Scottish social enterprises go global with new action plan

The Scottish government has published an action plan to build on the success of social enterprises in the country by helping them sell internationally.

The announcement came during a session at a conference run by social enterprise support agency CEIS in Glasgow. The support is intended to help build on the £1.68bn contribution social enterprises already make to the Scottish economy. Currently 5% of social enterprises in the country export their goods and services. 

Angela Constance of the Scottish National Party is the cabinet secretary for communities, social security and equalities. She told the audience about the Scottish government's pride in social enterprise and said: “This is the moment for social enterprise in Scotland to cement its place as a world leader.”

Scotland’s government has long been supportive of social enterprise, with the country’s deputy first minister John Swinney, throwing his weight behind social enterprise on previous occasions.

The social enterprise sector in Scotland is increasingly being looked at by other countries. The CEIS conference played host to a delegation from South Korea and an afternoon session focused on the ties between Canada and Scotland.

The international action plan includes promotion of social enterprise abroad, including ministerial visits; help with trade such as export advice and financial assistance from Scottish Development International; a focus on investment from both philanthropists and investors; sharing knowledge internationally, with bursaries available for social enterprise leaders to foster international connections.

"We want to build a reputation for international excellence and to become a global hub for research and learning," Constance said.

As well as the international support, Constance promised a national ten-year social enterprise strategy for Scotland with a domestic focus would be published before the end of the year. There are more than 5000 social enterprises operating in Scotland.

Whilst the news of a supportive domestic strategy was welcome, at least one social enterprise leader Pioneers Post spoke to commented: "It would have been good to hear more substance about what we can expect".

Constance was followed on to the stage by Yvonne Strachan, head of equality, human rights and the third sector for the Scottish government. When pressed for specific details of the domestic strategy, Strachan told the audience that it would be developed in the next few months.


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