The Blackford Trust - Investing in Talent in Scotland and China

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Please note The Blackford Trust is now closed - this page is retained for purely historic interest

Social enterprise

Throughout the life of the Trust, we were particularly interested in the concept of “social enterprise”, and indeed several of our existing partners include a significant element of enterprise in their work.

What is a “social enterprise” ?

Answering this question is not as simple as it might seem ! There is no formal legal definition in the UK as yet, unlike a conventional company or charity. However, a noted commentator defines a social enterprise as having six fundamental characteristics :

  • it has a social purpose

  • it achieves this, at least in part, by trading in the marketplace – this trading income need not necessarily replace grant income entirely

  • it does not distribute surpluses/profits to individuals (such as owners/directors or shareholders), but retains surpluses within the organisation for its own use, or that of its defined community (for additional services, new investment etc)

  • it holds assets and wealth in trust for community benefit

  • it democratically involves members of its community in the governance of the organisation, by involving employees/volunteers/staff and/or other stakeholders in a structured way

  • it is an independent organisation accountable to a defined constituency and the wider community

Our "social enterprise" partners

Seven of our partners have had a "social enterprise" focus in their work :

  • Cyrenians Farm - our investment has supported their production of fruit and vegetables for sale in the local area, as well as other aspects of the farm's work. In addition, the farm has an income stream from hosting corporate team building events. The wider Cyrenians operation in the Lothians also includes a food waste recycling business (CORE), and support to assist people into employment. For more information, see their partner page and the links given there to the Cyrenians websites.

  • Autism Initiatives - our investment has supported their development of a horticulture-based training and employment scheme for autistic people in Edinburgh and the Lothians. At the site at the Hermitage Golf Course, they also operate a cafe. And AIS has already opened The Gallery on the Corner in Edinburgh, which fully represents and supports inclusive artwork produced by artists who have a physical or mental health condition or those from a disadvantaged background. For more information, see their partner page and the link given there to the AIS website.

  • Diaosu, Dundee - our three awards supported this community arts company in their development of a youth programme aimed at 16-24 year olds in the city. This will include the opportunity for young people go into business selling their artwork. For more information, see their partner page.

  • Pucheng Country Women's Sustainable Development Association - our investment supported microfinance loans to women in this poor rural county in northwest China. The ultimate goal of each loan is to raise the income level of the women and their families, as well as raising their educational and social status. Typical uses by the 20 or so households supported to date include agricultural businesses such as fruit orchards, corn, cotton, pigs and sheep. For more information, see their partner page.

  • Global Heritage Fund, Pingyao city - our two investments supported training for skilled craftspeople and artisans to pass on and preserve the traditional craft of woodblock printing, part of Pingyao's unique living heritage. Older experienced craftspeople trained the next generation in these ancient skills. The team at Pingyao works to develop of new markets, at home and abroad, for their products. For more information, see their partner page and the links given there to GHF websites.

  • ROKPA, Qinghai - our investment in their traditional Tibetan medicine project supported the local economy by training local people in the cultivation, sustainable harvesting and re-introduction of medicinal plants in three areas in Nangchen County, and the construction of a factory for processing plants into medicines. For more information, see their partner page.

  • BasicNeeds - our investment is in a microfinance project, in support of the organisation's existing work on mental health and epilepsy, in Shunping Country, Hebei province. This project will involve piloting small microfinance loans to groups of local people, extending a similar existing scheme that relies on grants. For more information, see their partner page.

In addition, several other partners have well-developed trading operations to support their work, while others are developing "social enterprise" projects for the future.

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This page was last updated on 18 July 2016.

A charity formerly registered in Scotland, no. SC039658

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