Just Enterprise: Business support for social enterprises. Funded by Scottish Government & delivered by a consortium of 10 organisations with sector expertise.
The programme has been operating since 2011 and is the 1st national business support service in Scotland to drive the sustainability, growth and competitiveness of social enterprises. The service addresses a recognised need to support the business ambitions of social enterprises. The primary business support ecosystem for start-up, established and high growth businesses across Scotland is managed through 2 national economic development agencies and a network of local authority business providers forming the Business Gateway network. While it is still accessible to social enterprises, there was a need for a specialised & complementary service sympathetic to the unique challenges & barriers experienced by third sector organisations. JE was therefore created to support financial resilience & sustainability, identify growth potential, and provide assistance to social entrepreneurs in the Third Sector. It offers higher level interventions responsive to client need alongside workshops, awareness raising & signposting. Each delivery partner has key expertise in, and responsibility for, different areas of service delivery. This includes wide geographical & rural coverage to ensure effective, consistent & widespread reach. Motives for social enterprises using the service include skills development, business growth, sustainability, start-up, increased trading, product/service development and leadership. Greater integration with mainstream agencies locally & nationally is ongoing.

Resources needed

For the first 6 full years of service delivery by Just Enterprise, (2011-2017) Scottish Government expenditure has been approximately £6m. A lead partner is responsible for the contract management with Scottish Government, and manages the relationships with each of the 9 other delivery partners.

Evidence of success

6,697 individuals from 4,684 organisations have received 10,022 instances of support from 2011 – 2017. Evaluation shows direct benefits are rated highly with over 80% of recipients believing the support received has had a positive effect on their organisation. These ratings are particularly strong from beneficiaries of the Leadership support. This example of a consortium model of delivery demonstrates the value of social enterprise alliances & targeted access to support for the sector.

Potential for learning or transfer

This service is an innovative partnership approach by the sector for the sector. Supported by Scottish Government, financially and strategically, it provides an offering that is demand-led and continues to introduce flexibility in its delivery over the last 6 years. It offers a mixture of high volume workshops and support mixed with more specialist, bespoke interventions, continually revising its service to respond to critical areas of demand. The introduction of a business support service targeting social enterprises is a positive addition to the wider Scottish ecosystem with ambitions to continue improving integration between mainstream business support and sector specific delivery. It contributes significantly to more cohesive engagement between local and national partners, providing a gateway to locally based networks (egg Scotland’s regional social enterprise networks and local authority economic development specialists), and maintaining dialogue with national support agencies.

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Main institution
Scottish Government
Eastern Scotland, United Kingdom
Start Date
April 2011
End Date


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