This pioneering programme, designed and delivered by support agency Firstport, is seeking the 15 most ambitious, early stage social enterprises in Scotland to connect them with investors looking for social as well as financial returns.
LaunchMe will select a cohort of 15 applicants and will offer them the opportunity to use an £825,000 grant fund to lever in repayable investment. This, together with a tailored programme of support, aims to attract new investors into the sector and build the pipeline of social investment in Scotland, a market still in its infancy.
The programme is an initiative of the Big Lottery Fund Scotland. It follows an American-style “combinator” programme and brings a Silicon Valley approach to businesses driven by a social mission. There will be a tough selection process culminating in a pitch to a high profile panel of experts. The panel includes Jock Millican, Chairman of LINC Scotland and a leading member of the investment and business angel community, as well as Scottish entrepreneur Ali Smeaton, co-founder of Morphsuits. They will join representatives of the social enterprise community, the Big Lottery Fund and Social Investment Scotland to make the final cohort selection.
An example of a high growth potential social enterprise is Social Bite, a chain of sandwich shops started in Edinburgh by young social entrepreneur Josh Littlejohn. Since opening its first shop in 2012, the business has gone from strength to strength. It now employs 20 people, 9 of which were from homeless backgrounds, opened its third outlet (with more on the pipeline) and has donated thousands of pounds to local and international causes.
Karen McGregor, Chief Executive of Firstport, said: “LaunchMe is a completely new approach to supporting brilliant social enterprise ideas that can achieve rapid scale, bringing about more social benefits to communities across Scotland. We know from our research that the appetite and interest for new types of finance is there and we look forward to uncover and support these ambitious and innovative ideas”.
Jackie Killeen, Chief Executive of Big Lottery Fund Scotland, said: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Firstport to find and support some of Scotland’s most ambitious, early stage social enterprises. We believe that through an intensive programme of combined non-financial and financial support this initiative will accelerate the potential of ambitious early stage social enterprises and stimulate a pipeline of investible ideas in Scotland. It’s an exciting initiative which will bring real benefits to the social enterprise sector and we look forward to a range of organisations applying to be part of this opportunity.”
More information about the programme and information on how to apply are available on the LaunchMe website
For further information please contact Maria Ashley, Marketing & Communications Manager, Firstport on 0131 220 0511.