Scots social enterprises scoop funding after intensive Dundee course

Two social enterprises have secured funding after being crowned victors of an intensive 12-week training programme in Dundee.

The Circle Academy's Kara Swankie (right) with prize winner Tony O'Neill. Picture: Contributed
The Circle Academy's Kara Swankie (right) with prize winner Tony O'Neill. Picture: Contributed

Tony O’Neill, founder of Glasgow-based sportswear brand Animalia Apparel and young person support venture Animalia, and John Alexander, MD of Alexander Decorators, a Dundee firm setting up a social enterprise to train young people in the trade, presented winning pitches at the final event of The Circle Academy – a “first-of-its-kind” programme to support ventures using their profits for social benefit.

The duo shared the prize, which consisted of funds that all seven participating entrepreneurs had brought in through income-generating tasks during the scheme.

The academy aims to help entrepreneurs establish and grow “more than profit” organisations to become sustainable, providing resources, office space, training, peer-to-peer learning, mentoring and simulated board meetings.

It culminated with an audience judging the two entrants with the best pitches at a final event.

The Circle Academy manager Kara Swankie, a former Commonwealth power-lifting gold medallist who has set up and sold two businesses, said: “The transformation that I’ve seen with the candidates has been phenomenal. Many of the candidates began the course with most of their focus on their social impact over financial sustainability.

“To see them then be able to pitch their plans with an emphasis on how they can make their organisation sustainable was amazing.”

The Circle is now accepting applications for its second academy cohort.

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