Firstport, Scotland’s support agency for start-up social entrepreneurs has today published its new strategy Increasing social impact through entrepreneurship. With a focus on boosting its capacity to support the growing interest in social enterprise, Firstport will invest in staff and technology to prepare for growth, as well as open a trading subsidiary.
Over the last few years, Firstport has seen an exponential increase in the demand for its services, with an average of 3-4 budding social entrepreneurs from across Scotland accessing its services every day. In 2018 alone 1135 ideas received support across its programmes, £925,700 were awarded in seed funding, and six enterprises in its accelerator programme raised £653K of growth investment, all these figures are up from previous years. Well-known ideas that have passed through its doors include Glasgow Locavore, Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket, sandwich shop chain Social Bite and Hey Girls, a social enterprise which uses a ‘buy-one-give-one’ model to fight period poverty in the UK.
Using five principles to guide its strategic direction, Firstport will open a trading subsidiary, invest in and upskill staff to become more data-driven, build flexibility in its programmes of support, work more collaboratively with organisations across sectors, and better equip social entrepreneurs for a digital future.
Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are delighted to publish and share our new strategy. It is an exciting time for social enterprise as it is no longer confined to the fringes of the business sector or the economy but is increasingly seen as a vital partner in creating a fairer, more prosperous and inclusive Scotland.
Our experience, backed up with data from our programmes, shows that demand for our services is growing and the makeup of Scottish social entrepreneurs is evolving, which requires a style shift in how we engage with and support entrepreneurs driven by a desire to generate social impact. We want to give these individuals the best possible start in their journey and our new strategy will set us on the right path to do just that.”
An example of this new collaboratively approach is the latest iteration of What if…, Firstport’s place-based programme inspiring local people to develop social enterprise ideas that tackle challenges in a local area. Having delivered it in Girvan, South Ayrshire, for the last three years, the programme will run in an urban setting for the first time from April 2019. What if…North Edinburgh is a partnership between Firstport, the City of Edinburgh’s Business Gateway and local organisations in the north of the city, bringing together a unique mix of national, local and hyper-local organisations to support social enterprise ideas in a community.
The full report is available on the Firstport website http://www.firstport.org.uk/about-firstport