On 10-11th June, CEIS in partnership with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and Social Enterprise Scotland held the Social Enterprise Summit, a first of its kind exploring the challenges and opportunities for rural social enterprises.
The event, heralded as a success, was attended by over 200 delegates from across the UK, Canada, Australia and China as they gathered to hear from Deputy First Minister, John Swinney who congratulated Highlands and Islands Enterprise on their landmark 50 years of support in the region. Mr Swinney went on to convey First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s views on the journey to economic growth for Scotland and the important role he felt social enterprise could play in making this happen.
This was followed by local enterprises Cope Ltd, Stramash and North Harris Trust and David Le Page, Chair, Social Enterprise Council of Canada and David Brookes, MD, Social Traders Australia who presented their solutions to tackling local rural issues to achieve sustainable growth.
David Brookes commented “Delegates were interested in hearing about the GOOD SPENDER platform that we have developed recently in partnership with Australia Post to enhance online sales and marketing for social enterprise products.
Australia is home to many of the most innovative and dynamic social enterprise models in practice around the world. Unfortunately however, the full potential of social enterprise in urban and regional economies is not being realised due to the lack of a visible and enabling environment.
“The visionary and strategic approach to social enterprise being adopted here in Scotland is a model worth our Australian political and government leaders considering as we grapple with our own rising economic and social challenges”.
Over the next day and a half delegates then enjoyed the opportunity to network, explore business opportunities and build capacity at an Evening Reception sponsored by Highland Council and a full day trade show peppered with practical ‘how to?’ sessions and ‘meet the buyer’ sessions with NHS Highland and Highland Council.
Rachael McCormack, Director of Strengthening Communities, Highlands and Islands Enterprise worked hard to bring the event to the Highlands and said “Social enterprises bring far reaching economic and community benefits to many of our most rural areas. They create jobs, attract people and bring investment. Our region’s social entrepreneurs are very ambitious and optimistic. The sector is expanding and is well placed to drive further growth in areas such as creative industries, renewable energy, food and drink and tourism. Hosting this international summit in the Highlands offered practitioners and social businesses the chance to showcase their products and services, learn about and share what’s going on in the sector, and explore potential partnership and collaboration opportunities with other delegates.
“We have delivered much more to the sector than an event. I know great value will be drawn from conversations and contacts made at the event for some time to come”.
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To read articles from the event media partner, Pioneers Post visit www.pioneerspost.com