end up in landfill sites. This grant has enabled us to buy a mattress cleaning machine, so we can increase our intake of mattresses, the volume of mattresses we sell in our shop and the amount we can sell them for. The money we generate will allow us to train and employ someone to clean all our upholstered furniture. It’s been a great way of increasing our impact whilst scaling up our operations.”
The Ambitions programme is designed to support leaders and their businesses to take advantage of the rising demand for mission-driven brands by enhancing their leadership skills to grow their enterprises. Studies have shown that consumers are more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong purpose.
Kieran Daly, Head of Market Building said: “The Ambitions programme is designed to give social enterprises the opportunity to learn, grow, build networks and develop leadership skills, as well as opening doors to additional avenues such as this funding opportunity. The demand is growing for goods and services that deliver a wider impact and mission-driven businesses and social enterprises have the power to become a fundamental driver of economic growth over the coming years – particularly as we emerge from the pandemic and adjust to new ways or of working, with renewed focus on what truly matters to each of us.
“By offering expert learning, peer to peer support and coaching alongside access to finance, we can support social enterprise leaders to grow and increase the positive impact of their activities.”
 The “Strength of Purpose” study by New York-based Zeno Group of 8,000 global consumers and 75 companies and brands found that consumers are four to six times more likely to buy from, trust, champion, and defend companies with a strong purpose.