Bad Idea is one of a growing band of businesses in Scotland which put social responsibility and business enterprise in the same envelope.
Social enterprise trade to tackle social problems, improve communities or their environment. Like any other business, they sell goods and services in the open market but reinvest their profits back into their social aims or the local community.
The more-than-profit approach is enjoying support from many areas including Scottish and UK Government, lottery-funding, charitable trusts and foundations, business and individuals.
Bad Idea is part of a selective group of businesses taking part in LaunchMe, an accelerator programme helping them attract private investment to scale up and increase their social impact.
LaunchMe, the first programme of its kind in Scotland, is a Big Lottery Fund initiative delivered by Firstport, Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise.
Participants receive wide-ranging business support and help to secure private sector investment alongside Big Lottery funding to a level which enable them to reach financial self sustainability. Future profits are either ploughed back into the business or used for specific charitable purposes. No profits are distributed by way of dividends. The company also need to display that it makes a tangible difference to society.
My own interest in LaunchMe comes from many years of involvement with Scottish business angels. Scotland has one of the strongest business angel communities in the world and a strong track record in assisting start-up and early stage businesses achieve their ambitions. I’ve been greatly encouraged to see that a number of these angels are also willing to support sustainable social enterprises where the potential reward is significantly less in financial terms but significantly more in terms of supporting disabled, disadvantaged and disengaged people in society.
Business interests and the needs of our society are often perceived as being at different ends of the spectrum but the reality can be very different. Many Scots businesses channel significant effort and resources into supporting local or national social needs although there is always more that can be done, particularly in the current climate of reducing central resources. Firms can contribute to the fairer society to which we all aspire by supporting, encouraging and trading with social enterprises.
The social entrepreneurs brave enough to embark on the risky road of starting up social enterprise companies are an inspiring bunch. They deserve support from those who can provide it and in turn encourage the growth of social enterprise in Scotland.
Business angel and Firstport board member