Social enterprises in Scotland are to receive free business support over the next four years as part of £4.75 million programme funded by the Scottish Government.

Just Enterprise, a partnership of third sector organisations which supports social enterprises and charities in Scotland, is delivering the project to help build financial resilience and growth in the social enterprise sector.

Social enterprises are businesses which trade for a social or environmental purpose.

Free business advice, workshops, leadership development and one-to-one coaching will be offered through the project to early stage social entrepreneurs, social enterprises and ‘enterprising charities’ – charities whose income streams include trading activity.

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Just Enterprise is a national programme that is funded by the Scottish Government and managed by Glasgow-based social enterprise support agency, Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS).

Martin Avila, chief executive of CEIS Group, said: “Social entrepreneurs who follow their passion may not yet have the range of skills which lead to business success, but through the Just Enterprise programme, we hope to break down some of those barriers by providing tailored guidance and support.”

The business support being offered will include a focus on sustainability and equality, diversity and inclusion.

Just Enterprise said they would also promote net zero scorecards, a tool organisations can use to show their progress on decarbonisation, highlight areas for improvement and find additional funding sources.

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Other advice will include how to start your own enterprise, leadership skills, marketing, measuring social impact and attracting investment.

Since launching in 2011, Just Enterprise said it had supported more than 11,000 people across 8,000 enterprises in Scotland’s third sector to get started, develop and grow.

On average, the programme has helped organisations to increase turnover by £50,000 and create two new full-time jobs.

The Crannie, a community hub in Edinburgh’s Old Town which offers free events and activities for local residents at its Cranston Street base, is one of the organisations Just Enterprise has supported.

Jackie Cropper, chief executive of the Old Town Development Trust, which operates The Crannie, said: “Our aim is to bring people together and help social inclusion, but we cannot do that without funding. Having developed our venue hire enterprise, with guidance from Just Enterprise, we now have a steady income stream to help cover the cost of the various resources needed to keep the groups running.”  

According to social enterprise organisation, Social Enterprise Scotland, there are more than 6,000 social enterprises in Scotland, contributing around £2.6 billion to the economy.