Social enterprises often need support to get off the ground – financial support, staff training, and advice from other social entrepreneurs. Some can even benefit from time in an incubator designed to help the staff learn the most effective ways to grow a business as they’re doing so. Firstport is a charitable organization that provides all of these things for start-up social enterprises in Scotland. Check them out at https://www.firstport.org.uk/.
Firstport opened its doors in 2007. As part of the Scotland Can Do network, Firstport is part of Scotland’s ecosystem of support for people and organizations that want to start a social enterprise. It offers social entrepreneurs a comprehensive selection of support options.
Currently, Firstport offers five forms of funding for social enterprise start-ups:
Pounds for Purpose –> For social entrepreneurs aged 16 – 26 with an idea that will positively impact their community. 500 pounds.
Social Entrepreneurs Fund – Start It –> Start-up funding for a business idea that addresses a social, environmental, and/or community issue. 5000 pounds.
Social Entrepreneurs Fund – Build It –> For individuals who have tried and tested an idea and want to turn it into a full-time job. Up to 25 000 pounds for living costs.
Social Entrepreneurs Fund – Boost It –> A fund to strengthen social enterprises that have been trading for up to three years so that they can keep trading. Up to 50 000 pounds as a repayable grant.
Catalyst Fund –> A fund offering loans to social enterprises looking for a significant amount of social investment that can’t access funding any other way. Repayable loans of at least 50 000.
Social Innovation Competition –> Annual competition offering financial prizes to ground-breaking ideas designed to solve Scotland’s environmental and/or social issues. 3 prizes of 5000 pounds.
You can find more information about Firstport’s funding options here –> https://www.firstport.org.uk/funding/
Every business can benefit from support to grow into the best that it can be. Firstport offers several forms of business support to Scottish social enterprises:
Incubators –> Firstport can help social entrepreneurs access two social enterprise incubators. LaunchMe serves all of Scotland, and the Social Enterprise Growth Accelerator serves Glasgow-based businesses.
Training and Workshops –> Although no online workshops appear to be scheduled for 2022 at this point, in 2021 Firstport ran online webinars on topics of interest to all business owners: Governance, Finance, Legal, Marketing, Market Research, Planning, Cashflow, SWOT Analysis, Mission and Objectives, and Bookkeeping, among others.
One-to-One, Group Advice –> Firstpoint’s Just Enterprise program sets social enterprise owners up with either a coach or a small group to talk through the issues and questions involved with starting and growing a social enterprise.
What If…North Edinburgh –> The What If…North Edinburgh program is an in-person support for social enterprise owners in the area, providing advice, funding, and access to events.
The Firstpoint site also has an extensive Resource library.
Scottish readers…definitely check Firstport out and pass the website along to a friend who wants to open a social enterprise!