Page Loading

Social Enterprise in Scotland Census: 2015


The report was produced as part of a research project that aims to build an understanding of social enterprise (SE) activity in Scotland. The project arose out of a commitment to better co-ordinate the intelligence gathering, knowledge sharing and evidencing of the impact of the SE sector. The report is intended to be used by partners to shape a strategy to guide the development of the sector. It seeks to begin to generate a formative evidence base to supplement further research.


The research was conducted in four stages. Researchers created a database of SEs, drawing on public registers for information. They also conducted a financial analysis of publicly available accounts from the previous year and conducted an online ‘census’ survey of SEs. Finally the data was combined to produce an analysis of economic performance and impact.


The report finds that SE activity in Scotland is wide reaching and varied, with SEs increasing in number and financial strength across Scotland. It is estimated that there are 5,199 SEs in Scotland, with 112,409 employees and 67,768 volunteers supporting the delivery of SE activity. Annual income is estimated at £3.63 billion, of which £1.15 billion is generated from trading. The sector contributes £1.68 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA). The report indicates that the sector is diverse in terms of location, expertise, and gender equality, with some 60% of SEs in Scotland headed by women. Evidence presented in the document supports the view of the researchers that Scotland is a world leading nation on SE support and suggests SEs are a fairer, more inclusive way of doing business. Focusing on financial statistics, the research emphasises the growth of SEs; how they integrate economic aims with charitable activities and how they maintain a balance between financial and social goals.


The report outlines some potential obstacles for SEs going forward but stresses the positive solutions which can be generated through sharing and exchanging ideas and practices. It highlights the need for the maintenance of SEs as they provide an alternative business model which the researchers feel has proven successful in Scotland.

Author Social Value Lab
Published Year 2015
Report Type Research
  • Enterprise
    Social enterprise