New project launched to encourage social entrepreneurs

Geoff Leask (CEO of Young Enterprise Scotland)

A NEW initiative which provides the first comprehensive source of information on values-led business models is launched this week to support young entrepreneurs looking to set up companies with a social or environmental purpose. 

The Inclusive Business Models Project draws together case studies of a variety of Scottish business leaders who have chosen to divert from the traditional corporate setup to establish co-operatives, employee-owned businesses, social enterprises, B-Corps, purpose driven businesses and community interest companies.

Through a range of videos and written case studies, including Jangling Space, Prickly Thistle and Hey Girls, nearly 16,000 young people will now be able to access and learn about the ever-increasing importance of such business models to the economy and society.

The project is a collaboration between Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) – part of Scottish Enterprise and the arm of Scotland’s enterprise agencies that supports company growth through employee ownership and co-operative business models – and Young Enterprise Scotland, who will make the case study materials available through its Bridge 2 Business programme for college students and via its Company Programme in Scotland’s secondary schools. 

Geoff Leask, CEO of Young Enterprise (YE) Scotland said:

“As awareness of environmental and social issues continues to grow, the young people we work with are increasingly interested in developing businesses with a social and/or environmental purpose. It makes this project hugely important as for the first time it will ensure that young people in Scotland have an increased understanding of each of the purpose or values-based business models they can deploy.

“Values driven businesses create wealth in more than an economic sense – they support wellbeing, communities and the environment – all more vital than ever given the current global challenges that we face.”

Following the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economy Transformation, which calls for a greater entrepreneurial campus infrastructure, Head of Co-operative Development Scotland Clare Alexander also welcomes the Project with YE Scotland as a means to maximise and develop programmes that are already delivering successful results. She added:

“Together with YE Scotland we have created a range of innovative, engaging and dynamic materials that will increase understanding and knowledge of the benefits of a values-led approach in business. By bringing this information together in one place, we hope to inspire, encourage and celebrate more young entrepreneurs.

“These business models have a positive impact for both the economy and society more widely. We know that purpose-driven companies have higher rates of employee engagement, are more resilient and that these days investors are taking into account a company’s culture and ethics – not just its ability to make money.

The businesses involved include Brave Strong Beautiful, FutureX & Welcome, GUITARGUITAR, Jangling Space, Prickly Thistle, The Apprentice Store, Beauty Kitchen, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-Operative, Good-Loop, Hey Girls, The Turing Trust and Treen. 

Brian Morgan is part of Jangling Space, a co-operative of over 200 members. He offers his advice to young people in one of the videos available through the Inclusive Business Models Project.  He said:

“There are many different ways of doing business that people aren’t familiar with. A co-operative blends with for-profit businesses but serves a very different purpose. Co-operative members decide what to produce, how to do it and what to do with the profits. The goal is to make businesses truly accountable to those they claim to serve. The connection we have created means we have had an effect on people’s lives.”

The case study materials were produced on behalf of the project by the Creative Entrepreneurs Club.

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