Edinburgh social enterprise strategy image

Edinburgh has a long history of supporting social enterprises to grow and be sustainable. Social enterprise can take innovative approaches to the development of products and services in combination with delivering social and environmental benefits.

Edinburgh’s social enterprise sector operates across a wide range of areas. Key characteristics include:

  • comprises over 120 organisations;
  • involves over 4,400 people
  • comprises 460 staff, 865 trainees and over 3,000 volunteers;
  • generates £44 million per year;
  • 74% of income from trading.

Co-production over reproduction

For some time leaders in the field had been considering how the sector could build on previous successes, with a third strategy that would encourage growth, enterprise and innovation, access new markets and provide for wider opportunities. To enable this, a broad-base of experienced individuals was brought together to co-produce the strategy as it was important that this be ambitious and look to move the sector forward in a number of ways – in particular to; strengthen engagement, identify the evidence-base, develop action for improved sustainability for emerging, new and established enterprises and form a cluster of strategic outcomes.

A joint Strategy Steering Group was formed with membership from the city’s community and social enterprise sector, public sectors and business community, including; the Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network, the City of Edinburgh Council, social housing providers, the Cooperative Bank and the Social Enterprise Academy. This group provided oversight for the engagement, consultation and publication phases of the strategy. In agreeing actions, key sectors had the opportunity to opt-in to deliver outcomes and to undertake the related work packages.

A joint approach ensured that the final strategy was developed in an environment which ensured broad commitments to the suite of outcomes and a partnership approach to implementation and delivery over the next few years. Critically, new areas of opportunities were identified, including:-

  • an emphasis on opening up public sector contracting opportunities;
  • identifying and accessing innovative forms of investment
  • installing enterprise in early-years education;
  • maximising social value; and
  • harness the good practice that exists within the social enterprise community.

Oversight of performance and delivery will be undertaken by the city’s Community Planning Partnership.

The influence of Edinburgh’s Cooperative Capital Framework

The Edinburgh Cooperative Capital Framework consists of six key themes:-

  • Developing Cooperative Societies “Changing the market and economic infrastructure”
  • Cooperative Community Engagement “Changing our relationship with communities”
  • Cooperative Procurement “Changing the way we buy and grant aid goods and services”
  • Cooperative Education “Changing the culture of schools and childcare”
  • Cooperative Service Design “Changing the way we review and design services”
  • Cooperative Corporate Social Responsibility (CCSR) “Changing Corporate Social Responsibility to meet city outcomes”

A key tenet of the Framework is that to deliver the change required, a move to routinely engaging and consulting with our communities and services users will help to design services that are fit-for-purpose and will be of assistance in improving the well-being and lives of our citizens.

Similarly, a joint strategy provides for a ‘richer’ statement of intent and ambition, with a broader range of action and new developments to maximise the impacts and growth of the sector over the next few years.

“We wanted to create an inclusive strategy for the city that would create opportunities not just for existing social enterprises but also for new social entrepreneurs and third sector organisations that want to increase their trading income and that place social enterprises at the heart of a vibrant Edinburgh economy.” Neil McLean, Chair, Social Enterprise Strategy Steering Group – November 2013

To discuss the case study, please get in touch with Graeme McKechnie, from the Cooperative Development Unit, who can be reached at: [email protected]