Eight ambitious social enterprises gear up to scale as they secure a place in Scotland’s social enterprise accelerator

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

The start-ups selected include a farming academy; a gym and wellbeing service for parents; a zero-waste retailer and wholesaler; a riding school supporting hard to reach groups; a support and training programme for women starting businesses; a community permaculture farm in Arran; a hair salon providing training and employment opportunities to young people; and an environmental consultancy delivering waste management, recycling and food production services.

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; tour company Invisible Cities and sandwich-shop chain Social Bite.

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport said:

This is the fifth intake into LaunchMe and, as with every previous round, we have been impressed and excited by the quality and ambition of the social enterprises that have applied. In the coming months, we will support these eight exciting propositions to get investment ready and connect them with our pool of social investors, so they can secure the capital they need to achieve their plans.

LaunchMe participants from previous rounds have raised over £1mil from private investment along with £1mil of institutional and grant co-investment. We cannot wait to see what these participants go on to achieve!

Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government, said:

Social enterprises are a vital part of our community and economy. They have a distinctive character and often play a role in preserving vital services such as community shops and transport, and creating employment opportunities.

The Scottish Government is delighted to continue our support to Firstport, and the LaunchMe programme. These eight exciting, innovative schemes will work across a range of social issues and areas of business, across the country. I look forward to seeing them grow and thrive.

Margaret McSporran, Head of Social Enterprise Development at HIE, said:

It is fantastic that social enterprises from the region have been selected to participate in LaunchMe. With 1,270 social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands and continuing to grow, they all have an important role in shaping rural communities including those facing population decline. We look forward to seeing how LaunchMe investment helps them develop projects and deliver a range of benefits for their rural community.

Stuart Brown, Head of SME Scotland at Barclays, said:

Social enterprises are an increasingly important part of the economy, and they are bringing unique benefits to local communities right across the country. Barclays is passionate about supporting their growth, and we’re pleased to be working with Firstport and the LaunchMe programme to build on its continued success

To find out more about the participants and the programme, visit our LaunchMe page and check out our case studies. The next round of LaunchMe will open for applications later this year.

  • Brave, Strong, Beautiful, CIC, Edinburgh – A hair salon supporting young people into employment through training and work placements.
  • Eat, Sleep, Ride CIC, Eyemouth – This riding school provides equine therapy and skills based training for people living with mental health and physical disabilities, addiction issues or those facing poverty and deprivation.
  • The Eco Larder CIC, Edinburgh – A zero-waste retailer and wholesaler aiming to reduce single use packaging and raise awareness with consumers on how to live a zero-waste lifestyle.
  • Farmer Jones Academy CIC, Tain – It provides industry-specific training and development courses to secondary school pupils with the aim to create positive destinations for young people within the Food & Drink sector.
  • Smart Gym CIC, Glasgow – A fitness & wellbeing service formed by parents, for parents. It aims to make exercise achievable, accessible and affordable for mums and dads.
  • Sustainable Thinking Scotland CIC, Falkirk – Environmental social enterprise delivering projects that encourages local sustainable food production and provides community-scale green waste recycling.
  • Women Business Station CIC, Dundee – The Women’s Business Station aims to be “The first stop to the best start” for women looking to start, build or grow a business in Scotland.
  • Woodside Arran Farm CIC, Isle of Arran – The farm aims to establish a diverse local food network for the island that includes organic growing techniques, permaculture principles and regenerative agricultural practices.