Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network

In March 2015 I was headed for Scotland and could not resist reaching out to the Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network. When you think of social enterprise in the UK, London and surrounding areas come to mind easily, Scotland and more precisely Edinburgh… not so much. Was I wrong! What I found was a true pearl in the social enterprise sector!

Here’s what you should know about social enterprise in Edinburgh (and here is where you can read the full 2015 report):

The number of social enterprises in Scotland has increased from 120 in 2013 to 200 in 2015. They work with 1,220 staff, 650 trainers and 6,000 volunteers generating an annual  turnover of £120 million. A whopping 94% of the sector’s income is generated from trading – that’s how social entrepreneurship is done!

edinburgh sunset

Edinburgh even has a social enterprise strategy; its declared goals are1)http://www.edinburghcompact.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Nov2013_Enabling_Enterprise.pdf

  • to grow its social enterprise sector in size and resilience
  • to maximize and profile the social value of public services
  • to enhance engagement of social entrepreneurs with their users and customers
  • to understand and recognize the impact of the social enterprise sector
  • to increase access to  social enterprise education in high schools, further and higher education.

The Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network (ESEN) was established in 2005 and today counts 105 members. “In the beginning, it was just a group of social entrepreneurs who came together in a very loose network that grew organically.”, says Linsay Chalmers when I meet with her in March this year. ESEN offers partners one-on-one support, networking, peer-support, learning events, information and – remarkably – promotion and presentation of the social enterprise sector as a whole. I say ‘remarkably’ because their marketing campaign is worth a mention. The campaign Buy the Good Stuff does a great job in raising awareness of social enterprises in Edinburgh. It certainly worked for me: selective perception or not – walking through the streets of Edinburgh I noticed a great number of charity stores, cafes and social enterprises. I even walked by the opening of a social enterprise that organized tool-sharing for gardening in their neighborhood – just right there on the Walk of Leith.

Buy the good stuff
ESEN also provides support to new social enterprises in Edinburgh. Together with their partner Community Enterprise they sponsor up to two days of capacity building for social entrepreneurs including support in market research, marketing and legal advice, business planning, financial planning, partnership development, asset transfer, and tenders and funding bids. Thanks to their well established network, they are able to signpost newcomers to other support services available in the area.



References   [ + ]

1. http://www.edinburghcompact.org.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Nov2013_Enabling_Enterprise.pdf

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