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Press release

Queen Margaret University Boost to Business with a Social Purpose

Edinburgh, 15 June 2010; Queen Margaret University (QMU) will tomorrow (Wednesday 16 June) host a gathering of colleges and universities from across Scotland to share knowledge and identify action to promote and develop social enterprise - businesses with a social or environmental purpose. With contributions from some of Scotland's most successful social enterprises, the event will help to develop thinking and identify action to boost this ever growing and important business sector.

Led by Susan Deacon, Professor of Social Change at Queen Margaret University and former MSP and Scottish Government Minister, the event will recognise the contribution social enterprise can make both to positive social change and sustainable economic growth.

Mel Young, founder of the Big Issue in Scotland, President of the Homeless World Cup and one of Scotland’s leading social entrepreneurs, will deliver the keynote speech to an invited audience including academics, students, social entrepreneurs and government representatives.

Professor Susan Deacon said; “There has never been a more important time for people and organisations to work together to build both a better society and a stronger economy. Across the country social enterprises are growing in strength and number, providing valuable employment opportunities and making an enormous contribution to society. Universities and colleges have a key role to play – through research, teaching and student placement and support - in supporting the development of social enterprise in Scotland. This event, the first of its kind, is a tremendous opportunity to allow social entrepreneurs, policy makers and academics to learn from each other and together make a real difference in the future.”

The event is funded by the Scottish Government as part of its ‘Enterprising Third Sector Action Plan’. Queen Margaret University is one of seven colleges and universities who are participating in a national pilot to promote and support social enterprise.

There are around 3,000 social enterprises in Scotland at different stages of development, from small start-up enterprises to well-established businesses with multi-million pound turnovers. The turnover of these businesses has been calculated at over £1 billion a year. The sector employs around 21,000 with an additional 18,500 volunteers. In the UK, there are 62,000 social enterprises, contributing £24billion to the UK economy.  


For information contact Maggie Wright on 0131 226 3622 or 07801 710360


1. Background

The State of Social Enterprise Survey 2009' was commissioned by the Social Enterprise Coalition with fieldwork carried out by CELLO mruk research.

The survey found that despite the recession, social enterprises are twice as confident of future growth as  typical small to medium enterprises (SMEs), with 48% of social enterprises responding positively as opposed to just 24% of SMEs.

Additionally, since the economic downturn began, 56% have increased their turnover from the previous year whilst less than 20% have seen it go down. This is a considerably better performance than SMEs in the UK, where only 28% increased their turnover and 43% saw it go down.

The survey also found that social enterprises challenge the glass ceiling: 26% of social enterprises could be described as ‘women-led' - almost twice as many compared to small businesses (26% compared to 14%).  Furthermore, 41.1% of all board members are women, compared to just 11.7% of board members in FTSE 100 companies and 4.9% in AIM-listed companies.  

The Survey also identified some clear divergence between the Scottish and UK social enterprise market. In particular...

  • 18% of Social Enterprises in the UK are focused on training and employment service provision only 10% in Scotland are. However 21% of Scottish social enterprises are involved in retail compared to  12% across the UK.
  • 77% of Scottish Social Enterprises operate in rural areas compared with only 59% across the UK.
  • the average income in Scotland for Social Enterprises in Scotland  is  £838,333  compared with £1,353,899  across the UK.


  • The McSence Group (Brian Tannerhill, Founder and Chief Executive)
  • Social Enterprise at Dundee International Women’s Centre (Pervin Ahmed, Executive Officer)
  • Kibble Education and Care Centre (Graham Bell, Chief Executive and Lesley Fuller, Funding, Marketing and Communications Officer)
  • Impact Arts (Rachael Arnold, Director)
  • Aberdeen Foyer (Ken Milroy, Chief Executive)
  • The Melting Pot (Verity Leigh, General Manager)
  • Recycle Fife (Frank Hodge, Operations Director)
  • Supporting Students Developing Social Enterprise – Jeremy Roebuck & Nick Fannin, Edinburgh Napier University
  • Social Enterprise to Support Students with Additional Support Needs - Stephen Edgar, Aberdeen College
  • Providing practical education and skills to develop Social Enterprise - Hamish Dingwall & John Connell, Glasgow Caledonian University
  • Research and Social Enterprise - Professor Colin Mason & Dr Elsa Joao, University of Strathclyde
  • Creativity and Socio-Economic Development - Malida Mooken, University of Stirling
  • Social Enterprise in Rural and Remote Areas Supporting Older People - Dr Sarah-Anne Munoz, UHI Millennium Institute
  • Use of Drama in a Social Context - Irvine Allan, Queen Margaret University


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