Scottish government celebrates homegrown social enterprises

Scottish minister for social security Jeanne Freeman (pictured above) says social enterprises are “truly progressive business” which “many of our other companies and businesses can do much to learn from”.

Freeman was speaking at the Social Enterprise Exchange Marketplace, which took place at the Corn Exchange in Edinburgh on 21 March with around 500 delegates in attendance. Pioneers Post was the media partner for the event.

She was filling in for the advertised appearance of the Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who was busy debating a second Scottish referendum on separating from the UK following the Brexit vote.

The minister was referring to traits of social enterprises revealed in the last census, including the number of ventures led by women (60%) and an average pay ratio of 2.5:1 between the highest and lowest paid staff. For comparison, average CEO to worker pay ratio for the FTSE 100 is 130:1.

Freeman had opened her speech by declaring that "Right now across Scotland social enterprise is shaping economic and civic life."

Referring to the ten-year social enterprise strategy that the Scottish government recently announced, Freeman added: “We share your vision of social enterprises becoming the norm; visible in all aspects of our life.” 

The minister made reference to the Scottish Business Pledge, a government initiative from 2015 that encourages businesses to operate in a fair way.  The pledge encourages businesses to connect with the communities they work in, pay the living wage and not offer zero-hours contracts. These were “goals that so many of our social enterprises are already striving towards”, said Freeman.

The minister also praised the international ambitions of Scottish social enterprises and said: “It is fitting that the Social Enterprise World Forum will return to Scotland in 2018, ten years after it all began here.”

• For more on social enterprise in Scotland, read the Black Cab Interview with Social Enterprise Scotland CEO Fraser Kelly in the latest edition of Pioneers Post Quarterly.


Photo credit: Becky Duncan / Open Aye Photography Ltd