Social enterprise support

Social Start-Up School  

Do you have a great business idea which could positively impact your local community or environment? Want some help to get it off the ground?

Is it time for you to be part of the social business movement, joining over 5,500 social enterprises across Scotland which already trade to address social needs, to strengthen communities, to improve people’s lives and to protect the environment?

The Highlands and Islands is part of a new international programme offering dedicated help for anyone setting up a new social business.

Four social business start-up schools are being set up across the region. The first, in Sutherland is open for appliclications now. Others will be placed according to demand and are likely to be in the Outer Hebrides, Wester and Easter Ross.

Each social start-up school will run for an 18-month period, with the hub in operation 2-4 days a month, offering face-to-face workshops, seminars and physical space where participants can work on their ideas. There’ll be a virtual network between face-to-face sessions. Participation will require a commitment to the full programme.

Our first School is in Sutherland  

Are you based in Sutherland? Our first start up school will be starting on October and we'd love to meet anyone who might be interested in taking part. You don't have to have a fully formed idea, the start-up school will help you develop your idea and provide you with the skills and confidence to take it forward.

We're having an event in The Hub in Bonar Bridge on Thursday 5 September for anyone who'd like to know more about the Start-Up School. Why not come and join us and the Social Enterprise Academy for some lunch and an informal chat about what kinds of ideas could be developed and how we can help you.

Sign up for the taster event on eventbrite here 

Apply today

Can't make it to the taster but keen to know more?

The Start-Up Schools are part of the Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs, an Interreg North West Europe partnership project. The fully funded programme of support is being funded by Interreg North West Europe, run by HIE and delivered by the Social Enterprise Academy.

What support will be delivered through the Start-Up School?

  • Idea generation (Good Ideas Workshop, the Melting Pot)
  • Leadership skills
  • Coaching and mentoring
  • Financial planning, pricing, investment, cash flow and resource management
  • Developing social business model
  • Links and introductions to wider sector support network

Support will be tailored to your individual needs and delivered in your local area, at times that suit your wider commitments.

Complete a short form to register interest and begin the application process.


If you would prefer to contact us with a video application, or you need support with the process you can get in touch here.

Contact us




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