How we helped accelerate the growth of 15 social enterprises

Posted in: Blog, News.

Four people sitting around a table working on some documents

In October 2021 we worked closely with Firstport and the Glasgow City Council to help deliver the Widening Horizons Growth Accelerator programme. This fully funded programme was developed to support ambitious Glasgow-based social entrepreneurs and enterprises to strengthen their organisations, achieve growth, and further develop their social impact.

Throughout the course of the programme, we provided one-to-one business support, peer-based support, training from sector experts and access to potential investors and lenders. As well as attending seminars on the topics below, the group were also set practical group exercises, enabling open discussions and peer learning. Each seminar also involved the social entrepreneurs applying their learning to their business.

  • Generating Changemaking Ideas
  • Understanding your target markets
  • Operational Planning
  • Pricing
  • Communications & Sales
  • Financial Forecasting
  • Leadership & Recruitment
  • Executive Summaries
  • Getting Ready for Investment

Through this programme, we are proud to have supported 15 social enterprises to scale up their business by identifying and developing an idea focused on:

  • Introducing a new product or service
  • Increasing market share
  • Market expansion
  • Adding new channels, operating online or through new operational mechanisms

Originally planned as an in-person programme before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, we like many others had to adapt to an online delivery model very quickly. Consequently, this model proved to be the best solution for many of our participants who found the balance suited their other organisational commitments.

Whilst this programme took advantage of all the skills and expertise of our Business Advisors across our Enterprise and Communities team, colleague Gary McNairn was responsible for the delivery and co-ordination of the programme.

At the end of the programme each of the 15 enterprises, all from different industries including community cafes and catering organisations; befriending services; community spaces; health & wellbeing; early age learning & development; and media groups had developed a ready to implement growth plan.

Here is what Gary had to say about his experience of running the programme:

“Working on The Glasgow Social Enterprise Accelerator Programme has been one of the highlights of my career to date. The impact of the pandemic brought around many challenges for most businesses around the world. For us, these challenges forced us to consider how we deliver our own services. This led to restructuring our delivery method and demonstrated just how adaptable and innovative we are as an organisation. Personally, I feel the transition to a digital delivery model is a positive step forward for us and will support us as an organisation towards achieving our net zero goals.

The programme came at the right time for many of the organisations in the cohort, who were also adapting to new ways of working because of the lockdown restrictions. The success of the programme has seen 15 social enterprises in Glasgow develop their commercial capabilities, making them less reliant on grant funding and more financially sustainable.

For the communities these organisations serve it has created positive change with significant improvements to the financial, social and environmental wellbeing of the people within these communities.

With today’s current cost of living crisis and the financial downturn from the Covid-19 pandemic yet to fully hit we need more social entrepreneurs like those in this group to help support our communities through the difficult times we will no doubt face in the months and years to come. It was amazing to see so many socially focused people and organisations come together to adapt, innovate, and drive towards achieving positive change for their communities. I am looking forward to watching these innovative businesses thrive over the next few years and strengthening their already strong impacts.”

What the programme participants had to say

Sunny Govan Media Group, who took part in the programme, investigated new ways to drive revenue following significant disruption to their services during the pandemic. As a result of their learning and the work they have put into the programme they are forecasting a 191% increase on earned revenue within the next financial year by entering new markets and developing new services. Steven Gilfoyle from the Sunny Govan Media Group said:

“The Accelerator Programme helped us to take time away from the day to running of our organisation and strategise for growth. We feel as a social enterprise it is fundamental to our organisation to increase our earned revenue to support our community and become less reliant on grant funding in the future. This programme gave us the tools and the insight to achieve this. We worked with a team of experienced business advisors and where part of a cohort of similar organisations that we were able to share our ideas and experiences with. Although this was an intensive programme I felt the structure of it and the online delivery model really helped us to get the learning we needed whilst not taking too much time away from our day to day business. I am very excited about the future of Sunny Govan and the positive impacts we will have on our community.”

Another organisation Giggle N Grow have identified a new delivery model which will support them to reach a wider audience and bring residual income into their organisation to further support their impacts. Linda Muirhead from Giggle n Grow said:

“Being part of the Accelerator Programme has given us a clear path to work through to achieve our goals of becoming more sustainable and we have a better business strategy now. Blocking out the time every week to attend the seminars and workshops gave us the opportunity to really look at our programme, our marketing strategy, pricing and allowed us the opportunity to explore the best way forward.”

It has been great to see the 15 organisations continue their growth journey because of this programme, and we’re excited to see how they will continue on that journey in the coming weeks and months.

Does your organisation need support to grow? If so, get in touch with us today to see how we could help your enterprise reach the next level.



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