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Social entrepreneurs in Invergordon invited to attend Start-Up School taster ses

Published: 22/01/2020

People from Invergordon with a business idea that will benefit their local community or environment will soon have access to a new programme of support.

Start-Up School Sutherland taster session

Known as the Social Start-Up School, the innovative programme run by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and delivered by the Social Enterprise Academy, is running four locally focused initiatives across Easter Ross, Wester Ross, Sutherland and the Outer Hebrides.

The Start-Up School is open to anyone with a social business idea, regardless of age, education or employment. Ideas don’t have to be fully formed, the School will support individuals to develop their social business model, providing them with the knowledge, skills and confidence to bring it to life and create a lasting impact.

A free taster session is being held at Invergordon Leisure Centre from 2pm to 4pm on Tuesday 11 February 2020, giving residents the chance to speak to representatives from Social Enterprise Academy to learn more about the programme.

Helen Lavery, senior project manager at HIE, said: “Social businesses trade like any other but at their core they have a broader purpose. This progressive model sees businesses trading for social, community or environmental benefits. A programme like this is beneficial not only to the participants, but also to the wider Invergordon community.

“Our Start-Up School centres on taking support to our rural communities, harnessing and supporting enterprising activity via the expertise, experience and networks that Social Enterprise Academy and the Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs (SuNSE) bring to the table.

“We are offering an invaluable resource that will drive idea generation and help to bring businesses forward. We have high hopes that a range of social enterprises will emerge and develop over the course of the programme.”

Social enterprises are big business. Over 80,000 jobs are supported by the sector in Scotland and it contributes £2bn Gross Value Added (GVA). Around a third of Scotland’s social enterprises are in rural areas with more than 1,100 in the Highlands and Islands alone. Start-Up School aims to encourage people to look at social business models which will create ambitious enterprises within their local communities.

The fully funded, 18-month Start-Up School aims to attract ambitious social entrepreneurs by offering them supportive learning environments in areas such as business planning, sourcing investment, market awareness and commercialising opportunities, essential skills required when setting up a business. This flexible approach to learning is designed to fit around existing commitments and takes advantage of online learning as well as face-to-face sessions.

The resulting enterprises not only create career opportunities for the people taking part, but will regenerate communities, through job creation and delivery of products and services vital to the community.  

The Start-Up School is part of the Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs (SuNSE), an Interreg North West Europe partnership project. The School is funded by Interreg North West Europe, run by HIE and delivered by the Social Enterprise Academy.

The overall SuNSE programme will result in a unique transnational network of collaborative organisations from the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and France, all working together to support social entrepreneurs and each other, a partnership that will continue well beyond the lifecycle of the project.

Participants will receive 1-2-1 support from social business experts and will become part of this Europe-wide network of peers. The Start-Up School programme will leave the social entrepreneurs with a well-developed business plan, appropriate commercial skills, market awareness and support agencies to help them into the future.

Applications are now being accepted for the Invergordon Start-Up School, classes begin in Spring 2020.

For further information on the Start-Up School, please contact

To sign up for the Invergordon Start-Up School Taster Session please visit:

Invergordon Start-Up School Taster Session:

2-4 pm, Tuesday 11 February

Invergordon Leisure Centre, IV18 0GH

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