Social enterprise is where the energy of business meets the compassion of charity, writes Rebecca McKinney (Social Enterprise Alliance Midlothian).
Social enterprises are businesses that dedicate their profits to social benefits such as relieving poverty, helping people learn new skills, care of children and vulnerable adults, the provision of community facilities and much more. It is a vibrant and growing sector, contributing an estimated £1.68 billion to the Scottish economy annually and employing over 100,000 people.
Social enterprises come in many forms and sizes. They are active throughout most of Midlothian’s communities, providing us with valued services, jobs and places for fun.
The Kabin in Loanhead, the Glencorse Centre, the McSence Group, Midlothian Advice and Resource Centre, the after-school clubs, and Transgression Skatepark are all social enterprises.
The Penicuik Storehouse, in the town centre, will be a new community-owned social enterprise bakery, café and food store, significantly funded by investment from local people.
So how do social enterprises get started? All it takes is a single person or a small group of people to see a social problem and think up a business idea to solve it. You don’t need any specific qualifications to start a social enterprise but you do need energy, determination and willingness to learn as you go.
If you have that great idea for a social enterprise, there is help here for you. My project, the Social Enterprise Alliance for Midlothian (SEAM) provides support, advice and training for any social enterprise based or working in Midlothian. I am part of the team at Midlothian Voluntary Action in Dalkeith and can help you with one-off queries or work with you over months to get your ideas off the ground. I can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 0131 663 9471.