Social enterprises joining accelerator programme

Seven social entrepreneurs have been announced as the latest to take part in an accelerator programme for ambitious start-ups looking to scale up and boost their social impact – and whose previous participants include homeless-focused Social Bite.

Representatives from each of the seven organisations selected. Picture: contributed.

Social enterprises aim to generate profit used for good, and LaunchMe has unveiled its latest list:

Glasgow’s Well-Fed Scotland, a community café, takeaway, delivery service and corporate catering company tackling food poverty and social isolation in some of the city’s most deprived communities;

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Edinburgh-based Invisible Cities, a tour guide company training people affected by homelessness to become walking guides of their own city;

The Open Ayes agency, Glasgow. A visual communication agency providing positive visual storytelling services for social change;

Ardchattan Community Centre in Argyll & Bute, a new centre aiming to celebrate and promote the history, heritage and culture of the area and inspire people to live there;

Falkirk Cleaning Academy, which is led by Falkirk Football Community Foundation, with the aim of creating a supported business cleaning company;

Mbikudi, which operates from Glasgow and specialises in the production of organic and natural hair and skin products handmade in the UK;

Lastly, there is Hunter Community Enterprises in East Kilbride, a garden maintenance, horticultural and landscaping services social enterprise developing employability skills for those facing barriers to employment.

LaunchMe is delivered by Firstport – Scotland’s development agency for start-up social entrepreneurs and social enterprise – and it gets organisations investment-ready, directly connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns.

In addition to initial seed funding, selected participants can apply for grant funding as co-investment to match any private investment they secure during the programme.

LaunchMe is backed by the Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise, and lender Barclays. Previous participants include Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket Locavore; letting agency Homes for Good; and the Scottish Design Exchange as well as sandwich shop chain Social Bite.

Firstport chief executive Josiah Lockhart said: “The seven selected enterprises have been working hard over the last few months to prove they have what it takes to realise their commercial and social impact potential. In the coming months, we will support them to get investment-ready and connect them with our pool of social investors, so they can gain the capital they need to achieve their plans. We cannot wait to see what these participants go on to achieve.”

Since 2014, LaunchMe has helped 22 social enterprises to grow and increase their impact, 13 of which have gone on to raise more than £1 million of private investment.

Stuart Brown, head of SME Scotland at Barclays, said: “LaunchMe provides a fantastic opportunity for social enterprises to get the support they need to grow and develop, and we’re excited to help them along the journey.”