Caithness Map :: Links to Site Map Great value Unlimited Broadband from an award winning provider  

 

Report Highlights Importance Of Social Enterprises To Scotland's Rural Economy

24th November 2019

Photograph of Report Highlights Importance Of Social Enterprises To Scotland's Rural Economy

Social enterprises are a critical part of the rural economy contributing £250m in the Highlands and Islands and South of Scotland areas.

This is according to new figures released by HIE and South of Scotland Economic Partnership (SoSEP).

The figures focusing on the impact of social enterprises in the two areas is drawn from data in the ‘Social Enterprise Census 2019' published by the Scottish Government in September.

The study shows that social enterprises have an important role in shaping rural communities. Over the past four years, there has been a consistent rate of growth in the number of social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands and South of Scotland. In both regions, the sector generated £320m and £192m in annual income and was valued at a net worth of £548m and £285m respectively.

Around a third of Scotland's social enterprises are in rural areas. There are 1,270 in the Highlands and Islands and 481 in the South of Scotland. The number of people employed in social enterprises in both areas has slightly increased from 10,163 in 2015 to 10,401 in 2019 (7,294 in the Highlands and Islands and 3,107 in the South of Scotland). Over half (57%) of social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands are led by women and in the South of Scotland, it is higher at 64%.

Anne Macdonald, communities co-ordinator at SoSEP, said: "The report provides us with robust data that helps demonstrate the breadth and diversity of social enterprises as well as highlighting needs, challenges and opportunities. This will assist us to inform policy and investment to ensure the sector on the ground is given the support it needs to deliver social and economic benefits to their communities."

Margaret McSporran, head of social enterprise development at HIE, said: "Social enterprises are a vital part of our community and economy. They often play a pivotal role in shaping and promoting the economic and social development of our more fragile and disadvantaged communities, including those battling population decline. We see the sector as an important element of the rural economy and for the sustainability of rural communities."

Social enterprises may own and manage land, including estates and islands, harness renewable energy technologies, create employment and provide an increasingly diverse range of essential services.

One example is community landowner, Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhagh (Carloway Estate Trust), which covers 11,500 acres on the west coast of the Isle of Lewis. The community group recently published a community plan that identifies development priorities for the area, some of which have already been taken forward. These include opportunities for business growth and job creation, making the area an affordable and enjoyable place to live and maintaining and enhancing the use of Gaelic in businesses and communities.

Sally Reynolds, development officer at Urras Oighreachd Chàrlabhagh, said: "The community purchased the Carloway Estate in 2015 and since then, we have been working hard to create opportunities to grow businesses and create jobs as well as developing the area as a vibrant area to live, work and visit.

"Community ownership of the estate has had many benefits for the development of projects that could help provide employment and housing and generate income. These are largely based around tourism, renewable energy and business development to stimulate the economy in the area. There is also a drive to manage land and build local skills through volunteering opportunities. This demonstrates the potential environmental and social benefits from community ownership and management of the estate."

The Shieling Project was set up near Beauly in 2013 to provide people with the tools to live a more sustainable life and also benefit the winder community. Its founder, Sam Harrison set up the off-grid learning centre that encourages everyone to experience outdoor living. The team teach people how to raise livestock, erect buildings from scratch, weave baskets and make burgers from meat they have raised onsite.

From an empty plot of land in the Highlands, Sam and his team of dedicated volunteers have built the Shieling project hub from scratch. The facilities include bothies that can sleep up to 36 people, a kitchen, washroom and a classroom and outhouses. The team hope the project can inspire others with similar ideas to make them a reality.

The Shieling Project is a business success story: in 2015 revenue income was just over £3,000 and now in 2019 it is reaching a revenue of just under £100,000.

Sam said: "I wanted to create something that was both beneficial for the community and sustainable as a business. By harnessing centuries old skills that were common across the Highlands, we believe that by looking to the past, the project can provide a blueprint for a more sustainable future. We have a strong sense of purpose and it is truly rewarding as you soon see the benefit your work is having on the community."

ReTweed is an award-winning social enterprise based in the fishing town of Eyemouth in South East Scotland. It offers women a new way to think about their futures by gaining the skills and experience for creative industry and enterprise whilst producing amazing and original furnishings and fashions and crafts. The student progress into employment, self-employment, education and volunteering. The project also delivers a range of low-cost heritage, thrift and craft workshops to the wider community and to visitors to the area. More recently, ReTweed set-up a Business Incubator where women are now receiving intensive personal and professional development support to develop their own creative enterprises.

The idea for ReTweed arose after founder, Hazel Smith, returned from a volunteer role in Senegal where she'd helped women set up community enterprises.

Hazel, said: “One of the most important aspects of our strategy are the products that are made by using the environmentally friendly material. ReTweed is upcycling up to 90% of textiles that are donated through the local community resulting in reduced landfill and C02 emissions. We have successfully helped women gain confidence and expand their skillset while learning the fundamentals of craft, design and technology in textiles."

The full Scotland report is available here

The regional versions are available here

Graphic shows 2015 Figures.

 

Related Businesses

 

Related Articles

IoT online demonstration for Highlands and Islands businesses
Businesses in the Highlands and Islands looking to boost their productivity and competitiveness through Internet of Things (IoT) technology, are being offered the chance to hear from industry experts.   Internet of Things technology enables devices, such as everyday objects, machinery and systems to connect to the internet.  
Tune into Tourism: Road to Recovery NEW WEEKLY PODCAST STARTS FRIDAY 15 MAYThumbnail for article : Tune into Tourism: Road to Recovery  NEW WEEKLY PODCAST STARTS FRIDAY 15 MAY
The Tune into Tourism team recognise that the last few months will undoubtedly have been the most difficult experienced to date as a tourism business owner.   We are concerned not only for the welfare of each and every business, but also their owners and operators.  
Appointment of the Chair of the Board of Highlands and Islands EnterpriseThumbnail for article : Appointment of the Chair of the Board of Highlands and Islands Enterprise
Mr Dodds joined the board of HIE in 2014 and became Deputy Chair in 2018.  He has also chaired the development agency's risk and assurance committee for the past four years and represented HIE on the board of the University of the Highlands and Islands.  
Update On The Pivotal Enterprise Resilience Fund
Message From HIE To Businesses.   Last week, we contacted you to make you aware of new COVID-19 business funds that had been made available, following the Scottish Government's announcement of an additional £100m support for businesses impacted by COVID-19.  
£100m Fund For Businesses Impacted By Covid-19
From Highland and Islands Enterprise.   Further to Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop's announcement this morning that the Scottish Government's additional £100m fund for businesses impacted by COVID-19 will be open for applications from 2pm, we wanted to provide you with more information about this support.  
Highlands And Islands Enterprise - Latest Covid19 Guidance
We would like to reassure you that HIE is doing all it can to gather information and work with Scottish Government to ensure that the appropriate support is reaching our communities and local economy.   We hope to soon have more detail about how to access the recently announced Scottish Government grants to help communities affected by Covid19 https://www.gov.scot/news/helping-communities-affected-by-covid-19 You will have seen new headlines emerging daily at a national and UK level with proposed measures to help individuals, businesses and communities.  
Datafest20 Launched In InvernessThumbnail for article : Datafest20 Launched In Inverness
Scotland's two week festival of data was launched on 9th March 2020 by Scottish Government's cabinet secretary for finance Kate Forbes in An Lòchran, Inverness.   Now in its fourth year, DataFest will once again showcase Scotland's leading role in data science and artificial intelligence.  
Most Northerly Distillery Set To Go At John O'GroatsThumbnail for article : Most Northerly Distillery Set To Go At John O'Groats
Planning permission was granted yesterday for a 32,670 square foot site that will house a distillery, visitor centre and bonded warehouse.   The new micro distillery at John O'Groats has secured a grant from Highland and Islands Enterprise of £198,000.  
Satellite Launch Site Plans - Another ViewThumbnail for article : Satellite Launch Site Plans - Another View
The latest generation of small communications satellites could be launched into Earth orbit from the northern Highlands of Scotland within the next two years.   Development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has submitted a planning application for a vertical launch site, Space Hub Sutherland, that it plans to construct on the A' Mhoine peninsula, Melness, near Tongue.  
Contract Awarded For £250k Adventure Tourism ProgrammeThumbnail for article : Contract Awarded For £250k Adventure Tourism Programme
Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has contracted marketing and business development company, Business and Tourism Solutions (BTS), who will work with Lochaber Chamber of Commerce to deliver the programme.   It will provide intensive engagement, support and interventions for around 50 businesses and providers in the sector across the Highland Council area.  

[Printer Friendly Version]