Each year Social Enterprise Scotland launches and organises the annual Social Enterprise Awards Scotland, a unique opportunity for all social enterprises throughout our urban and rural communities to stand up and be counted and to celebrate their many achievements.
Social enterprises are a unique type of business. They profit society. They’re diverse and they include many types and models, from co-operatives to housing associations, community interest companies (CICs) and enterprising charities. They work in food and drink, homelessness, regeneration, technology, media, the arts and much more.
But why do we have awards for social enterprises? What’s their purpose? What makes these awards different? Of course every industry, sector, specialist profession, club and society has awards. Everywhere you go there’s an awards ceremony taking place! But what these awards are really celebrating is a fundamentally different approach to how we do business, a long-term and radical reshaping of society that benefits everyone.
The awards help raise the profile of all social enterprises and market individual winners, they recognise real successes and business innovation, give a boost to those who may feel undervalued and give a sense of unity and solidarity for our business community. The awards celebrate social enterprises and give them a break from the challenging day job, allowing them to take a step back and appreciate their achievements. The awards are a reminder that we’re all building social enterprise together – and that we’re going forward and making progress.
Fraser Kelly, chief executive, Social Enterprise Scotland, said: “We believe that, eventually, all businesses will be social enterprises. As awareness increases, people from all walks of life will expect it to be the normal way of doing business. All businesses must transform themselves, to benefit people and the environment as the core purpose of their activities.
“The Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2015 is a prime opportunity for diverse social enterprises of all types to step up and be counted and show us how they’re changing Scotland’s economy and society. We urge all social enterprises to apply.”
Audrey Carlin of Wasps Studios, winners of Social Enterprise of the Year 2014, says that winning an award is not just about the trophy: “The recognition the award has given Wasps on a national level has been incredible and it has opened new doors for us as an organisation. We’d urge all Scottish social enterprises to put themselves forward for the awards this year.”
When it comes to the 2015 awards we’re encouraging all Scottish social enterprises to enter but we’re particularly encouraging others who haven’t entered before to take part too. Those who perhaps don’t self-identify as a social enterprise, are taking tentative steps away from a traditional charity model or aren’t even aware that they are a social enterprise.
Craig Sanderson, chief executive of national social housing provider Link Group, is a previous winner of both Scottish and UK Social Enterprise of the Year: “Since Link was formed in 1962, We’ve been honoured many times in the past but are particularly proud of these awards as they recognise not only our social impact but also our entrepreneurial and innovative approach to meeting a whole range of challenges. We very much identify as a social enterprise.”
You also don’t have to be a social enterprise to enter some of the awards.
There are categories for supporters, promoters and market builders of social enterprise too.
There are awards for new and inventive start ups, the best social investment deal, young people, health and social care and consumer-facing social enterprises, plus others.
As Social Enterprise Scotland and partners move forward with the development of social enterprise in every local community, the annual awards are a key part of recognising the very best progressive businesses. Alongside the new, national ten-year sector-led strategy for the social enterprise community and the soon-to-be-released, comprehensive research into the scale and scope of the sector, we can look forward to exciting times ahead.
Enter the Social Enterprise Awards Scotland 2015 now and share the information with all your social enterprise contacts.
• Duncan Thorp is policy and communications officer, Social Enterprise Scotland www.socialenterprisescotland.org.uk