The 2017 Social Enterprise Census for Scotland demonstrates the significance of social enterprise in the rural context with 34% of Scotland’s social enterprises being based in rural Scotland, with only 18% of the nation’s population.
There is a long and well-established social enterprise sector across rural Scotland, some of which have been operating for over 100 years. Rural Scotland has also been at the forefront of community land movement and community-led action to sustain assets and services.
From the previous census, we were able to drill down to a local level and identify that social enterprise generates £87.33million per annum to the Argyll and Bute economy (including £30.3 million Housing Association). However, what was more revealing was the significance to social benefit where many social enterprises indicated that there was not an alternative provider of their services.
It also highlighted most social enterprises in the rural context are small with 48% delivering activities in a single neighbourhood or community, compared with 26% operating at that level nationally. This is also evident in the turnover scale with 70% of social enterprises having a turnover of less than £100k, compared to 57% at this scale in the national context. These many small social enterprises have a significant role to play in sustaining rural and remote communities.
Scotland’s Social Enterprise Census 2019
We look forward to hearing the 2019 census results at the Social Enterprise Policy & Practice Conference in Glasgow on 4th September and discussing the rural context in more depth in a dedicated workshop session. This will inform work with a range of partners to ensure the appropriate support, learning resources and investment is provided to support the sector.
The census provides us with robust data that helps demonstrate the breadth and diversity of social enterprise as well as highlighting needs, challenges and opportunities. The 2019 census will assist to inform policy and investment to ensure the social enterprises on the ground are given the support and assistance they need to deliver social and economic benefits in their communities.
For rural social enterprises, this is often about the sustainability and provision of robust local services and utilising the collective support of volunteer boards. We anticipate that the social enterprise sector will continue to be an important element of the rural economy and for the sustainability of rural communities.
Book your place at the conference to hear the 2019 Census results and contribute to the discussion. I look forward to seeing you there!
Ailsa Clark, Founder, InspirAlba; and Steering Committee Member, Scotland’s Social Enterprise Census
Inspiralba was established in 2009 to assist community-based organisations to turn their ideas and aspirations into robust and sustainable business activities. Inspiralba has a proven track record of supporting community organisations to build resilient and reliable income streams, enabling them to deliver sustainable community services and assets.
We are Argyll based and have specialist knowledge and understanding of the local economy, geography, demographics and the particular challenges and opportunities across the rural and island communities of Argyll and the islands. Learn more at http://www.inspiralba.org.uk/