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Strategic and operational review of the Enterprise Facilitator pilot


The Enterprise Facilitator is a pilot community-led programme to provide mentoring, coaching and business support to local entrepreneurs and businesses. Developed through three local projects, in Kintyre, Perthshire and Dundee, the project utilised an approach pioneered by Ernesto Sirolli in Australia, the US, New Zealand and England. The pilot was set up in 2006 on a joint basis between Scottish Enterprise (SE), Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Communities Scotland and the Scottish Government.


This strategic and operational review sought to assess the progress of the pilots, assessing the model as a way of developing businesses in local communities. A particular issue has been the need to take account of the significant changes in the economic development landscape that occurred after 2007, with the restructuring of the Enterprise Networks, the absorption of Communities Scotland’s non-regulatory functions into the Scottish Government, the transfer of responsibility for local economic development (along with the Business Gateway) to local authorities, and the Concordat between the Scottish Government and COSLA. The study involved a review of relevant documentation relating to the pilots and the Sirolli model; a review of economic development strategic frameworks to identify the model’s fit and contribution; consultations with key stakeholders, including the pilot funders (both at head office and local offices), the leaders of the three local pilots (including the board members and the Enterprise Facilitators from each pilot), and relevant local authorities.


The report found that while each of the local pilots had been established successfully and had undertaken valuable work within each area, the central elements of the Sirolli approach were unlikely to been achieved: namely, to establish an alternative, self-sustaining model for developing communities, delivering business support and growing the economy, dispensing with the bureaucracy traditionally associated with local economic development. To continue, all three of the pilots will require sustained funding of at least £50,000 per annum. There is concern in each pilot over whether the local community would be able to sustain this level of funding. This would then require public sector funding – which will require the bureaucracy necessary to ensure value for money. Additional projects funded by the public sector are unlikely to be feasible, given the likely costs – including the high start up costs. The structural changes in the delivery of local economic development services from April 2008 and the changed remits of the original pilot funders provide additional barriers to the Sirolli model being sustainable in Scotland. There were, nonetheless, valuable lessons from the operation of the three pilots. The consultation programme suggested significant progress in terms of community engagement and capacity building, with a significant increase in the level of local networks and better communication in terms of sharing knowledge and working together across local communities for a common purpose. Reflecting this, there is some potential for continuation of the three pilot projects, with the support of new funding sources such as the LEADER programme.


There is a desire in each project to continue to with the Sirolli concept when pilot funding comes to an end, to support the employment of the Enterprise Facilitators. It is unlikely such funding will come from the local community. If public sector funding is sought – from whatever source – then the key ethos of the Sirolli model is likely to be lost as the projects would operate much like any other local business development support initiative. Given the changes in the economic development infrastructure, there is no role for the national level partners – SE, HIE and Scottish Government. It is a matter for local communities alone whether there are further Sirolli models developed to aid local community and economic regeneration. No restrictions should be placed on such attempts; it is a matter for the local community. The review concludes there is unlikely to be further models in Scotland, due to the high set-up costs and the low probability of securing self-sustaining funding. The high start up costs could be ameliorated by establishing a lower-cost delivery model, but this would still face major constraints in terms of local community based funding, in the absence of funding from the national bodies. Local authorities suggested that whilst they may be able to assist the current models to access new funding sources, they do not anticipate that sufficient funding will be available to extend the model to new areas.

Author EKOS Ltd
Published Year 2009
Report Type Evaluation
  • Business infrastructure
    Local/community regeneration
  • Enterprise
    Entrepreneurship/new firm formation, Support to existing/growth businesses
  • Labour Market and Skills
    Leadership/management development