Eight ambitious social enterprises - ranging from Scotland’s first all-female construction company to a project tackling dementia by language teaching - went through a rigorous selection process, including pitches to a high-profile expert panel, to be chosen for the unique programme.
Delivered by social enterprise development agency Firstport and funded by the Big Lottery Fund Scotland, with additional support from the Scottish Government, LaunchMe supports the most ambitious, early stage social enterprises to achieve scale, by getting them investment ready and connecting them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns. In addition to initial seed funding of up to £25,000, participants can also apply for funding of up to £100,000 to match any investment they secure during the three-year programme.
The only programme of its kind in Scotland, LaunchMe has already helped 14 social enterprises on their mission to scale up, secure investment and increase their social impact. The programme has attracted the attention of the Scottish angel investor community and has successfully brokered a number of investment deals worth over £500,000, bringing the total amount of funding raised to over £1 million.
The successful enterprises are:
- The Workshop, Aberfeldy
- No1 Befriending Agency, Glasgow
- Lingo Flamingo, Glasgow
- Scottish Design Exchange, Edinburgh
- Building Futures, Glasgow
- South Ayrshire Community Transport
- KLAS Care, Renfrewshire
- Vox Liminis, Glasgow
Some of the enterprises that have benefitted from the programme previously include Social Bite, a sandwich shop chain that helps the homeless, Breadshare, a community bakery in Edinburgh, and Inverness Kart Raceway, an indoor go-karting arena supporting disadvantaged young people into employment.
Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: "We are excited to reveal our latest amazing group of social entrepreneurs with the vision and ambition to change Scotland for the better. Over the last two years, we have shown that social enterprises have the potential to achieve scale and bring about more social and economic benefits to communities across Scotland.
"In addition, the programme’s unique way of using grant funding to leverage investment has successfully attracted a number of social investors, pioneering new ways of financing a social return. We have introduced the entrepreneurs to new investors who were previously unaware of social enterprise and helped them develop long-term relationships beyond the programme’s lifetime."
Barry Sealey, who co-founded the Archangels business angels syndicate, invested £15,000 in LaunchMe participant Delivered Next Day Personally (DNDP) in his first move into the world of social investment. DNDP, a courier company based in East Kilbride enables people with disabilities to become self-employed by allowing them to work flexible hours.
Mr Sealey said: "I was a business angel for 20 years investing in young companies so I know about small businesses. The idea of applying this experience to the social world appealed to me. As an angel investor I have been putting something back into the economy, but the social return is more of an incentive for me. Applying good commercial principles to tackle important social problems is so much better than looking for charity money."
Martin Cawley, Big Lottery Fund Scotland Director, said: "Thanks to National Lottery players, LaunchMe has, over the last three years, supported a range of fantastic early stage enterprises to realise their ambitions. I am delighted that the Scottish Government are also joining us in supporting this initiative, which will further strengthen its impact and enable a brand new cohort of organisations to scale up and increase their social impact. I look forward to following their progress as they go on to achieve lasting benefits for people and communities in Scotland."
- LaunchMe was launched in 2014 and is delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise development agency. Firstport provides free business advice and financial support to individuals who want to start a business which will help people and communities.
- A social enterprise is a trading concern that operates in the business place, but places social or environmental aims at the core of its ethos. For example, it could work with disadvantaged volunteers on placement, collect materials for recycling or aim to improve the health of the community. Profits are typically reinvested back into the business to grow the social or environmental aims.
- Social investment refers to repayable finance that is intended to stimulate both financial and social returns.
- LaunchMe is an initiative of the Big Lottery Fund, designed to grow the social investment market in Scotland.