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Ten Top Tips For Social Firm Success

10th April 2006

Ten top tips for social enterprise companies will be offered at a busy conference in Strathpeffer next month.

Entitled 'A Different Way of Doing Business', the event has been organised by a trail-blazing company set up to help communities establish socially beneficial businesses.

The firm, called Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone (HISEZ) - a community interest company (or CIC) - has attracted national attention as the first of its kind in Scotland since Chancellor Gordon Brown announced his support for such models.

Assisted towards independence by Communities Scotland and Highlands and Islands Enterprise, HISEZ has provided support, advice and hard work to develop a vast range of community businesses including wind turbines, waste recycling, childcare and community transport.

The company's inaugural annual conference last year was hailed as a great success and this year around 150 delegates are expected to gather at Strathpeffer's spa pavilion on April 20 to hear some high profile speakers pass on their experience.

Chris Higgins head of HIE's Enterprising Communities team explained, "Community businesses are like any other company in that they have to trade competitively but with the aim of making a positive contribution to their community. By sharing expertise these companies can increase their profitability, reduce grant dependency and build the sustainability of the sector. This conference attracts interest not only from the Highlands and islands but from people in other rural parts of Scotland who have similar challenges."

At the conference Mr Higgins will be speaking on how communities can capitalise on their assets, while the national regulator of Community Interest Companies, John Hanlon will be outlining the definition of CICs.

Among the other key speakers, Leona McDermid, national policy and development officer social firms Scotland, will be offering top tips for social enterprises, while James Hilder from the Mull and Iona Community Trust will be outlining what can be done in an island community.

Sue Boulton of HISEZ said: "The conference is an excellent networking opportunity for representatives of social businesses as well as for people interested in setting one up. It also offers a chance for CICs to exhibit their work."

For more information about the conference contact Lucy Morrison on 01463 715533.


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