Search launched for innovators to improve life for Scotland’s young people

People with innovative suggestions to support young people in Scotland are being offered the chance to win £5000 to make their ideas a reality through the Scottish Social Innovation Competition.

Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise development agency, is celebrating Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018 by launching the search for the most innovative and enterprising new ideas for working with and for Scotland’s young people.

This year’s Social Innovation Competition offers three £5000 awards, combined with tailored support from Firstport to refine and develop these ideas into reality. The winners, including one young social innovator aged under 30, will be announced in the autumn.

The 2018 competition launch today (Wednesday 28 March) was also marked by the announcement that 2017’s Young Social Innovator, Jennifer MacDonald of Woodside Arran, a community supported organic farm and delivery business, has been awarded a further £25,000 seed funding through the Social Entrepreneurs Fund to further accelerate her business’ growth.

Firstport chief executive Josiah Lockhart said: “This year, we are marking Year of Young People 2018 by asking people to come up with the most innovative and enterprising solutions to social issues and/or challenges affecting young people aged between 8 and 26. This could be through giving them access to new opportunities, helping them to overcome barriers and inequalities, or improving their quality of life.”

“We are delighted to see the progress of our previous Social Innovation winners, including Jennifer MacDonald, who have just received a £25,000 grant from our Build It programme to further expand Woodside Arran.”

Communities Secretary Angela Constance said: “As part of the Year of Young People, I’m delighted to confirm the Scottish Government is supporting the Social Innovation Competition 2018. Social enterprises are businesses that trade for the common good, reinvesting profits into a social or environmental mission. There are now 5,600 operating right across Scotland and it’s through competitions like this that we can support the next generation of social entrepreneurs.”

Jennifer MacDonald, director of Woodside Arran, said: "Winning the Social Innovation Competition gave us a huge boost of confidence, but also allowed us to support more people to access our services a lot quicker than we would have been able to on our own.

“It has fast tracked our business by about six months and allowed us to carry out a lot of the activities we didn't think we would be able to do, at a very challenging time for farming. Winning allowed us to look ahead to the 2018 season and prepare for where we want to be by the end of the year, rather than having to make do with where we are now.

“Being awarded the Build It grant is incredible- not only does it guarantee that we will be self-sufficient within one year, but it means we can take on a member of staff straight away to help us with both the busy growing season and getting more people involved with our local food network. This will allow us to build on the momentum we have created so far and reach the many people who live on Arran and who will visit this year”.

The winners of last year’s competition, which focused on culture, heritage and tourism, also included Maria Perez, of ethical tourism enterprise Scotland’s Social Way, and Sarah Mackenzie, of Tain Picture House Regeneration Project.

For more information on how to enter the 2018 competition, go to www.firstport.org.uk/socialinnovation

Ends

For more information, contact Carol Stewart carol@firstport.org.uk or Jess Gray jess@firstport.org.uk, 0131 558 2724 or 07944 060322.

Editor’s Notes

Firstport

Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise, supporting more than 3 social entrepreneurs a day start up and/or grow their enterprises. We offer a full package of free business support and resources that includes start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections.

Firstport delivers an awards programme, which distributes money from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund and is part of the Just Enterprise consortium, with responsibility for providing business support to start-up social enterprises across Scotland. Firstport also helps small communities find enterprising solutions to local issues through its What If… programme and delivers LaunchMe, Scotland’s dedicated social enterprise accelerator programme to help growing enterprises grow and secure social investment from Scotland’s private investor community.

Social Entrepreneurs Fund

Since 2009, the Social Entrepreneurs Fund has made 564 awards and distributed over £4.1 million across Scotland. In April 2017, the Scottish Government announced that funding for the Social Entrepreneurs Fund will double to £1 million for each of the next three years.

Build It

The grant to Woodside Arran was awarded as part of Firstport’s Build It programme, which distributes money from the Social Entrepreneurs Fund. The awards support entrepreneurs who are looking to develop social enterprises with a proven record of making social impact while maintaining financial stability. Funding of up to £20,000 is available to cover an individual’s salary or living costs for one year, so that they can start running the business full time. A further £5,000 discretionary funding is available on top of this for other costs, such as additional staff.

More information is available at www.firstport.org.uk