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Start Something Good Our impact 2009-2014

Welcome to a landmark report from Firstport

These testing circumstances have driven an even stronger interest in the concept of social entrepreneurship and its potential. We are now well placed to capitalise on this surge of interest. During the last five years we have supported 3,400 budding social entrepreneurs on their journey and helped to create two new social enterprises almost every week. We have a tried and tested support model that delivers real results. Now into 2014, a profoundly important year for public policy in Scotland, we are taking this opportunity to tell our story and share our learning. Who are the social entrepreneurs we help? What is their journey? What do they achieve? And how do we help them make a difference?



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£3m £ ££££ £












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For them, establishing an enterprise is a means to an end; that end being to tackle social problems, strengthen communities, improve people’s life chances, or protect the environment.






Social entrepreneurs are entrepreneurs with a social mission.







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of seedcorn funding invested in new social ventures in the last five years.

2 New

social enterprises established almost every week.

Take the first step setting up a social enterprise 3 individuals Towards Every day

Level 2 Build It

awards create 2.7 full-time jobs and have an average of

16 volunteers per social entrepreneur.


of ventures have set up a company

For every


£1 £1 we invest

of additional funding is secured.


66 £2.66


. £2

We hope that the evidence contained in this report will help ensure that social entrepreneurs take on an even greater significance over the next five years in Scottish society and public policy.

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This has been delivered against the background of a profoundly changed social and economic landscape. Economic challenges have consistently been to the fore over the last five years while the social problems facing Scotland are now more pressing than ever.

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This report comes five years on from the point at which we worked with the Scottish Government to create a groundbreaking joint funding programme for social entrepreneurs. This introduced the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, which in combination with existing Firstport business support, served to radically reshape and strengthen the support available to Scotland’s social entrepreneurs.

Key Facts



The Story So Far Firstport is the go-to organisation for Scotland’s social entrepreneurs. We were established in 2007 to help social entrepreneurs come forward and to make their ideas a reality. We do this by finding, encouraging and supporting individuals who want to set up develop and grow social enterprises.

Five years at Firstport

524 3,400

Our Outcomes Social entrepreneurs have increased skills and capacity to compete in a commercial environment. The pipeline of new-start social enterprises is stronger and more sustainable.

budding social entrepreneurs supported on their journey


of seed funding invested in new social ventures


the number of individuals taking the first step towards setting up a social enterprise.


the number of social enterprises we help establish just about every week.

per day

Start-up social enterprises have an increased presence and make a positive impact on the Scottish economy.

funding awards made to social entrepreneurs

Start-up social enterprises tackle a diverse range of social issues.

Staged Investment

Business Support

Level 1 - Start It Awards Some 83% of our awards are small grants of up to £5,000 which are used to help social entrepreneurs refine and test their concept, giving them a sense of the possibilities as well as a realistic understanding of its prospects.

All of our services to social entrepreneurs are underpinned by the availability of tailored business support. We have now worked with hundreds of emerging social entrepreneurs and start-up social enterprises.

Level 2 - Build It Awards Roughly 17% of our awards are for more substantial amounts of up to £25,000 to enable social entrepreneurs to fully commit to developing their social venture and to build its trading income and social impact.

In 2013 alone we responded to over 750 enquiries, provided one-to-one business support to more than 330 people, and delivered 40 workshops that involved 200 people. Firstport is now the sole provider of business support to early stage and start-up social enterprises across Scotland within the national Just Enterprise programme and sits at the heart of a network of complementary support services across Scotland.

We incubate new social ventures, taking them from a seed of an idea to start-up and sustained success. This requires our full package of business support, funding, training and practical tools. We are constantly challenging ourselves to find new and even more effective ways of supporting social entrepreneurs.

Start up funds

Some current initiatives The Founders Fund

Managing Funds

Things really kicked on for us five years ago when, with our partners UnLtd and the Scottish Government, we established a joint funding programme for social entrepreneurs.

We manage and invest funds targeted at social entrepreneurs and social enterprise start-ups.

Our growth and impact since then has been impressive. As an organisation the last five years have seen the staff team managed by Firstport grow from 4 to 10 and our activity grow exponentially in response to demand. Since 2009 we have responded to 3,400 enquiries from individuals thinking about setting up a social enterprise, most of which have gone on to access one-to-one business advice, telephone support, or training through the Just Enterprise programme.

We have invested £2.2m during the last five years on behalf of the Scottish Government in individuals wishing to form a new social enterprise. Millenium Awards Trust

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

We have invested £800,000 during the last five years in partnership with Unltd to support change-makers that are delivering social, economic and environmental change.

During the same period we have funded almost 400 social entrepreneurs and invested £3m in promising social ventures.


Named after our inspirational outgoing chairperson, this small and innovative crowdsourced fund provides seed funding to one promising young social entrepreneur each year.

Firstport Skills workshops

Pro bono support Evolve

Social Entrepreneurs Fund

Business advice


Business replication

An initiative bringing together teams of corporate volunteers and social enterprises to connect, share skills, and apply knowledge.

West Dunbartonshire Challenge Working with West Dunbartonshire Council to support and encourage the creation of social enterprises. The council has committed £45,000 per year over five years to establish new social enterprises in the area.

We deliver projects and programmes in partnership with others. Our key partnerships include: • • • • • • •

Scottish Government HISEZ Business Gateway Converge Challenge CEiS Resilient Scotland Senscot


• • • • • • •

UnLtd Social Investment Scotland Big Lottery Fund Scotland Imani Financial Solutions Social Enterprise Academy West Dunbartonshire Council Icecream Architecture



Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

Social franchising event with RBS

of funding allocated

Social Entrepreneurs Fund starts

enquiry for assistance


£3million of funding allocated



Worskshop programme initiated

Scotland’s Social Enterprise Accelerator

LaunchMe Accelerator programme begins

Ditto programme launched


Evolve event with 120 corporate volunteers



Evaluation of awards programme published


Age unlimited programme starts with NESTA

Founders Fund introduced

of funding allocated

grant award made


award made

Beyond the Finish Line programme introduced

iCAN launched with Young Start grant

100th grant award made


2010 6

Role commenced in national Just Enterprise programme



First Fine-Tuning event held


2014 7

Our Social Entrepreneurs People from all walks of life choose to become social entrepreneurs. Passion for a social issue combined with a positive and enterprising outlook on life are the only pre-requisites.

In the last year we have helped


The proportion of male and female social entrepreneurs that approach us is broadly 50:50. This contrasts with mainstream entrepreneurship where men outnumber women significantly.

budding social entrepreneurs on their journey.

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

Sylvia Douglas Venture: MsMissMrs Location: North Glasgow

A key factor in the success of social ventures is the qualities of social entrepreneur and the team and resources they are able to assemble. We find ourselves working most with social entrepreneurs aged 36-45 years (38%) who have significant life and work experience. However, we believe passionately in the potential for young social entrepreneurs to solve Scotland’s most intractable social problems – that’s why we launched iCAN.

We developed iCAN, thanks to a Big Lottery Fund ‘Young Start’ grant, to get young people aged 18-30 years old inspired and enthused about social enterprise. Through an intensive 3-week programme, young people develop confidence and entrepreneurial skills; gain practical work experience in a social enterprise; and generate, explore and pitch their own social enterprise idea. For those that want to take the next step there’s the potential to apply for seedcorn funding of up to £5k.

Our Typical Awardee:

Has social benefits at the heart of their idea

Sylvia’s social mission is to empower and support some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable women. She does this by delivering workshops that encourage self-care and improve self-esteem. At the same time she’s building a strong and sustainable social venture to help fund this work. This venture is generating a growing income from selling superhero-themed ‘empowerment pants’ made by the women that benefit from the initiative.

Many of the social entrepreneurs we work with are well educated, with many holding degrees (34%) or professional qualifications (25%). Regardless of educational background we often work intensively with people to foster the confidence and practical skills required to start and run a successful social venture.


Enterprising outlook

Aged 36-45 years Highest Density

Lowest Density


Our social entrepreneurs are located across the length and breadth of Scotland; cities, towns and rural communities. Although almost half (49%) are located in the densely populated central belt of Scotland, we have now supported social entrepreneurs in every local authority area.

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

Angela Fitzsimons Venture: iAmBikes Location: Cumbernauld

Angela is a social entrepreneur with a love for cycling. She spotted the opportunity to help encourage more people to enjoy cycling as a healthy, active pursuit. This has been realised through her social enterprise – iAmBikes – which now recycles bikes and puts them back into productive use (diverting waste from landfill) while creating volunteering, training and employment opportunities in the process.


The Social Entrepreneur’s Journey

There are a number of common stages in the development of a social venture. This is not a linear process and not all social entrepreneurs will go through all stages, or indeed want to.

Scaling or replication

The social entrepreneur’s journey begins before their venture exists!

Securing investment Building a team

Conceiving and developing the idea

Formalising and professionalising

Assembling resources Getting others interested Formal or informal planning

Motivation and inspiration

Piloting, testing and refining Delivering at a small scale to see if the idea works Learning what’s needed to deliver

Character and attributes Background and experiences

Doing everything yourself

Small scale sustainability Finding a business model that’s financially and personally sustainable Incremental growth and development

Venture stops running

These are options at any stage

Aim achieved Approach undertaken by mainstream service

But they don’t necessarily represent failure!

Business can’t be sustained

Social entrepreneur steps back Personal or financial circumstances change

Social entrepreneurs have widely differing backgrounds, skills and experiences But we think that at each stage there are some common experiences, success factors, and risks

Moves on to set up another venture

Original source: Unltd.



Conceiving and Developing In the early stages of any new social venture it’s all about getting others interested, planning a way forward, and assembling the resources. We encourage and support social entrepreneurs to bring forward all forms of ideas and ambitions. We’re often surprised by how diverse and creative their solutions are. In other cases there are individuals who would like to run their own social enterprise but just haven’t found the right idea – that’s where our Ditto programme comes in.


of ventures have set up a company

Ditto We established Ditto with the support of the Big Lottery Fund as a unique way of spreading good social enterprise ideas. Using private sector franchising and replication principles, Ditto brings together an off-the-shelf package of practical guidance, industry knowledge and financial advice complimented by business support. Ditto is being supported by Resilient Scotland throughout 2014. Early stage start-up funding is crucial. As well as the seed funding provided by Firstport, other funds are attracted to most ventures (64%). The personal commitment of social entrepreneurs is such that they also put in their money in two-in-every-five cases (41%). This all helps multiply the scale and effect of our investment.

Testing and Refining



of social ventures are registered as charities


For every £1 we invest, £2.66 of additional funding is secured.

Most of the ventures we support are first delivered on a very small scale to test the idea, learn from what works and what is needed. The process of testing and refining the idea is supported by our Level 1 - Start It awards and related support. This provides small-scale risk capital and ‘light touch’ support – just enough for our social entrepreneurs to get going. In all cases the social entrepreneurs need some sort of vehicle (the venture) to realise their ambition. Just over half of our social entrepreneurs (56%) have set up their venture as a corporate entity, which in law is separate from the individuals involved. A company without shareholding (with a lock on assets) is the conventional option although more and more are making use of a Community Interest Company (CIC).


54% Company Ltd by Guarantee

A traditional form for social enterprises that eliminates shareholding and therefore profit distribution.

27% Community Interest Company

A specially regulated legal form specifically for social enterprises which limits dividend payments.

11% Company Ltd by Shares

The most common entity in the commercial world, enabling private shareholding and profit.

7% Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation

A new legal form enabling small enterprising charities to become a corporate entity and limit the liability of members.

0.5% Industrial and Provident Society

A well-established legal form for co-operatives which is based on democratic control by members.

In one-third of cases we offer financial support to assist with the legalities of getting the ‘company’ set up. In all cases we share our expertise where we can to help get things off the ground. At the end of this test phase (typically supported by Level 1 funding and lasting around a year), our monitoring data shows that 82% of ventures are generating income. The average turnover of these early pilot initiatives is just £13,595. At this early stage the fledgling ventures are still fragile and heavily reliant on the energy and commitment of the social entrepreneur. Even so, in over two in every five cases (44%) sufficient funding is found during the pilot phase to pay for some staff, even on a seasonal basis; this equates to 0.8 Full Time Equivalent (FTE) positions per venture. Likewise the social entrepreneur is usually able to draw on a small committed group of volunteers (on average seven per venture).

Small Scale Sustainability After a period of incremental growth and development there comes a time when our social must find a business model that is financially and personally sustainable. Looking back with pride over the last five years, 82% of the incorporated social ventures that we helped form are still trading. In the remainder of cases, where they no longer exist, these entities traded for on average two years from the point of incorporation before being dissolved.


% Still in existence

% Surviving two or more years

















Our Level 2 - Build It awards (which often cover living expenses) provide the time and space required for the social entrepreneur to commit themselves wholly to making the venture work. This leap of faith is essential if the venture is to develop further and faster.

There are now a growing number of social entrepreneurs who have gone on to develop their initial idea into a viable social enterprise.

of ventures continue beyond the period of Level 2 awards

1 2

of our former level 2 build it ventures are now operating as mature social enterprises


After one year or so of funding, all of these Level 2 ventures were trading and generating income. Our records show that they leave this period of support reporting an average turnover of £56,752 (although this has varied substantially from £1,613 to £547,249). Sustained employment is also more likely to arise at this stage. By the completion of a Level 2 award, on average 2.7 FTE jobs per social entrepreneur have been created. The ventures at this stage are also adding volunteers (16 volunteers per social entrepreneur).


A Recipe For Success

What makes a successful early-stage social enterprise? Among the factors we have found to be critical to success are:


A highly effective social entrepreneur


A strong surrounding team and partnerships


A customer orientation and emphasis on quality


A profitable and scalable business model


A steadfast focus on delivering social outcomes

Some have significant ambition and potential for growth. Our more advanced group of social entrepreneurs have told us what they need to take their venture to scale. In rank order of importance these are:

Finance General Business Advice Marketing Advice Investment/Contracts Legal Advice

Matt Buckman Venture: U Can Learn Work Live Location: Kilmarnock Matt is committed to building skills and tackling the scourge of worklessness in Scotland. His venture, U Can Learn Work Live, provides a training centre and support into and beyond employment. It provides skills training for excluded groups (long-term unemployed, adults with diasbilities, youth unemployed) and creates jobs for them within new community projects/enterprises (set up directly by U Can and its partner organisations). It not only helps unemployed people into works but also provides continued guidance and support to ensure that employment is maintained.

Social investment is an important part of the mix. When we recently conducted follow-up tracking of our Level 2 ventures we found that 62% were aware of loan finance, 42% had considered using it, 20% had applied for loan finance, and 5% have made use of it. We believe a new form of financing is essential to enable early stage social enterprises to rapidly grow to scale. That’s why we are now working with the Big Lottery Fund and Social Investment Scotland to deliver LaunchMe, Scotland’s first ‘accelerator’ programme for social enterprises. LaunchMe

Scaling or Replication Some of our social entrepreneurs can go all the way; securing investment, formalising and professionalising, and building an organisation that can achieve great scale. Many of the social ventures we have supported have been fast growing. Indeed 68% of our Level 2 ventures exceeded the annual turnover target agreed at the outset. We recently tracked the progress of these Level 2 ventures (now having operated for an average of 2.9 years). We found that average turnover has grown to £90,625, some much less and some much more. In almost half of cases (48%) these might now be described as a ‘mature’ enterprise, one with half or more of its income from trading. In just over half of cases (56%) the social entrepreneur was earning some level of income from the venture. All of these social ventures are now “successful” in their own right. All continue to trade sustainably and deliver social impact; some a deep, localised impact while others are achieving wide-reaching social outcomes.


LaunchMe is a national accelerator programme for ambitious, early stage social enterprises. This pioneering programme is on a mission to find 15 of Scotland’s most ambitious social entrepreneurs that could use social investment to scale up their business and increase their social impact. LaunchMe will take this cohort through an intensive programme of business support, investment brokerage and mentoring. Participants can pitch for £25K seed funding and additional funding to match any investment secured up to £100K. We are delivering LaunchMe in partnership with Converge Challenge and Imani Financial Solutions.


LaunchMe Scotland’s Social Enterprise Accelerator

Going the Distance Some of our social entrepreneurs don’t go the distance or proceed neatly through our Level 1 and Level 2 process. Sometimes circumstances change, things don’t work out, and ventures ultimately can’t be sustained. Other times social entrepreneurs feel that they have achieved as much as they can or simply wish to move on. At Firstport we don’t talk about “failure”, simply social entrepreneurs who take a lot from this important formative experience and continue to learn, develop and apply their talents in different ways.

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

Anne McGrath Anne set up her social enterprise, Gathering Threads, in 2011 to provide training in sewing, dressmaking and tailoring. Her ambition was for the venture to become financially sustainable from contracts and a professional alterations/tailoring service. Supported by Firstport through both awards and business support, Anne experienced a rollercoaster journey. The first 18 months were a massive learning curve where she gained great credibility and acclaim, eventually securing contracts from her local Council and schools (empowering young women to design and create their own “Prom” dresses). However, the venture faltered when Anne was unable to secure and renew contracts, reaching a point where she could no longer sustain her full-time employment from the venture and had to give up her shop unit. Having established a good relationship with Firstport staff, Anne was able to count on the business support team to advise and motivate her to where she is now, and has reciprocated that support through her involvement and input in focus groups for Firstport! Through the experience and connections she made along the way Anne, however, is now where she wants to be – employed delivering similar training in local schools. For Anne the value of her concept was proven and she is still able to fulfil her passion while achieving social impact, although many in her community still yearn for Gathering Threads.


Changing Lives and Communities Our social entrepreneurs see that the social problems facing Scotland are more pressing than ever and want to act, now. They and their ventures are active in a variety of important fields from employability to the creative industries. Creating social impact is at the heart of everything they do. Within their given field they variously tackle social problems, strengthen communities, Top five service areas that our social improve people’s life chances, or protect the environment. In this they make a direct and entrepreneurs are working in: positive contribution to the Scottish Government’s five strategic objectives that underpin its core 1. Health & Wellbeing 24% purpose - to create a more successful country, 2. Employability 15% with opportunities for all of Scotland to flourish, 3. Creative 14% through increasing sustainable economic growth.

4. 5.

Delivering for Scotland


Social Care/Disability

12% 9%

18% of social ventures

Dedicated to making Scotland Wealthier and Fairer. Enabling businesses and people to increase their wealth and more people to share fairly in that wealth.

30% of social ventures

Dedicated to making Scotland Healthier. Helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better and faster access to local healthcare.

20% of social ventures

Dedicated to making Scotland Safer and Stronger. Helping communities to flourish, becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

14% of social ventures SocEnt


Dedicated to making Scotland Smarter. Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

18% of social ventures

Dedicated to making Scotland Greener. Improving Scotland’s natural and built environment and the sustainable use and enjoyment of it.


In an average month the typical social venture supported by Firstport benefits around

140 People

The social entrepreneurs we support often focus their energies and resources on tackling the needs of people that are particularly vulnerable, or who face multiple forms of disadvantage.

Five main beneficiary groups our social entrepreneurs have targeted: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Young People Disabled People Unemployed People Older People Women

29% 12% 9% 6% 3%


Creating a Wealthier and Fairer Scotland Social Bite

Changing the lives of homeless people

Josh LittleJohn Location: Edinburgh

Social Entrepreneurs Josh is one of Scotland’s leading young Fund delivered by Firstport entrepreneurs, who is passionate about the role of business and entrepreneurship as a force for change. Josh is building a chain of sandwich shops with a difference. On the commercial front Social Bite is going up against the high street giants, competing on the quality of its fresh, hand-made food. As a social enterprise, every penny of profits is given to good causes, from Shelter Scotland to the Vision Eye Care Hospital in Bangladesh. One-in-four of the team are also formerly homeless people and the homeless community in Edinburgh are also fed - 3 Sandwich shops through a ‘Suspended Coffee and Food’ - 25% of employees previously homeless initiative.

- 100% of profits to charity

Creating a Healthier Scotland Lois Cameron and Joan Murphy Talking Mats Location: Stirling Improving communication, improving lives

Social Entrepreneurs Lois and Joan jumped from a career as Fund delivered by Firstport speech therapists right into the deep end as social entrepreneurs. They are the inventors of Talking Mats, an award winning low-tech communication tool. Spinning out of Stirling University, their social enterprise is now helping thousands of people across the world to express their thoughts and feelings and, ultimately, improving their quality of life. Talking Mats has gone from strength to strength, winning the Scottish Start-up Social Enterprise of the year award 2012 and - Increased turnover by 23% in 1 year securing further investment from Scottish - Increased permanent staffing from 4 Enterprise and Big Issue Invest.

to 6 members to meet demand - Launched product as digital app in 2013

Creating a Safer and Stronger Scotland Homes for Good

Providing quality, affordable homes

Susan Aktemel Location: Glasgow

Social Entrepreneurs Susan is one of Scotland’s best-known social Fund delivered by Firstport entrepreneurs. Her latest venture, Homes for Good, is Scotland’s first social enterprise letting agency. This agency is all about changing the way people access private rented housing, improving standards and enabling people to live in quality, affordable homes. Added to this, Homes for Good offers access to support from a network of partner agencies to ensure that vulnerable tenants have all the support they need to sustain their tenancy, find meaningful - 3 full-time jobs created employment, and enjoy a good quality of - 103 tenants supported across 88 life. Still a fledgling venture, Homes for Good tenancies is growing fast, ensuring balanced - Property managed across 6 local commercial growth and social impact.




Creating a Smarter Scotland Geoff Tunstall Scallops Direct


Location: Annan

Building skills and tackling worklessness

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

- Employs 8 people - Secured social investment to consolidate the enterprise - Established supplier to restaurants and hotels

Geoff Tunstall is a serial social entrepreneur that set up Scallops Direct, a scallops processing plant to provide jobs and work based training opportunities. After first approaching Firstport in 2009 he received help with early stage start-up costs and after piloting the idea received further funding to grow operations and create more jobs. This was accompanied by access to a range of training workshops and business advice. Scallops direct is now a fast growing social enterprise creating jobs and delivering positive social impact locally.

Creating a Greener Scotland Laura Nicholson

Velocity Café and Bicycle Workshop

Location: Inverness

Supporting sustainable travel

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

- Over 1400 people have learned how to to fix their own bicycle - 9 full-time equivalent jobs created - Turnover of over £250k


Laura is passionate about cycling; the idea for the Velocity Café and Bicycle Workshop therefore came naturally. Now supported by the Scottish Government’s Climate Challenge Fund, Velocity works with schools and workplaces across Inverness to help get more people riding their bikes to school and work. Its team works closely with groups over several weeks to provide maintenance classes, safer routes workshops and confidence-building rides. As a result people feel that riding a bike can be easy and fun while improving mental and physical health, and generating tangible environmental benefits.

Making Our Contribution We provide the funding needed by social entrepreneurs to help them turn ideas into reality as well as the wrap-around support needed to boost confidence, connections, and skills. We are a modest organisation at heart, but are really proud of the quality of support we offer to social entrepreneurs. Every time we finish up supporting an organisation we ask for their feedback; this is almost always positive.


satisfaction with networking between awardees*



say our staff have a positive or very positive influence on the success of their social venture.


satisfaction with support from our award managers*

satisfaction with our business support*

*% rating support as useful or very useful.

The training workshops we deliver as part of the Just Enterprise programme are in demand and well regarded by almost everyone that attends. Our workshops provide a helpful grounding in social enterprise and cover all the basics of running a business (marketing, legal, cashflow).

the workshop brilliant “ Iatfound explaining the different

Our records show that that 98% of attendees have found the content of workshops good or very good.

aspects that are relevant in the early stages and there was just enough information on future development.

Quality is nothing however without accompanying impact. The evidence here shows that our model of support really does work. The evidence tells us that it’s our people that really count. Our team variously offer encouragement, play the role of advisor, and act as a critical friend. This helps to instill self-belief in the individual and their venture.

...Firstport has made a huge difference to the development of my social enterprise. Without the Level 1 award, it would have taken me much longer to get the idea off the ground. My business advisor and award manager have helped to keep me focused on what is important- it is nice to know you’ve got their encouragement and support.


After their period of support from Firstport social entrepreneurs are also observably more knowledgeable. Our workshops make a difference here with feedback showing that 95% of attendees leave with an increased knowledge and 88% report increased confidence to apply the learning.




The social entrepreneurs are also much better connected. We know that 75% of our social entrepreneurs find our input helpful in signposting them to other sources of support. Our tracking of Level 2 ventures also shows that after on average 2.9 years in operation, 87% had accessed other forms of available business support.

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

Reuben Chesters Venture: Locavore Location: Glasgow

Reuben is passionate about the food we eat and the way that we live our lives and care for our environment. That’s why he set up Locavore a social enterprise that runs a local food shop, growing project, and veg-bag subscription scheme. Not only does this social enterprise help to create a sustainable local food economy, it also teaches people how to cook healthy, nutritious and affordable food.

Start End


Personal Growth Reported

Business Planning

Seedcorn Funding

Development Support

Strengthen prospects

Clarify social needs

Enable social impact

Access wider support

Fuel new social enterprises

Strengthen business planning

During their time working with us on their venture, the social entrepreneurs also experience an empowering effect. This includes a growth in confidence, improved motivation, and newfound skills they need, now and in the future.

+ 74% report an increase in confidence + 61% report increased motivation + 58% report improved leadership skills + 50% report improved negotiation skills + 46% report improved team work


In most cases the combination of funding and support acts as an important catalyst. In some cases we play an instrumental role in getting social ventures off the ground. In most other cases we help to accelerate progress, increase scale, or enhance quality.


Venture likely to have proceeded



Venture would not have proceeded

Accelerated progress


Increased scale


Enhanced quality


The Next Chapter Firstport is not an organisation to rest on its laurels. The Firstport of today is unrecognisable from that of five years ago. We have been willing to push at the boundaries, finding more creative and effective ways to bring forward social entrepreneurs and their ventures. We have built an organisation and pipeline of support that has helped to start the journey of social entrepreneurs right across Scotland. 3,400 individuals have come through our doors and we have invested £3m in 524 of them. Those who continue in their journey on average create 2.7 jobs, 16 volunteering places, generating an average turnover of £56K within two years. And survival looks promising, with 3 out of 5 still in existence after 5 years! Over the next five years our ambition is to reach even deeper into Scottish communities and to release the potential of many thousands more. In part this will mean spreading tried-and-tested social enterprise ideas more widely through our Ditto programme.

Beyond the Finish Line

At the other end of the pipeline we will pull through an increasing number of high growth, high impact social enterprises. In this respect, we believe that social investment alongside grant awards must and will become more prominent in the mix. Watch out for the results of LaunchMe. Finally, we will ensure an even more targeted impact from our work; on people and place. Our newest programme – Beyond the Finish Line – shows how we will use our support model to enable people-powered regeneration. Social entrepreneurs across the country are tackling the most pressing social issues head on. They are doing it while creating jobs, giving people skills for the future and regenerating local areas. They have a vital role to play in Scotland’s social and economic future. Our ultimate ambition is to ensure that they are strong, ambitious, and ready to change the world!


This ambitious programme to regenerate local areas is being fuelled by the imagination of young people and by the momentum of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games. We have selected 15 budding young social entrepreneurs who will give new life to empty spaces around Glasgow and in doing so find innovative solutions to the widespread issue of high street and town centre decline. Each of the young challengers are now receiving one to one business support, mentoring from an industry expert, free workspace in Glasgow City centre, and £2014 to make it happen. Thanks to the support of the Big Lottery Fund, we are delivering this programme with Icecream Architecture.


Cornerstone House, 2 Melville Street, Edinburgh EH3 7NS 0131 220 0511 info@firstport.org.uk @firstport /firstportscotland

A report prepared by Social Value Lab. Graphic design by Anna Holt @createdbeyondremedy.com

Supported by:

Social Entrepreneurs Fund delivered by Firstport

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Start something good - Firstport impact report  

A landmark report by Firstport, Scotland's agency for start up social enterprises.

Start something good - Firstport impact report  

A landmark report by Firstport, Scotland's agency for start up social enterprises.

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