Business Support and Advice

Edinburgh Social Enterprise Network and The Good Stuff Community Edinburgh supports the business development and growth of social enterprise in Edinburgh through a wide variety of mechanisms delivered directly or in partnership with a variety of regional and national organisations. These support mechanisms include:

  • One to one support – for new and aspiring social enterprises as well as for more established enterprises and entrepreneurs.
  • Peer support – bringing members together to discuss and share their experiences, good practice and ideas through networking and training events
  • Information and signposting – of support services, events, training and opportunities provided by our local and national partners.
  • Facilitating collaboration – across social enterprises, private companies and public sector organisations to realise opportunities and enable community benefit
  • Facilitating trading – across members and between social enterprises, private companies and public sector organisations
  • Capacity building – of both people and organisations to develop the skills and knowledge required to create, manage and govern a social enterprise.
  • Representation – ensuring the sector’s views and interests are represented within economic development, community planning and other relevant forums

For further information, support or advice around any of these issues please contact us.

We are always available to discuss, explain and help prospective, new and existing Social Enterprises, however listed below are some particular areas of further support.

Legal Structures and advice

Social Enterprise is not yet a legally defined term in Scotland and the UK so an appropriate legal structure often appears to be a stumbling block for new businesses. The legal structure should always be driven and formed around what the business intends to do and how it intends to operate. Ideally all businesses should be incorporated through Companies House to provide protection to the directors and clients or customers and may also look towards registering with OSCR for charitable status in some cases.

A variety of resources and links are listed below to assist however we are always available to discuss, explain and guide you towards appropriate models and additional support.

Start up support and accelerator programmes

We are always keen to meet with new and existing Social Enterprise within the Edinburgh area to discuss new ideas or projects and are able to offer unique local advice and perspectives in particular.

Below are some of the other organisations who may be able to offer specific help and support.

Business Gateway Edinburgh

Business Gateway offer start up support and advice to all businesses through their business advisors. BG Edinburgh has a dedicated advisor to support Social Enterprises.

Business Gateway Advisors

Business Gateway


Firstport offer business support to help get your idea or organisation up and running. In addition they have a Social Entrepreneurs Fund available at two levels.


P4P, Tender Ready Accelerator Programme

P4P offers a 4 week programme to help social enterprises or third sector organisations gain knowledge and understanding in procurement and tendering over a short time frame.


School for Social Entrepreneurs

SSE programmes and workshops are designed specifically for charities, social enterprises, and public sector organisations. SSE run longer Start Up and trade Up programmes as well as short workshops.

School for Social Entrepreneurs Scotland

Social Enterprise Academy

People are stepping up all over Scotland to make a difference in their organisations, communities, and schools. Social Enterprise Academy helps them thrive, be their best and achieve greater impact.

Scottish Enterprise Academy

Community Enterprise

Community Enterprise provides development support to social enterprises, charities and voluntary groups in Scotland to help make ideas a reality.

Community Enterprise

Funding and other support

While the intention of Social Enterprises is to be self sustaining by the very nature of the business model, getting to that point or achieving that aim often needs some financial help or support in the early stages.

There are limited funding programmes available through Firstport and UnLtd and a number of other agencies.  These programmes or funding opportunities are normally designed to help start up or growth and are not designed to provide funding to ensure long term sustainability.

In addition there are periodic funding opportunities from a variety of other sources including government, lottery and independent trusts or organisations. These funds are often for particular areas of work, communities or specialisms.

We’ve listed below a variety of links and potential funding sources which may be appropriate for Social Enterprises both new and established.


Firstport offer business support to help get you idea or organisation up and running. In addition they have a Social Entrepreneurs Fund available at two levels: Start It (£5000) and Build It (£25,000)



UnLtd have currently closed their applications for new funding and are only dealing with organisations who they have previously funded and who may be at risk due to the pandemic.


Funding Scotland

SCVO’s service is a FREE and easy-to-use online search of over 1,300 vital funding opportunities for voluntary sector organisations in Scotland. It includes grants, loans, prizes and other support. 

Funding Scotland

Foundation Scotland

Foundation Scotland offers funding programmes for organisations working to benefit a range of communities across Scotland. Each programme has its own criteria and/or outcomes.

Foundation Scotland grants programmes

Foundation Scotland

Robertson Trust

Over the next ten years the Robertson Trust will provide around £200 million to third sector organisations that help people and communities in Scotland living with poverty and trauma.

Robertson Trust funding strategy 2020-30

Robertson Trust funding checker

The National Lottery Community Fund

The National Lottery Community fund distributes over £600 million to communities across the UK, raised by players of The National Lottery

National Lottery Community Fund

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