Scottish Government
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International recognition on social enterprise

Finance Secretary outlines Scotland’s world-leading approach in Norway.

International interest is growing in Scotland as a leader in social enterprise; working collaboratively with the third sector and social enterprises to make a real difference to people’s lives.

Finance and Sustainable Growth Secretary John Swinney is to speak in Oslo, Norway this week at the Ferd conference on Social Entrepreneurship – alongside Norway’s Minister for Labour and Social Affairs, Robert Eriksson – outlining the Scottish Government’s commitment to supporting the development of a capable, sustainable and enterprising third sector in Scotland.

Scotland hosted a global Social Enterprise Exchange in Glasgow in 2013 and will be represented in Korea in October at the Social Enterprise World Forum.

Mr Swinney said:

“Scotland has been recognised as the best place in the world to start a social enterprise and there is increasing international interest in what some are calling the ‘Scottish Model’.

“We believe that an enterprising third sector is a vital partner in our economy, in civic society and in the creation of a fairer and more inclusive Scotland. That is why we have invested heavily to help the sector develop – but it’s not just about money – it’s about support at every level. We need to ensure strategy, policy, legislation, infrastructure and direct investment is joined up and makes sense. It’s this holistic support for social enterprise and the third sector at every level that is distinctive about our approach – and that is delivering real results here in Scotland.

“Our work to create an environment where social enterprise can thrive is part of a revolution in the delivery of services, of government and in building successful businesses that has been taking place across the country.

“This conference is an excellent opportunity to share our experience of building a strong social enterprise sector with our friends in Norway. We look to the Nordic model in many areas, such as their progressive approach to childcare, and I’m delighted to continue that long history of collaboration.

“Since 2007, we have reshaped the way government works; focussing all parts of government on the same outcomes, building new relationship with local government, encouraging a collaborative approach across the whole public sector and focusing on community empowerment.

“Social enterprises continue to have a huge impact on communities throughout Scotland. In Glasgow alone, a recent survey reported that there are 509 social enterprises, with a combined annual income of £767 million. It is estimated that there are between 3,000 and 4,000 social enterprises in Scotland as a whole, and the sector is growing.

“2014 is an important year for both our countries with our referendum on independence and Norway marking its 200th anniversary of their constitution, when it gained its independence from Denmark.

“We have achieved a lot with the powers we have - but with the powers that independence would give us - over welfare, taxation and the economy - we can do even more to support the third sector and promote its growth, effectiveness and sustainability for years to come.”

Gerry Higgins, CEO of Community Enterprise in Scotland and Founder and Director of Social Enterprise World Forum said:

“Scotland has the most comprehensive policy framework for social enterprise in the world. This has helped create a comprehensive and effective ecosystem of support for social enterprise that can be considered world-leading.

“The Cabinet Secretary has taken a particular interest in the sector and has been recognised nationally and internationally for the leadership and drive provided to the programme of support for the sector.”

Fraser Kelly is a member of the Supporting Social Enterprise Alliance which comprises Social Enterprise Scotland, Social Firms Scotland and Senscot. He said:

"Social enterprise in Scotland is fortunate to operate within a uniquely supportive business environment A political commitment to putting citizens first is now offering social enterprise a crucial role in the design and delivery of public services.

"Operating across every business sector, and throughout the length and breadth of Scotland, social enterprise is already making a significant contribution to Scotland’s economy whilst helping in the creation of a more socially just country".

Karin Lindgård, Deputy Director of Husbanken East said:

“When Husbanken visited Edinburgh in September 2013 to learn more about the social enterprise environment in Scotland, we greatly appreciated the willingness everyone showed to share their knowledge.

“We believe that it is possible for us to leapfrog forward from our current position in Norway, and are excited to think this might be possible through finding future collaborative projects through which we can further develop our competence regarding the potential of social enterprise in the housing sector.”

Notes to editors

Mr Swinney will speak at the Ferd conference on Social Entrepreneurship in Oslo, Norway on 13 February.

Ferd is a family-owned Norwegian industrial and financial group with extensive involvement in social entrepreneurship.

Husbanken is the Norwegian State Housing Bank - the main agency implementing Norwegian housing policy on the national level.

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