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Social Enterprise in Scotland Census reveals growing influence of sector

The increasing scale, reach and influence of social enterprise in Scotland was revealed  in the authoritative ‘Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2015’ report, an ambitious project which gathered the views of more than 1,000 social enterprises across the nation.

The results, which were launched at the Social Enterprise Policy & Practice conference on 2nd September by steering group members*, confirmed Scotland as a world-leading nation in nurturing social enterprise. It also found clear recognition in Scotland that social enterprise is a fairer and more inclusive way of doing business.

While social enterprise is a concept arguably dating back centuries, in its current form it is a relatively young sector in Scotland as the average age of Scottish social enterprises is 17, with 25% of all of them formed in the last five years and 42% formed in the last 10 years.

There are now more than 5,000 social enterprises spread across the nation, with 27% based in either Glasgow or Edinburgh and rural areas punching above their weight, particularly the Highlands and Islands region which accounts for only 9% of the population but for 22% of social enterprises

The report, which is the first of its kind, had encouraging news on business creation with new social enterprises forming at a rate of more than 200 per year. There was also encouraging news on diversity as more than 60% have a woman as their most senior employee, a far higher ratio than for business in general.


The census supports the sector’s vision to achieve an International Social Enterprise strategy over 10 years as explained by John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, Scottish Government (link to video).

To download the full report, click here

*The Social Enterprise Census 2015 was funded by: Big Lottery Fund, Co-operative Development Scotland, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Nesta, Social Investment Scotland, Scottish Enterprise and The Scottish Government.

The Social Enterprise Census 2015 is a project endorsed and guided by the following main partners: Big Lottery Fund, Community Enterprise in Scotland, Co-operative Development Scotland, Firstport, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Glasgow Caledonian University, Nesta, Scottish Enterprise, The Scottish Government, Scottish Urban Regeneration Forum, Senscot, Social Enterprise Academy, Social Enterprise Scotland, Social Enterprise UK, Social Firms Scotland, and Social Investment Scotland.



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