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A £1 million fund to help aspiring social entrepreneurs launch new ventures is ready to begin operating from March next year.
Enterprise Minister Jim Mather said yesterday that the £1 million Social Entrepreneurs Fund would provide support to help get new social enterprises off the ground with individuals setting-up and running businesses with a social and/or environmental purpose eligible to apply.
The purpose of the fund is to help build capacity, capability and financial sustainability in the Third Sector, ensuring it reaches its full potential and contributes to creating a more successful Scotland.
Mr Mather said:
"We have always been clear that the Third Sector has a crucial role to play in increasing sustainable economic growth. That is particularly true as homes and households feel the effect of the global downturn and unemployment increases.
"After the Scottish Government increased funding for the Third Sector by 37 per cent, I am delighted that we are now launching the Social Entrepreneurs Fund.
"Social enterprises can both connect with some of the most vulnerable people in society and create employment opportunities - vital in the current economic climate.
"We want to support individuals with the ambition to develop a social enterprise. This Fund will help them turn their drive into projects that help people get back to work and keep our economy moving."
The fund will be delivered by Firstport, a charity working to help start up social entrepreneurs and social enterprises throughout Scotland. Firstport currently manage the UnLtd awards programme in Scotland and deliver a wide range of support to new and emerging social entrepreneurs.
Executive Director Naomi Johnson said:
"Firstport are clear in our vision of leading new start social enterprise in Scotland and in setting a culture of professionality and a business-like approach with new start social entrepreneurs. This new start money, linked with business support and advice, sets a strong remit in the development and growth of the social enterprise sector."
Claire Carpenter, Managing Director of The Melting Pot, an Edinburgh-based social enterprise that benefited from the UnLtd scheme, said:
"Seedcorn funding of the kind provided by the new Social Entrepreneurs Fund is essential to enable individuals with drive, vision and a clear mission to turn their ideas into reality and become the social enterprises of the future."
Individuals located in Scotland will be able to apply if they have:
- A business idea with clear social benefit
- Thought about how such a business would be run
- Some evidence of need and sustainability for the business
- The drive and vision to take their idea forward
The fund will open in March 2009 and run until the end of March 2011. A total of £500,000 will be invested each year. It is anticipated that around 200 awards will be made. Awards will potentially vary between £500 and £20,000.