The event was coordinated by local charity Inspiralba, supported by UnLtd Scotland and was designed to engage social entrepreneurs in identifying priorities and planning future work.
Study visits to MACC Business Park and South Kintyre Development Trust on day one highlighted benefits from securing assets of land and premises for communities. Vital Spark new start social enterprises provided entertainment, from Homesong, Triple Aspect Theatre. Cultural Connections provided a fusion of fabulous food from, Bangladesh Tandoori, Food for Thought, Mull of Kintyre Cheddar, Scottish Tablet Company and Argyll Smokehouse and Monty’s Vegan delights.
The main event the next day had around 50 people from Argyll attending and those who found it difficult to travel from remote communities were connected via live streaming (supported by students Paul and Andy from Argyll College). Making access for folks from a rural settings more inclusive is important and is hoped can be replicated at national events in future.
The event focused on ‘what resources, support and collaboration can assist in sustaining our rural communities through social enterprise’. Social enterprises deliver a range of activity, including; community run cinemas, fuel stations, services for older people, youth work and sport, to name but a few being provided in our communities. The social enterprise sector in Argyll also makes a considerable contribution in financial terms to the local economy with a survey carried out in 2015 highlighting a combined income from the 244 enterprises identified of £40.7 million. However the social and environmental benefits run much deeper in sustaining essential services for our local area.
UnLtd Scotland have committed to working in Argyll and Bute for the next 5 years and have committed £100K and staff resource to enable social entrepreneurs to achieve significant impact in their community. This commitment will be used to lever in additional investment to the area including European funds and other resources to make a bigger impact. Priorities identified included: Networking and Support from Agencies (effective representation), Inspiring Young People tackling out migration and depopulation, Better Data on size, targets impact by segment vision and profitability and Recognition of the sector and the work in our communities.
At the end of the conference, six brave folks made Dragons Den-style pitches for new social enterprise start up and also new areas of activity for existing social enterprises. Pitches included: Inspired by Autism, Keeping It Local, Shopperaide, 3b Design, E Tyler Biochar, K Clark Snack Shack. Prizes included £3,500 and business support from Inspiralba, £1000 and business support from Argyll and Bute Council, and business support and scope for a further £7,000 from Unltd Scotland.