Pioneering business support group reaches out to world

The Social Enterprise Academy's Global Gathering event.
The Social Enterprise Academy's Global Gathering event.
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IT was founded in Scotland 14 years ago and has since helped almost 3,000 social enterprises to reach their full potential.

Now a pioneering organisation set up to support not-for-profit businesses north of the border is to roll out a franchise into more countries worldwide, including New Zealand and Pakistan.

The Social Enterprise Academy, which is funded by various bodies, including the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise, has also granted licences to partner organisations in Canada, Wales, Malawi, Zambia, South Africa, China, India, Malaysia and Australia.

Neil McLean, chief executive of Social Enterprise Academy, said: “Private businesses are able to invest in talent development and personal development for their staff. For organisations working for social change, leadership and entrepreneurship development are critical success factors, but are often unaffordable. The Academy offers a talent development department for all those who can’t afford the full cost of learning programmes. We can now offer opportunities for corporates and impact investors that recognise the essential value of personal development, to sponsor learning for people stepping up to make a difference, not only in Scotland, but around the world.”

A report into franchising the organisation, which has helped social enterprises including Zero Waste Scotland and Changeworks, said that the Academy “was in good shape to respond to international demand, recognising it had a global responsibility to share what it was doing, and learn from others in return.”

The Academy has created a Global Learning Lab, based in Edinburgh, which will be shared with all franchise partners across the globe.

Lara Friedman, head of the Learning Lab, said: “The Learning Lab is a catalyst of innovation across the network, and also provides quality assurance and accreditation of practice, linking with the Institute of Leadership and Management”.

“We have an international network of partners becoming sustainable in each country, we can begin to share innovations, examples and new ideas from each country.”

As well as working with small social enterprises, the organisation also engages with 1,200 learners each year in Scotland – a total of more than 15,000 people through 1,998 learning programmes since it started.

Its Social Enterprise in Schools programme, which sees youngsters work together to set up their own social enterprises from cafés to vegetable-growing businesses, has also now reached more than 1,000 schools in Scotland.