For students

Exploring social enterprise

Keen to make a social or environmental impact through business? Use these resources to find out more about social enterprise business models.

The Social Enterprise Institute 

The Social Enterprise Institute (SEI) is ‘the World’s School for Social Enterprise’. The organisation offers the Steps to Startup course. 

Its digital learning platform provides high quality, on-demand e-learning for global Social Entrepreneurs and Social Enterprises using video and easy-to-use, action-based tools and resources. Enabled by funding from the Scottish Government, the University of Edinburgh students and recent alumni are now able to access these 8 e-learning courses that will help you to plan, build, and launch a successful social enterprise.

The courses include a toolkit of resources to start and expand your Social Enterprise on the following topics:

  1. Defining the Problem
  2. Planning Your Social Impact
  3. Building Support For Your Cause
  4. Testing Your Ideas on a Small Scale
  5. Finding Your Customers
  6. Designing Your Business Model
  7. Securing the Funding
  8. Getting Ready for Take-Off

Only take what you need, when you need it.

Social Entrepreneurship 

Social Entrepreneurship: this presentation by James Finnie from CEIS has been crafted as an introduction to social entrepreneurship. It includes how to identify and reach customers, how to best serve the beneficiaries of your product or service and more. 

The Social Business Model and Impact Canvas

  • The Social Business Model Canvas is a great tool for creating a solid business model around your social enterprise. It also helps you to effectively communicate different business models with your stakeholders. 
  • The Social Impact Canvas is a tool that helps you plan, measure and account for the changes you want to bring about in the world. 

Other Resources 

  • Enterprising Scotland - The 2019-23 social enterprise strategy for Scotland’s capital city. The strategy aims to be inclusive and supportive of a wide range of organisations within the social economy. It is a shared strategy of the Edinburgh social enterprise ecosystem.
  • Edinburgh Social enterprise is a membership organisation that supports social enterprises in Scotland.
  • Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for startup social entrepreneurs and social enterprises. The agency provides a package of useful services that cover seed funding, business advice and connections to help social entrepreneurs make their ideas a reality.
  • FutureX is a Scotland-based startup community that supports business leaders to build sustainable and socially conscious economies through their thriving online community FutureX Plus, resource hub and world class events. Some of their notable events include: Start up Summit and the social entrepreneurship focused Impact Summit.
  • Just Enterprise is Scotland’s free, specialist business support for social enterprise. Includes start up support, funding, training, procurement and more.
  • Nesta is an innovation hub that tackles society’s big challenges. Nesta offers practical tools and resources to help with innovation and also funding opportunities.
  • Scotland CAN DO movement has the passion to increase entrepreneurship and innovation among individuals and businesses in Scotland for good, by inspiring more people from all walks of life to create, lead and grow successful businesses.
  • Senscot Legal offers affordable legal advice for social enterprises, such as setting up a particular legal model.
  • Social Enterprise Academy learning & development offers programs that focus on leadership, enterprise, personal development and social impact to support social entrepreneurs.
  • Social Enterprise Scotland is based in Edinburgh and they promote social enterprises in the media and public. They also support their member with news and advice.
  • Social Investment Scotland is a social enterprise and charity that offers loan funding and business support for other social enterprise, charities and community groups looking to make a positive impact. SIS also offers online learning and diagnostic tool for organisations to analyse themselves when seeking social investments.
  • Social shifters is a global community of people committed to social and environmental change. It presents an opportunity to learn, collaborate and get inspired by other like-minded people. Also creating an account is free!
  • The Big Issue - Power Up Scotland Programme aims to enable early stage social ventures to access loan funding of up to 50k.  Power Up is designed to help social enterprises, charities, and private enterprises accessing finance especially for the first time.
  • Theory of Change is a rigorous yet participatory process whereby groups and project stakeholders identify the conditions they believe have to unfold for their long-term goals to be met. These conditions are modelled as outcomes, arranged graphically in a causal framework.
  • Unltd also provides support to social ventures. Its wide range of services includes funding, business advice, one-to-one support, investments and mentoring. 
  • Voluntary Code of Practice for Social Enterprise. This code sets out the basic criteria of a social enterprise and how it is different from the other sectors. It is set out by Scottish SE community with 5 basic criteria. It can be a great place to consider when starting out in your social enterprise journey.
  • Zebras Unite is an online community platform that advocates for more ethical and inclusive in the existing startup and venture capital culture around the world.  Zebras Unite’s library of resources is not just articles but experiences, ideas and connections that all entrepreneurs can learn from.