Earlier this month HSCHT attended the Social Enterprise Summit at the Kingsmill Hotel in Inverness. The day was a great success, with a big turn out from representatives from social enterprises of various backgrounds. There was also a variety of speakers throughout the day.
Below Morven Taylor discusses the event, and some opinions on the topic of social enterprise.
For more information on the Social Enterprise Summit – Please go to http://www.socialenterprisesummit.org.uk
Social Enterprise must move on from grant funding model
One of the common causes we found when talking with other organisations at the recent Social Enterprise Summit was the need to establish a sustainable business model.
Like The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust, many groups we talked to had been set up thanks to grant funding, and in many cases have received further grants to keep going. But the whole idea of social enterprise is that it works as a business model, not because it wants to make a profit but because every group wants to ensure its continued, independent existence.
Everyone at the summit had a cause they are passionate about, something they work towards every day because they believe it provides an important benefit to others in the community. In our case, that is the provision of high quality, warm, suitable housing for those that live and work in small Highland communities.
Even without companies or private sellers and landlords trying to make a profit, housing is an expensive business, so there are few opportunities for us to make a surplus without impacting on the very people we want to help. That’s why we are increasingly thinking of secondary businesses we can set up that will turn a bit more of a surplus, while still helping to work towards our core cause.
This was a popular approach among the other social enterprises we met in Inverness at the summit, and we have picked up many ideas and sources of inspiration. One of the best thing about these offshoot businesses is that they often cater to social causes that other third sector organisations also subscribe too, meaning that links can be forged and we can keep money within the social enterprise family by buying services and even goods from each other. This helps us all get on a more sustainable path, and at the same time expands the range of services being offered here in the Highlands and Islands.
We at The Highlands Small Communities Housing Trust are used to focusing on sustainability in the homes we build or help others to build, but it is equally important to ensure that our organisational model means we will still be here to help the next generation find a suitable Highland home, and the one after that too.
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