SIS & ZWS support Scotland’s social enterprises transition

By John Pinching
Social Investment Scotland and Zero Waste Scotland to deliver The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund

While the exact definition of independence is debatable, Scotland has always found ways of innovating in its own image. Indeed, its approach to dynamic sustainability is no different. 

Social Investment Scotland (SIS) – in partnership with Zero Waste Scotland (ZWS) – has launched a £5M fund to help social enterprises, charities, and community organisations make the transition to carbon net zero.

The purpose of The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund is to support social enterprises and the wider third sector in their journeys towards carbon neutrality through activities including waste reduction, energy consumption, transitioning to sustainable transport options, and the adoption of circular economy business models.

Managed by SIS, the fund will provide loans to successful applicants starting from £10,000. Some small grants of up to £20,000 may be available, as part of a blended loan and grant offer, to organisations with a particular focus on circular economy projects that deliver new or additional re-use, repair, or leasing/sharing activity, resulting in positive carbon benefits.

Zero to hero

The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund is part of the Scottish Government’s £30M Third Sector Growth Fund, which was announced in March this year. It supports the ambitions of SIS, ZWS and the Scottish Government, to make waste minimisation and reuse the first-choice option for the consumer.

Chris Jamieson, Head of Investments, SIS enthused: “Scotland’s transition to a net zero economy requires bold and innovative solutions from every sector of our economy, including our social enterprise and third sectors. These organisations have a key role to play in ensuring that this transition is fair and just, due to their ability to deliver social and environmental impact.

"Their ambitions, however, are often constrained by the limited resources at their disposal. The Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition Fund will provide finance to support these ambitions, helping Scotland’s third sector adopt earth-friendly practices while contributing products and services to address one of society’s biggest challenges.”

Iain Gulland, CEO of Zero Waste Scotland, said: “To truly end our contribution to the climate crisis we need to tackle overconsumption and switch from a wasteful linear economy to a circular one. Many social enterprises and charities in Scotland are leading the way with imaginative and ground-breaking ways to help us reduce the destructive impact of waste on our planet and meet our net zero targets.

"But we know financial obstacles can restrict their progress, or sometimes even prevent them from launching at all. Therefore, we’re thrilled to be working with Social Investment Scotland to launch the Social Enterprise Net Zero Transition fund – a way for us to financially nurture, empower, and enable these organisations to thrive as part of a vibrant circular economy,” he added.

Circle of life

Many social enterprises and charities in Scotland are already leading the way in their adoption of circular economy practices and solutions.

Community Transport Glasgow (CTG), for example, is a charity committed to providing high quality, accessible, door-to-door transport to vulnerable individuals and groups in Glasgow, transporting 75,000 passengers each year. CTG is in the process of replacing its entire fleet of diesel minibuses with electric vehicles.

Furthermore, Glasgow-based ethical retailer Locavore also embeds circular economy thinking into every aspect of its operations.

Not only does the social enterprise help customers reduce plastic consumption through the availability of package-free options but it has also set out a major target to be carbon negative by March 2023, through the use of electric delivery vans, use of green energy and a commitment to waste recycling.

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