The Editor’s Post: Can the Scottish social enterprise ecosystem drive diversity?
Gael Drummond from Firstport (right of picture) says the high level of support the Scottish social enterprise ecosystem provides enables entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds to develop their ventures. This week’s view from the Pioneers Post newsroom.
Scotland’s Kelvingrove Art Gallery is an iconic building in the west end of Glasgow and it lent significant gravitas to the Gaelic lullabies workshop I attended at the weekend as part of the Celtic Connections music festival.
My two-year-old son sat on my knee, rapt at the beautiful singing, then offered his assessment: “That’s not Old MacDonald.” Let’s say immersing him in Scottish culture is a work in progress.
Visits to this part of Glasgow are always evocative for me because I lived there for five years while at university. This wander down Kelvin Way/memory lane completed a week of having Scottish universities at the forefront of my mind, after reporting on the launch of the Ventures Lab in Edinburgh.
Everyone gets the right support at the right time. And that really drives diversity
The Ventures Lab, launched by the Challenges Group with support from the Scottish government, will provide significant funding and business support for at least five new purpose-led businesses in Scotland every year for the next five years.
At its launch, Challenges Group CEO Eoghan Mackie stated his aim to develop pathways for budding social entrepreneurs from every university in Scotland to the Ventures Lab. This strategy was rightly celebrated by speakers from across the Scottish social enterprise ecosystem at the event, but equally important is that the Ventures Lab is open to applications from social entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and starting points.
“So it’s not about your education. It’s not about your qualifications. It's not about who you are, or where you come from,” said Drummond. “Everyone gets the right support at the right time. And that really drives diversity – diversity of thought, diversity of background.”
A Social Enterprise UK report published in December revealed that social enterprises operating in the most deprived areas reported seeing a higher drop in turnover, fewer public sector contracts and greater contraction in jobs.
Hopefully, initiatives like the Ventures Lab, and Scotland’s ecosystem at large, which is often celebrated as one of the most supportive in the world, can ensure social entrepreneurs and social enterprises operating in the country’s most deprived areas are able to access the funding and support they need to survive and thrive.
This week's top stories
Top photo: (left to right) Ross McKenzie, director of venture support, Challenges Group, Neil Gray, Scottish government wellbeing economy secretary, Martin Avila, group CEO, CEIS Group, Dr Claudia Cavalluzzo, executive director, Converge, Dr Catherine Breslin, head of industry engagement & commercialisation, University of Strathclyde and Gael Drummond, CEO, Firstport in a panel discussion at the launch of the Ventures Lab (credit: CEIS Group)