The Social Entrepreneurs Fund turns 15

This March, we celebrate 15 years since we first launched the Social Entrepreneurs Fund (SEF). To mark this milestone, we are featuring five social enterprises that got started with the help of a SEF award.

SEF is a Scottish Government-funded programme that started in 2009 to encourage entrepreneurs to bring their ideas forward and turn them into social enterprises. SEF has seen the success of Firstport awards including grant funding and investment through Pounds for Purpose, Start It, Build It, Boost It and the Social Innovation Challenge.

The awards offered through SEF start at £500 and go up to £50,000, supporting people to make their social enterprise aspirations a reality. Since 2009, SEF has made 1,181 awards and distributed £10,131,176 million across Scotland.

Meet five social enterprises who have gone on to make significant changes in their communities with the help of SEF.

Bayile from Dechomai
Bayile Adeoti from Dechomai

Dechomai was founded by Managing Director Bayile Adeoti who recognised the gap in the market for fostering entrepreneurship for black and ethnic minority communities. Dechomai empowers black and ethnic minority individuals with leadership and enterprise skills through a range of programmes including business incubation, mentorship and coaching, apprenticeships and events, and has seen huge success.

They received Start It and Boost It through SEF, and Bayile Adeoti was recently recognised as part of the WISE100 Women in Social Enterprise 2024. Follow Dechomai on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube and X (Twitter).

Hey Girls CIC was started by Celia Hodson. They produce environmentally friendly period products that fund the fight to end UK period poverty. You may recognise their period products from public toilets across Scotland. They believe access to period products and education is a right, not a privilege and they work closely with businesses, government, and industry leaders to end period poverty, having made over 30 million donations to date.

Hey Girls CIC have been highly commended including winning the Social Enterprise of the Year award at the Social Enterprise Scotland Awards 2022. They received both Start It and Build It awards through SEF. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

Susan Aktemel from Homes for Good

Homes for Good is a unique letting agency founded by Executive Director Susan Aktemel. They own and manage properties and are passionate about the impact homes have on people’s lives. Homes for Good is Scotland’s only private sector lettings agency specialising in providing homes for people on low incomes or benefits. They have over 500 properties under management and work with around 130 landlords and 800 tenants in and around Glasgow and the West of Scotland.

Homes for Good has won a number of awards including being crowned the Gold Award Winner at the World Habitat Awards last year. They received Start It and Build It through SEF. Follow Homes for Good on Facebook, LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

Social Bite, co-founded by Josh Littlejohn, began life as a small coffee shop in Edinburgh in 2012. They have since expanded their coffee shops and programmes, where they foster employment opportunities for homeless people. Social Bites’ coffee shops have a ‘Pay It Forward’ system, and they offer Christmas meals, as well as housing support in Scotland. They typically provide over 180,000 items of food and hot drinks every year through their network of coffee shops. They have also secured millions of pounds in donations through their sleep-outs.

They received Build It from SEF. Having received wide media coverage, they were most recently featured on the Scotland episode of Somebody Feed Phil on Netflix. Josh Littlejohn also released his book last year. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

Street Soccer Scotland was started by David Duke MBE, to create purpose, hope and relationships using football to support people on their journey to security and happiness. Their social enterprise is built on lived experience, many of their staff have faced the same issues and challenges as their football players. They run free informal football drop-in sessions and support programmes across Scotland for adults and young people. Street Soccer was an early awardee of SEF, having received Start It from us. 

David Duke recently spoke to The Big Issue about how his own troubled upbringing led to homelessness, and how he found redemption through football which led to him starting Street Soccer Scotland. Follow them on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and X (Twitter).

We are excited to see what these social enterprises do next and what the next 15 years of SEF will look like!

To learn about other social entrepreneurs that SEF has supported in the last 15 years, follow us on Facebook, Instagram and X (Twitter).