Social enterprise takes centre stage in Scotland [interview with Gerry Higgins]

Posted in: News.

Social enterprise has a long and proud history in Scotland but the results of the country’s first comprehensive sector census (pdf) show that it is thriving today as never before.

We asked Gerry Higgins, the CEO of Glasgow-based CEIS and a founder of the Social Enterprise World Forum, to draw on his 30 years of experience in explaining some of the most striking findings.

What has the census told you about social enterprise in your country?

It has provided a wealth of evidence about the scale, characteristics, contribution and aspirations of the social enterprise community. It has also reaffirmed the growing significance of social enterprise to our communities.

Social enterprises have been shown to be active in almost every part of the economy, from the creative industries to sustainable tourism.

Despite the historical roots of social enterprise, many of those active today have only emerged over the last decade and the pace of new enterprise formation appears to be accelerating each year.

As Jonathan Coburn of Social Value Lab has noted, “the overall scale of the social enterprise sector has come as a surprise to many; in terms of the number of social enterprises operating, their employment and economic contribution. The figures suggest a much larger sector than previously thought and one that appears to be growing fast.”

A large part of the social enterprise community in Scotland has grown under the radar over many years. It comprises small and micro enterprises strongly rooted in a single place – villages, towns or neighbourhoods – that manage important amenities and services such as community buildings, childcare and so on.

“Social enterprise has become the natural way of doing business and the cornerstone of community life and wellbeing.”

22% of Scottish social enterprises are based in the highlands and islands, which are home to only 9% of the population. What accounts for this?

To read the full article in the Guardian, click here

To download a copy of the census, check out our resources

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