IN RECENT years, Scotland’s social investment market has gone from strength to strength. Not only has demand for investment from the third sector increased, but so has the availability of funding through vehicles such as the Social Growth Fund and LaunchMe.
At a time when economic commentary has wavered between pessimism and cautious optimism, the social economy has continued its upward trajectory of growth.
Many factors are at play here, but one in particular – social investment fund managers and lenders have realised the need to demonstrate the business case for social investment.
This week marks the publication of Social Investment Scotland(SIS)’s third annual Social Impact Report, providing firm evidence of the positive impact our investment makes both for our customers and the communities in which they serve.
The report and underlying analysis have been a game changer for SIS. Not only can we demonstrate the benefits of investment to our customers, but we can provide our investors with confidence and assurance that their investments are producing measurable returns.
In the last year our customers have sustained more than 1,300 jobs and generated a turnover of nearly £50 million; 66 per cent reported an increased turnover on the previous year and 73 per cent anticipate further increases in the year ahead. What’s more, 30 per cent of customers are reporting no grant funding, rising from 19 per cent in 2013 and 12 per cent in 2012.
So what can be done to continue supporting the growth of the social economy? The responsibility lies partly with organisations like ours, to not only help third sector organisations understand the benefits of funding and help prepare them to take on funding, but to work with them to understand their needs so that we can jointly develop the best types of funding to help them achieve their objectives and deliver increased social impact.
But most importantly, it’s incumbent upon our sector as a whole to continue demonstrating the hugely positive impact that social investment can have on the everyday lives of communities and people across Scotland.
• Alastair Davis is chief executive of Social Investment Scotland