Sunday, November 17, 2019

Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator gears up for fifth intake of applications

Catriona Haston
Catriona Haston

LaunchMe, Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator programme has opened its fifth round of applications, looking for innovative social enterprises with the ambition to grow and achieve social impact at scale.

Delivered by social enterprise agency Firstport, LaunchMe supports social enterprises to grow by getting them investment ready and directly connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. Since 2014, it has supported 29 participants across four rounds, seven of whom are currently on our Round 4 programme, and 13 of those have gone on to secure over £1m of investment from private investors.

LaunchMe counts some of Scotland’s best known social enterprises amongst its alumni including Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket Locavore; letting agency Homes for Good; sandwich-shop chain Social Bite; and creative retailer the Scottish Design Exchange. The programme, funded by the Scottish Government as well as Highlands and Islands Enterprise, is currently supporting its fourth intake which will be ready to pitch for investment in the autumn of 2019.

Community transport operator and LaunchMe Round 3 participant South Ayrshire Community Transport (SACT) last week unveiled the launch of two new minibuses acquired through the investment secured through the programme. Catriona Haston, Community Transport Manager, said: “SACT is extremely grateful to LaunchMe as it helped us sharpen up our operational skills and business practices, giving us the ability and courage to think outside the box and scale up our operations.  The investment secured through the programme together with a grant from the Big Lottery allowed us to buy a further two wheelchair-accessible minibuses. These are helping us in our mission of combating social isolation by connecting people with the places and facilities they need.”

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “LaunchMe has a well-established track record of supporting scaleable social enterprises to grow and increase their social impact. It is fantastic to see how the business support and investment opportunities the programme provides has allowed organisations like SACT to create jobs, expand operations, deliver better services and ultimately benefit communities across Scotland.

We are excited about supporting the next group of ambitious social entrepreneurs and I encourage anyone interested in applying to visit our website or give our team a call.”

Applications for LaunchMe open on Tuesday 13 August and close on Monday 21 October. Interested participants should visit the Firstport website for more information.

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