£4.75 million funding boost for enterprising third sector

Left to Right: Martin Avila, Jackie Cropper, Tom Arthur MSP

JUST Enterprise – the collective behind a targeted support programme for the third sector – has been awarded £4.75 million from the Scottish Government to help the social enterprise sector build financial resilience and grow.

Delivered by a partnership of 11 Scottish social enterprise support organisations, the four-year initiative will provide early stage social entrepreneurs and established enterprising charities and social enterprises with a programme of free business advice, workshops, leadership development and one-to-one coaching.

The services will pay particular attention to sustainability as well as equality, diversity and inclusion, reflecting some of the key challenges facing the third sector. Just Enterprise will promote the  recently developed a net zero scorecard that organisations can use to highlight areas for improvement, set out next steps, and pinpoint additional funding sources.

Additional advice will cover topics such as how to start your own enterprise, leadership skills, marketing, measuring social impact, and attracting investment. Since launching in 2011, Just Enterprise has supported more than 11,000 individuals 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.

Martin Avila, CEO of CEIS Group, said: “The third sector has an increasingly important role to play in our modern economy. While charitable and social enterprises are not typically seen as commercial entities, a steady, resilient income stream can underpin and help to finance a wider purpose-led ambition. 

“We work with enterprising organisations of all kinds, large and small. Some may have an idea that they need support to develop further, while others may feel confused about how to get started with a new enterprise. 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.

“Two big topics we’ll cover are diversity and sustainability, which are much talked about priorities for almost all businesses in Scotland. As a nation, we have not yet managed to meet our ambitious emissions targets and it’s clear that we still have work to do across all sectors. That’s why the new Just Enterprise programme will provide unprecedented levels of specialist support for social enterprises to set and achieve their own net zero goals.” 

Among the organisations Just Enterprise has previously supported is The Crannie, a community hub in Edinburgh’s Old Town which offers free events and activities for local residents at its Cranston Street base. In 2019, The Crannie was supported by Just Enterprise to develop its venue hire business, providing additional income for the charity.

Jackie Cropper, CEO of the Old Town Development Trust, which operates The Crannie, said: “Each week we host a range of sessions for people in the Old Town community to join including digital skills workshops, art classes, creative writing, and our popular ‘knit and natter’ group. 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.”     

Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance, Tom Arthur MSP, said: “I congratulate the Just Enterprise consortium on their success in being awarded the contract to deliver business support to Scotland’s enterprising third sector, creating a welcoming, supportive and positive environment where people can thrive through social enterprise.

“Scotland’s social enterprise sector is almost uniquely placed to be the exemplar of how a sector can be truly inclusive, truly diverse with an embedded, mainstreamed equitable approach that makes a real difference on the ground.”

To find out more and sign-up for the free business advice sessions, visit:https://justenterprise.org/

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