Seven ambitious social enterprises secure place on social enterprise accelerator

Seven social entrepreneurs from across the country have been announced as the latest participants in LaunchMe, Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator.

The start-ups selected include a skin and healthcare products company; a gardening service; a community café and catering company; a photography agency; a walking tour company; a cleaning agency and a community centre in Argyll & Bute.

Delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise start-up agency, LaunchMe supports ambitious social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and directly connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. In addition to initial seed funding, selected participants have the opportunity to apply for grant funding as co-investment to match any private investment they secure during the programme. 

LaunchMe is supported by the Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Barclays bank. Previous participants include well-known social enterprises such as Locavore, Scotland’s first social enterprise supermarket; retailer the Scottish Design Exchange; and sandwich-shop chain Social Bite.

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “We are delighted to announce the latest LaunchMe cohort today. 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.

LaunchMe has already helped secure over £1million from private investors and the interest in this type of investment continues to rise. We cannot wait to see what these participants go on to achieve!”

Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said: “Our partnership with Firstport provides economic benefit through start-up social enterprises, and also a sense of pride and place for local communities. Social entrepreneurs, such as the seven participating in the next LaunchMe programme, are essential to building more resilient, connected communities where people can feel valued.

We will continue to support and encourage this vital lifeline to some of the most vulnerable in society – transforming lives and helping people reach their potential.”

Anne MacDonald, Head of Social Enterprise at HIE, said: “It’s fantastic that Ardchattan Community Centre has been selected to participate in LaunchMe.  We look forward to seeing how our investment helps them develop their project and deliver a range of benefits for their rural community.”

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. Entrepreneurs play a crucial role in the success of the Scottish economy and our involvement with the LaunchMe programme reflects the ongoing commitment from Barclays.”

The seven selected enterprises are:

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

Invisible Cities, Edinburgh. A guide tour company training people affected by homelessness to become walking tour 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, Argyll & Bute. A new vibrant centre aiming to celebrate and promote the history, heritage and culture of the area and inspire people of all ages to move to and live in the area

Falkirk Cleaning Academy, Falkirk. A new social enterprise led by Falkirk Football Community Foundation (FFCF), with the aim of creating a supported business cleaning company

Mbikudi Ltd, Glasgow. A social enterprise specialised in the production of organic and natural hair and skin products handmade with love in the UK

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

To find out more about the participants and the programme, visit www.firstport.org.uk/launchme.

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