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Your Complete Guide to Social Enterprise in Scotland

Full, one-stop information and support for everything social enterprise in Scotland - Social Enterprise Scotland exists to help you access and understand social enterprise - contact us today!


Discover social enterprise: See our definition page for full information. View latest live news direct from over 650 Scottish social enterprises. View the social enterprises that are Members of Social Enterprise Scotland. To find out more sign up now for the free, monthly Social Enterprise Update. Join our Linkedin social enterprise forum Scotland's Social Enterprise Community to discuss any and all issues related to social enterprise in Scotland. Read Scotland's Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026 and also the first action plan from the strategy.

Practical business support:
Access Just Enterprise - Scotland’s free, specialist business support, development and learning service for social enterprise. It includes starting up a social enterprise, funding, training and procurement. Just Enterprise is a consortium of 10 specialist sector organisations, with a wealth of experience in launching and developing social enterprises across Scotland. Also view the latest live news direct from specialist business support and development organisations. Your local Business Gateway can offer all general business support (plus specialist support in some local areas). Find your local Social Enterprise Network (SEN) and local Third Sector Interface (TSI) for support too. (The JE consortium is: CEIS, HISEZ, Firstport, Social Enterprise Academy, Forth Sector Development, Community Enterprise Ltd, CEMVO Scotland, Lanarkshire Enterprise Services Ltd, Ready for Business & Inspiralba).


Social enterprise shopping: See The Big Issue Shop, the Common Market shop and the Social Enterprise Shopping guide for Scotland to buy social enterprise products and gifts. There are many online retailers selling general ethical goods such as the Ethical Superstore and The Ethical Shop. Ethical Consumer magazine also has a guide to help with greener and more sustainable shopping.

Research and statistics:
Scotland has a large and diverse number of social enterprises in every urban and rural community and in most parts of the economy. The latest statistics put the number at 5600, with around 300 new social enterprises formed each year. They collectively provide over 81,000 full time equivalent jobs, with £3.8bn in combined traded income, net collective assets of £5bn and a Gross Value Added (GVA) figure of approx. £2bn. See the full results of Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2017. There are also a number of local social enterprise directories (some related to SENs and with a variety of methods of gathering data), see your local Social Enterprise Network (SEN) website.


Social Investment & Funding: View our live newsfeed of news direct from social investors. See Funding Scotland - all grants and funding information in one place. Access The Scottish Government Community Funds Gateway - grants for community groups in one place. See The Big Lottery funding information. Social Investment Scotland (SIS) is a registered Charity, CDFI and social enterprise which provides business loans to Third Sector organisations. Other sources of social investment are available from e.g. banks, other Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs), local authorities and funding bodies. Also see Community Shares Scotland - an innovative new way to fund community enterprises. Contact us for more information.

Jobs, careers and volunteering in social enterprise
: Access our SEJobs page for the latest job, board and volunteer vacancies in social enterprises. Social enterprise and start-up Members of Social Enterprise Scotland can place job adverts, volunteer or board vacancies for free. Also see The Big Issue Jobs site (TBI Jobs) and for third and voluntary sector jobs, Good Moves. Are you a social enterprise employer? See EVH - supporting social employers. Volunteer Scotland for volunteering opportunities (or look up your local volunteer centre). See Community Jobs Scotland - creating jobs in Scotland’s third sector for unemployed young people, the Disabled Equality Internship Programme and Adopt an Intern.

Advocacy support for your social enterprise
: Social enterprise and start up members can use the collective influence of Social Enterprise Scotland for advocacy support. We're here for you, to intervene and represent you whenever we can to local authorities, businesses and government - and get action taken on the issues that matter to you. Join as a SES member today and use the full collective power of social enterprise. View the latest sector strategies and related information.

Legal support for social enterprises: For affordable legal advice for social enterprises, such as setting up a particular legal model for a social enterprise, go to Senscot Legal.

Marketing, media, promotion and PR:
Sign up now for the free, monthly Social Enterprise Update email. Join Social Enterprise Scotland to get free marketing and media advice and to promote your social enterprise to a big and growing audience. Read all the latest live news direct from over 650 Scottish social enterprises - get in contact to be added to the live newsfeed. Connect with SES on Twitter and Facebook and read our media articles, Social Enterprise Spotlights, Morethanprofitman independent blog and news releases. Take a look at social enterprises in action on our Social Enterprise Scotland TV channel - members can email us to upload and promote your own short films. Social Enterprise Scotland organises the Social Enterprise Communications Group (SECG) and regularly writes articles for a variety of media outlets. See The Guardian - Sustainable Business, Third Force News (TFN) and Pioneers Post for specific social enterprise news stories.

Social Enterprise Networks (SENs) and networking forums:
Social enterprises can join a local and/or themed Social Enterprise Network (SEN). SENs are organised by Senscot. Local SENs operate in many parts of Scotland for social enterprises to network, trade with each other, learn and grow, with national intratrading opportunities. The themed SENs are: Community Food, Culture, Employability, Health and Sport. Access information about local and themed SENs. Find your local Third Sector Interface (TSI), single local forums of support for voluntary groups, charities and social enterprises. Join the Social Enterprise Scotland Linkedin online debating/information forum Scotland's Social Enterprise Community to discuss any and all issues related to social enterprise in Scotland.

Campaigning and Public Policy:
Social Enterprise Scotland is the national organisation for policy and campaigning on social enterprise. Read all the latest sector policy documents. Get in contact with us to find out how to engage with the policy process and get your voice heard. The Cross-Party Group (CPG) on Social Enterprise in The Scottish Parliament is Scotland’s national policy forum for social enterprise. The group is free to attend, open to anyone involved with or actively interested in social enterprise and is member-led. Each meeting is themed around a current topic voted for by members e.g. ‘business support for social enterprise’. There is an open debate, a keynote speaker and a report is produced after each meeting. Please do ask questions or make suggestions regarding the group and we look forward to seeing you there. See details of the group and agendas/reports of past meetings. To join the mailing list for the CPG please email us. See useful weblinks below for government and related policy organisations specific to social enterprise.


Education & training and social enterprise: See the Social Enterprise Academy, Scotland's Enterprising Schools, Yunus Centre for Social Business and Health (Glasgow Caledonian University), Interface (The "knowledge connection" between business and academia), Scottish Institute for Enterprise (Developing student entrepreneurship and social enterprise), Young Enterprise Scotland (Supporting those aged 5-25), The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship (University of Strathclyde), the Centre for Entrepreneurship (Robert Gordon University Aberdeen) and The Business School (Edinburgh Napier University).


Measuring your impact: Evaluation Support Scotland (ESS) works with third sector organisations and funders so that they can measure and report on their impact. There are many ways to measure your social impact, The Social Audit Network (SAN) facilitates the exchange of information and experience between practitioners of social accounting and audit. For the Social Return on Investment (SROI) method see Social Value UK (previously the SROI Network).


Social enterprise venues: Get in contact with us if you want suggestions for local social enterprise venues for hire.

Asset transfer
: For help taking over land or building assets for community benefit go to The Community Ownership Support Service (COSS). This service also helps local authorities and others with advice on transferring assets to community groups.


Support for co-operatives: For Co-operative business support and development you can access Co-operative Development Scotland (a public agency that is part of Scottish Enterprise). Also get information from Co-operatives UK.

The Social Enterprise Voluntary Code of Practice:
Scotland’s social enterprise community has produced a voluntary code or practice, highlighting a shared set of values/behaviours and describing the landscape that our organisations operate within. As definitions of social enterprise becomes increasingly challenged, ‘The Code’ provides the basis for a self-regulatory community of mutual understanding. Social Enterprise Scotland supports The Code in nurturing a distinctive social enterprise community and we encourage all Scottish social enterprises to register here. Anyone else can sign up as a supporter of The Code.

Other business support
: The Scottish Business Portal brings together all business support for the private sector and is also open to social enterprises. Resources are available via the Portal from The Scottish Government, Business Gateway, Scottish Enterprise / Scottish Development International, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (they also have a specific "Strengthening Communities" remit for social enterprise), Skills Development Scotland and GOV.UK.

Useful weblinks


Social Enterprise Organisations

Social Enterprise Scotland (The national membership, support, policy and campaigning body for all social enterprises in Scotland)

Social Firms Scotland (support body for the development & promotion of Social Firms - businesses that provide integrated employment for people with disabilities or other disadvantages)

Senscot (for local and themed Social Enterprise Networks - SENs)

Development Trusts Association Scotland (local community-led regeneration organisations)

School for Social Entrepreneurs (Scotland) (supporting social entrepreneurs with personal and organisational development)

personal and organisational development
personal and organisational development

Social Enterprise UK (equivalent to Social Enterprise Scotland, covers England only)

Co-operatives UK (to promote, develop and unite co-operatives)

Community Interest Companies Association (connecting the CIC community)

CIC Regulator (UK regulator for all CICs)

Association of British Credit Unions Ltd (ABCUL Scotland - trade association for credit unions)

Scottish League of Credit Unions (supporting small to medium sized Credit Unions)

Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (To lead, represent and support Scotland's housing associations & co-operatives)


Third Sector Organisations

Voluntary Action Scotland (VAS) (for local Third Sector Interfaces - TSIs)

Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator (OSCR)

Third Sector Internships Scotland

Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO)

Third Sector Employability Forum (TSEF)


Scottish Think Tanks and Research Institutes

Social Value Lab

Social Innovation Scotland

Reform Scotland

The Jimmy Reid Foundation

The Scotland Institute

Fraser of Allander Institute

Centre for Scottish Public Policy

Scottish Fabians

The Deming Learning Network

A Learning Society in Scotland

David Hume Institute

Centre for Public Policy for the Regions

Policy Forum Scotland


General business organisations

Scottish Family Business Association

Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) Scotland

Entrepreneurial Spark

Scottish Business in the Community

Scottish Chambers of Commerce

The Entrepreneurial Exchange

FSB in Scotland


Government, Parliament, Councils & Social Enterprise

The Scottish Government Third Sector Division (responsible for social enterprise)

National Economic Forum (A Scottish Government forum)

Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee (the committee in The Scottish Parliament responsible for social enterprise)

The Scottish Parliament and Business Exchange (SPBE) (an independent and registered educational charity)

The annual Business in the Parliament event

Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA)

SELAG (Social Enterprise Local Authorities Group) (Please contact Social Enterprise Scotland for details)

SLAED (Scottish Local Authorities Economic Development Group)

SOPO (The Society of Procurement Officers in Local Government)

CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy)

UK Government

UK Parliament

Office of National Statistics

Eurostat (European statistics)


Media, Blogs and Books on Social Enterprise

The Social Enterprise Weekly (Social Enterprise Scotland magazine exclusively for members. We also have regular columns in The Scotsman, The Big Issue).

The Guardian - Sustainable Business (A free online network of news and debate)

Pioneers Post (Formerly Social Enterprise Magazine)

Morethanprofitman Blog (Social Enterprise Scotland)

Business Insider Magazine

Holyrood Magazine

The Economist

The New Road by Alf Young

Social Enterprise in Anytown by John Pierce

The Social Entrepreneur by Andrew Mawson


Scottish Political Parties

Scottish National Party

Scottish Labour Party

Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party

Scottish Liberal Democrats

Scottish Green Party

Scottish Socialist Party


UK Think Tanks


Institute for Public Policy Research

New Policy Institute

New Economics Foundation

Centre for Economic & Business Research


Policy Exchange

Adam Smith Institute




UK Political Parties

Labour Party

Conservative Party

Liberal Democrats

Green Party



The Breadmaker, social enterprise in Aberdeen