We are particularly interested in the concept of “social enterprise”, and indeed several of our existing partners include a significant element of enterprise in their work. We are keen to attract more proposals of this kind.
What is a “social enterprise” ?
Answering this question is not as simple as it might seem ! There is no formal legal definition in the UK as yet, unlike a conventional company or charity. However, a noted commentator defines a social enterprise as having six fundamental characteristics :
it has a social purpose
it achieves this, at least in part, by trading in the marketplace – this trading income need not necessarily replace grant income entirely
it does not distribute surpluses/profits to individuals (such as owners/directors or shareholders), but retains surpluses within the organisation for its own use, or that of its defined community (for additional services, new investment etc)
it holds assets and wealth in trust for community benefit
it democratically involves members of its community in the governance of the organisation, by involving employees/volunteers/staff and/or other stakeholders in a structured way
it is an independent organisation accountable to a defined constituency and the wider community
Our existing "social enterprise" partners
Five of our existing partners have a "social enterprise" focus in their work :
Cyrenians Farm - our investment supports their production of fruit and vegetables for sale in the local area, as well as other aspects of the farm's work. In addition, the farm has an income stream from hosting corporate team building events. The wider Cyrenians operation in the Lothians also includes a food waste recycling business (CORE), and support to assist people into employment. For more information, see their partner page and the links given there to the Cyrenians websites.
Autism Initiatives - our investment supports their development of a horticulture-based training and employment scheme for autistic people in Edinburgh and the Lothians. At the site at the Hermitage Golf Course, they will also be operating a cafe. And AIS has already opened The Gallery on the Corner in Edinburgh, which fully represents and supports inclusive artwork produced by artists who have a physical or mental health condition or those from a disadvantaged background. For more information, see their partner page and the link given there to the AIS website.
Diaosu, Dundee - our investment supports this community arts company in their development of a youth programme aimed at 16-24 year olds in the city. This will include the opportunity for young people go into business selling their artwork. For more information, see their partner page.
Pucheng Country Women's Sustainable Development Association - our investment supports microfinance loans to women in this poor rural county in northwest China. The ultimate goal of each loan is to raise the income level of the women and their families, as well as raising their educational and social status. Typical uses by the 20 or so households supported to date include agricultural businesses such as fruit orchards, corn, cotton, pigs and sheep. For more information, see their partner page.
Global Heritage Fund, Pingyao city - our two investments are supporting training for skilled craftspeople and artisans to pass on and preserve the traditional craft of woodblock printing, part of Pingyao's unique living heritage. Older experienced craftspeople are training the next generation in these ancient skills. The team at Pingyao is already working on the development of new markets, at home and abroad, for their products. For more information, see their partner page and the links given there to GHF websites.
In addition, several other partners have well-developed trading operations to support their work, while others are developing "social enterprise" projects for the future.
"Social enterprise" awards
Proposals for awards that include an element of "social enterprise" are welcome. For more details of how to apply, please see this page. In assessing any such proposals, we would take into account the characteristics of a "social enterprise" listed above.
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This page was last updated on 10 March 2013.
The Blackford Trust, c/o Gillespie Macandrew LLP (B.12891.1), 5 Atholl Crescent, Edinburgh, EH3 8EJ, Scotland, United Kingdom