Social Start-Up School

Set up your own social business.

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 6,000 social enterprises across Scotland which already trade to address social needs, to strengthen communities, to improve people’s lives and to protect the environment?

What is it?

The Highlands and Islands region 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 two schools, in Sutherland and Wester Ross, are up and running. It's not too late to get involved, we'd love to meet anyone who might be interested in taking part. 

Our Invergordon start-up school is due to get underway at the end of February and applications are opening soon. There's a taster session in Invergordon at the Leisure Centre on 11 February if you'd like to find out more. Sign up here.

The final start-up school is planned for the Outer Hebrides. Applications will open in early Spring.

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.


Contact us

For more information, or to discuss how you can get involved, get in touch today.

Contact Social Start-Up School

Social enterprises are big business. Over 80,000 jobs are supported by the sector in Scotland and it contributes £2bn GVA. Around a third of Scotland’s social enterprises are in rural areas. We can help people with a great idea get it off the ground.
Helen Lavery, Senior Project Manager, HIE

Why social business?

You can develop a successful business which also delivers important social benefits. Get some inspiration from this successful Highland project.

The Shieling Project

The Start-Up Schools are part of the Support Network for Social Entrepreneurs, an Interreg North West Europe partnership project. The programme is fully 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.


Apply to the Social Start-Up School today

The Start-Up School could help you get your business off the ground. Fill out the form or upload a video outlining your ideas - and we'll see how we can help.

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