The Coalfields Regeneration Trust has launched a £75,000 search to identify would-be social entrepreneurs in East Ayrshire’s mining communities to give them a golden opportunity to turn their dreams into thriving businesses.
The Trust has enlisted the support of the Scottish School for Social Entrepreneurs to run a programme called Enterprising Solutions with the aim of creating up to 10 new social enterprise businesses.
Nicky Wilson, Scottish Trustee of the Coalfields Regeneration Trust said: “This initiative is part of our Strategic Intervention programme, which means we initiate programmes to develop communities, rather than wait for local organisations to come to us for support.
“In this case we believe that local people with local knowledge will come up with really exciting ideas to start up businesses which will put something back into their own communities.”
Mr Wilson added: “We expect the social enterprises that come out of this initiative to have a major impact by creating jobs, training opportunities, and generating income in former mining towns and villages all over East Ayrshire
Mr Wilson, himself a former miner said that the sky’s the limit when it comes to how far these social enterprises can grow.
He added: “A similar initiative in Fife helped two would be entrepreneurs, Frankie Hodge and Jackie Dunsmuir launch Recycle Fife in Lochgelly six years ago. They started with one small van and now employ 38 people with a turnover of £600,000 a year.”
Anyone over 18 with an idea for a social enterprise business, which will benefit local communities simply has to phone the Scottish School for Social Entrepreneurs, on 01592-780-568 and the team will explain how to enroll and arrange an interview in their local community.
The course itself will run for 9 months with 12 formal sessions at Yipworld in Cumnock, and intensive one to one sessions with business advisors for each of the successful candidates.
John Oates, of the Scottish School for Entrepreneurs said: “Our parent organisation BRAG, has a 20-year track record of regeneration activities, but recently we have been concentrating on helping social enterprises get off the ground.
“Similar courses in Fife, where we are based, have come up with all sorts of viable business – everything from Recycle Fife, to a rare breeds farm and an eco-build business.”
Mr Oates added: “Anyone with a social enterprise business idea can apply to join the programme. We are not looking for academic qualifications or previous business experience.
“We are looking for enthusiasm from anyone who has a good idea for a viable social enterprise and who can convince us that he or she is the right person to make it happen.
“We will support them for six to nine months to take their dream from a concept to a trading company, and help them get allowances to sustain their idea, and access to capital if needed.
“We are really looking forward to seeing what exciting and innovative ideas East Ayrshire comes up with.”
Note to Editors:
- Picture shows Frankie Hodge, driving a forklift, and sharing a joke with Nicky Wilson.
- The Coalfields Regeneration Trust was formed in 1999 to help mining communities recover from the devastating effects of pit closures. Since then the Trust has spent over £15m in Scotland supporting over 500 community-based and job creation projects in the hardest hit areas.
- Social enterprises are businesses driven by a social or environmental purpose. There are 62,000 of them in the UK, contributing over £24bn to the economy, employing approximately 800,000 people (2005-2007 data from the Annual Survey of Small Business UK).As with all businesses, they compete to deliver goods and services.
- The difference is that social purpose is at the very heart of what they do, and the profits they make are reinvested towards achieving that purpose. Well known examples of social enterprises include The Big Issue, Jamie Oliver's restaurant Fifteen, and the fair-trade chocolate company Divine Chocolate.