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Scotland’s Role in the Global Social Enterprise Movement [SEWF]

Map in SIS Colours

You might be aware that the Social Enterprise World Forum, or SEWF, had its inaugural event in Edinburgh in 2008. Last year saw SEWF return to Scotland, bringing together social enterprise practitioners, support agencies and investors, as well as public, private and government representatives. This October, the forum is taking place in Ethiopia, and we’re reminiscing on our thoughts from last year.

The Forum looks to create ‘a global social enterprise movement’ and we, at SIS, believe that Scotland has a big part to play in continuing to drive this forward.

Last year, hosting SEWF allowed Scotland to champion social enterprise on a global scale. It allowed us to showcase Scotland’s, in our opinion, leading approach to a more sustainable, fair and flourishing economy. This year, it was reported that there are 6,025 social enterprises operating in Scotland and that there was £3.1bn earned income generated from trading activity. In addition, the average age of a social enterprise in Scotland was 21 years old, which indicates to us that Scotland cultivates an environment where socially-conscious businesses are encouraged and supported to set up, grow and become sustainable.

In line with SEWF’s value of ‘equality of opportunity’, it was also reported that 65% of Scotland’s social enterprises were led by women, in comparison to a lesser 19% of women in senior business roles in business in the UK. From our experience, Scotland’s social sector is progressive, dynamic and open to change; showing a willingness to breakthrough traditional barriers faced by the third sector. With around 400 social enterprises having been formed between 2017 and 2019, there is certainly an in increasing number of businesses starting who seek to address social needs and strengthen communities.

Take our customer, Know You More, for instance. Know You More is a learning and development platform that delivers virtual coaching to accelerate organisations’ young workforces. For every coaching session that they deliver, Know You More gift the same level of coaching for young people engaged with their charity partners.

Tim Mart & Students of GCU

This ambitious social enterprise showcases that digital (a less traditional approach for the third sector) can open doors to sustainability through greater revenue. However, more importantly, it shows how digital can remove geography from the equation, allowing impact in a more flexible way and at a global scale. This demonstrates that enterprises can unlock sustainable social impact through a tailored, forward-thinking business model. You can check out Know You More’s full case study here.

While we say that Scotland has one of the ‘leading’ approaches to social enterprise, it’s important to note that there is still a long way to go. There are social issues yet to be tackled and much of society is still unaware that there are more responsible options for day-to-day products and services. Events, such as SEWF, and the proactive and determined activities undertaken by social entrepreneurs and their teams, will support Scotland in working towards a more responsible society.

If you’re attending the SEWF this year, be sure to share your thoughts! Don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss how SIS might be able to support your organisation.