HIE is committed to raising awareness and directly supporting the important social and economic role that social enterprise deliver.
Social enterprises trade just like any other businesses, but at their heart they have a social purpose. They trade for social, community and environmental benefits rather than distributing profits to shareholders or owners.
Across the HIE area social enterprises own and manage land, including whole estates and islands, harness renewable energy technologies, create employment, undertake infrastructure projects and provide an increasingly diverse range of essential services.
The Scottish Government recognises the direct contribution that social enterprises make to the growth of Scotland's economy, the wellbeing of its citizens and the improvement of its public services. Likewise, HIE sees social enterprises as being increasingly important contributors to social and economic growth in the Highlands and Islands.
In November 2016, the Scottish Government worked with the social enterprise community to co-produce Scotland's Social Enterprise Strategy 2016-2026. This 10 year strategy provides a framework for action over the next decade. The government will specifically concentrate on three areas: stimulating social enterprises, developing stronger organisations and realising market opportunities.
In April 2017, the Scottish Government subsequently published the follow up Action Plan: Building A Sustainable Social Enterprise Sector In Scotland: 2017-20. This sets out an ambitious framework to help realise the full potential of the social enterprise sector. It specifically outlines important first steps, working across government and with partners, to deliver the vision for social enterprise over the first three years. The plan is being published in support of Scotland’s Economic Strategy, and demonstrates in particular how social enterprises can be assisted to deliver on our ambitions for inclusive growth.
Financial sustainability encompasses everything that enables social enterprises to realise their targeted income. In addition to financial assistance, HIE, through the account management relationship with its clients can offer access to advice, either directly, or through specialist external sources.
HIE has a close working relationship with around 150 social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands through our account management approach. These social enterprises deliver a diverse range of services and products, but have the shared ambition to significantly expand their activities.
For more information on HIE support to help grow your social enterprise, please contact your local HIE Area Office.