What if...Girvan goes global with OASIIS

Ayrshire social enterprise programme What if…Girvan is to become the first social investor on a global digital platform, OASIIS, which connects UNESCO Biospheres worldwide.

What if…Girvan, delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s social enterprise development agency, is also a “Proud Supporter” of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere.

Girvan and South Carrick villages, which are covered by the What if…Girvan social enterprise development programme, sit within the biosphere’s transition zone. It is one of a network of 669 Biosphere Reserves spread across 120 countries throughout the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBRs). There are six Biosphere Reserves in the UK two of which are in Scotland – Galloway and Southern Ayrshire and Wester Ross.

What if...Girvan is the first social investor to partner with OASIIS (Opening Access to Sustainable Independent Income Streams), an online platform designed to promote sustainable development in and around biosphere reserves. Developed by Scottish social enterprise ASC, an early beneficiary of Firstport, the platform aims to engage social entrepreneurs and local businesses that are delivering social and environmental benefits and provide them with an opportunity to connect with other like-minded businesses via the OASIIS platform – locally, nationally and internationally - to share information and provide access to new markets and investment opportunities.

The What if programme’s online presence on the digital platform goes live today (Friday 23 March), coinciding with the two year anniversary of the OASIIS platform and the launch of the first ever OASIIS Biennial Report, which sheds light on the potential of social entrepreneurship for sustainable development.

Sally Johnston, What if…Girvan programme manager, said: “Biosphere Reserves such as Galloway and Southern Ayrshire are a perfect fit for social enterprises, which invest in people and the environment and help create flourishing and robust communities.

“The OASIIS/What if…Girvan partnership will link individuals and social enterprises to activity and opportunities within the global network of biospheres. Having a digital presence on OASIIS will enable them to make their impacts internationally visible and connect with new markets and partners worldwide. What if...Girvan offers opportunities to individuals starting up and looking to develop social enterprises in the biosphere area.’’

Colin Campbell, ASC and OASIIS founder, said: “We are delighted to welcome What if…Girvan onto the OASIIS platform as the first social investor. This opens up a fantastic opportunity for social entrepreneurs to access investment that can support them to contribute to making their communities more resilient and sustainable while working in harmony with the values of their local Biosphere.

“The OASIIS platform currently hosts 16 UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, just 2% of the WNBRs, yet records US$ 11million turnover and over 500 employment and training opportunities being created by social entrepreneurs within these areas. OASIIS is also recording, and probably underestimating, 395 direct actions towards the UN SDGs from organisations on OASIIS.

“We want to connect these social entrepreneurs with supportive UNESCO Biosphere Reserves and with markets, partnerships, ideas, knowledge, and inspiration across our collective WNBRs. The recently published first OASIIS Biennial Report also brings together case studies from across the world, including several from Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. The potential of social entrepreneurship for sustainable development within the World Network of Biosphere Reserves is tremendous. Our partnership with What if…Girvan will allow us to help continue to connect Girvan and the South Carrick villages with opportunities across the international OASIIS membership.”

Anyone who has a business idea that could make a positive difference in Girvan and the South Carrick villages can contact Sally at sally@firstport.org.uk or on 07501 950 413. Firstport offers one to one business support to develop ideas, up to £3000 in funding to test it, along with training, leadership development, mentoring and peer support.

Any social enterprises or local businesses delivering on social and environmental benefits based within the Biosphere are welcome to register on the OASIIS platform at www.oasiis-br.org and contact Tabi at tabi@social-capital.net or on 0750 4524 792, for opportunities to connect with other businesses, create new partnerships, enter new markets and learn from other social entrepreneurs.


More information from Carol Stewart or Jess Gray, Firstport communications team, on 0131 558 2724.

Notes to editor

Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise, offering 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, as well as LaunchMe, Scotland’s only social enterprise accelerator programme, and place-based programmes including What if... Girvan.
Firstport is also part of the Just Enterprise consortium, with responsibility for providing business support to start-up social enterprises across Scotland.

What if...Girvan
What if…Girvan is a programme delivered by Firstport, supporting people to develop and launch business ideas that make a positive difference in Girvan and South Carrick villages. Support includes one to one support to develop their idea and up to £3000 in funding to test it out, along with training, leadership development, mentoring and peer support. The programme is open to those in and around the KA26 postcode (although you don’t have to live there).
More information is available at http://www.firstport.org.uk/programmes/what-if-girvan

Assist Social Capital (ASC) is a Scottish social enterprise which works in social capital, impact evaluation and the Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve (SEBR) initiative, funded by the Scottish Governments International Social Enterprise Programme.
The SEBR initiative promotes social entrepreneurship as a driver of sustainable development within UNESCO Biosphere Reserves. The initiative has influenced the international Lima Action Plan (Specifically C.6) which now includes the inclusion of social entrepreneurs in UNESCO Biosphere Reserve activities.
For more on ASC and the SEBR Initiative visit: www.social-capital.net

OASIIS is an online platform managed and run by ASC. The platform was launched in 2016 at the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves in Lima Peru, and since then has collected data on organisations within 16 biosphere sites (2% of the World Network of Biosphere Reserves). The platform acts as an online hub for social entrepreneurs and Biosphere Reserves.
Visit the OASIIS platform at: www.oasiis-br.org and see the OASIIS Biennial Report here