Key figures from Scotland and the UK's Social Enterprise sector visit Inverness this week for a major conference exploring how the social economy in the Highlands and Islands can play a leading role in the region's economic recovery.
The conference is being organised by HISEZ, the main support and development agency for social enterprises across the Highlands and Islands.
Speakers include Big Issue founder John Bird and Antonia Swinson, chief executive of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition.
Social enterprises are now widely regarded as one of the most dynamic business sectors, with social economy turnover in Scotland now standing at £3,064 million.
In the Highlands and Islands, HISEZ supports more than 400 social enterprise businesses from a range of sectors including health, tourism, food, arts, sports and community development.
This year's HISEZ conference, which takes place at the Centre for Health Science on Friday 27th August, includes sessions on leadership, business acquisition and investment.
Brian Weaver, Chief Executive of HISEZ, says: "There is a huge wave of interest in the business sector in social enterprise. In this region there are some incredible success stories of social enterprise businesses creating jobs, delivering great services and meeting the needs of local communities.
"The UK Coalition Government has given a very strong signal in its Big Society vision that social enterprise has a major part to play
"The time is ripe now for the social enterprise sector to go further and this conference is about discovering how we do that."
For further information please contact Kate McKinley on 07770 924887
John Bird will be visiting a number of social enterprise businesses in and around Inverness on Thursday 26th August and will be available for interview.
His itinerary includes:
Times for these visits may vary slightly so if you wish to interview John and any of the social business firms please contact HISEZ Chief Executive Brian Weaver on the day on 07879 626051.