Social enterprise

Social Enterprise

Social benefit is at the heart of business.

A growing sector in the region

Social enterprises are big business. Over 88,000 jobs are supported by the sector in Scotland and it contributes £2.6bn GVA. A third of Scotland’s social enterprises are in rural areas. There are more than 1,200 in the Highlands and Islands. 

Social enterprises trade just like any other businesses, but at their heart they have a social purpose. They trade for social, community and environmental benefits rather than distributing profits to shareholders or owners.

Across the HIE area social enterprises own and manage land, including whole estates and islands, harness renewable energy technologies, create employment, undertake infrastructure projects and provide an increasingly diverse range of essential services.

We work with social enterprises through a range of support services including advice, funding and property. 

Have a look at our support services to see how we can help you. 

Browse support

Social Enterprise in the Highlands and Islands

Some key facts from the Social Enterprise Census 2021


of our region's social enterprises are in rural areas


GVA social enterprise economic contribution


of our social enterprises are led by women

Meet our social enterprises

Find out more about the impact social enterprise has in our communities.

Group of people in a community hall celebrating with arms in the air


In addition to the business services available to social enterprises, we also work with community led organisations to support community project planning, asset ownership, fund management and more.

If your enterprise is part of a wider community-led development find out the others ways we can help.

Support for community organisations

Young man and girl holding tree in field ready for planting


Meet some of the fantastic social enterprises and organisations already working in Scotland. They all have a great story to tell, and may provide some good ideas as you develop your plans.

Case studies of our remarkable communities


Sign up for all the latest news, information on investments and development opportunities from across our region.