A three year contract to develop and promote social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands has been won by The Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone Community Interest Company (HISEZ CIC).
The contract which has been awarded by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will help deliver the Scottish Government’s new strategy – ‘Better business: a strategy and action plan for social enterprise in Scotland’.
Under the contract HISEZ CIC will promote and support the growth of social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands region. This will include providing expert encouragement and support to social enterprises with real potential as well as bringing them together to share ideas. Common forms of social enterprise – which aim to benefit society through trading – include credit unions, community co-operatives, housing associations, development trusts and social firms.
HISEZ CIC aims to provide start up support and advice on income generation, procurement, representation and promotion for social enterprise clients and help them to plan for growth.
Anne Macdonald, development manager at HIE said: “The contribution social enterprises make to the lives of people in the Highlands and Islands is significant and research suggests this sector is as important to the area as tourism. HISEZ CIC will help social enterprises and groups across the area breathe new life into some of our most disadvantaged areas, and establish a regional network of social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands.”
HISEZ CIC will also undertake information gathering and distribution, maintain the credibility of the social enterprise sector, work in partnership with others in the social economy and influence and advise policy and decision makers.
Recently appointed chief executive of HISEZ CIC Brian Weaver said: “I am sure there are many ideas and opportunities in communities throughout the Highlands and Islands that could benefit from some intervention and quality advice from HISEZ CIC. I would encourage people to get in touch with us or check our website for further information about how to take these forward.”
Recently a HISEZ CIC adviser worked with a renewable energy social enterprise company in Skye to identify sources of finance for drying facilities for wood chips, as well as helping it with a grid connection survey for a community wind turbine complex.
The Speyside Trust which provides a service to people with disabilities also received advice through HISEZ CIC on the best way to implement an online booking and customer management system for its Badaguish Outdoor Centre in the Cairngorms.
HISEZ CIC also advised the management team of a care home in Invergordon about a community led buy-out of the facility which caters for up to 16 vulnerable people with long term mental health issues.
Anyone with an established or aspiring social enterprise, a business idea, or wants to know more about social enterprise in the Highlands and Islands should log on to www.hisez.co.uk or call 01463 715533.