Published 19 January 2017
A befriending service for the elderly, a design studio, a support system for ex-offenders and a project to market Bowling Harbour as a destination are the latest to benefit from a Council fund aimed at improving the economy and creating sustainable jobs.
The Social Enterprise Challenge Fund was launched by the Council in 2012 to help create local businesses that address social or environmental needs, and offer new employment opportunities.
Successful applicants receive investment of up to £15,000 and the latest recipients of funding represent a diverse range of innovative, community-focused ideas.
Now in its fourth year, the Social Enterprise Challenge Fund was set up with an investment of £225,000 and sees the Council working alongside Scotland’s social enterprise development agency Firstport. Firstport helps applicants develop a case for funding before they approach the Council for consideration.
This year, the programme has awarded four successful applicants with funding support to get their ideas off the ground after they impressed a panel of experts in a Dragon’s Den-style presentation. As well as meeting the essential criteria, all four winning proposals were able to demonstrate how their service would benefit financially challenged people and families across West Dunbartonshire.
The successful applicants were:
Councillor Patrick McGlinchey, Convener of Infrastructure and Regeneration, said: "Once again this fund has helped to unearth some excellent social enterprises with creative business ideas that will benefit the local community. The purpose of the Social Enterprise Challenge is to support enterprising and innovative activities which address social and environmental challenges to achieve greater social impact and create local job opportunities. My congratulations go to Audrey, Alison, Alan and Jain and I hope that, with this help, they go from strength to strength and inspire others."
Proposals for the Social Enterprise Challenge should be from local individuals or groups proposing to operate in West Dunbartonshire and should be able to show that they have:
• A new business idea with clear social benefits for the local area
• The ability to create local job opportunities
• A proposal which identifies clear outputs and impacts
• The ability to define sustainability for the business
• The drive and vision to take the idea forward
Councillor David McBride, Vice Convener of Infrastructure and Regeneration, added: "The social enterprise fund is just one of the ways that we as a Council are supporting businesses and job creation. The four successful applicants for this latest round of funding have all come up with great ideas I look forward to seeing them take shape with the help of the Social Enterprise Challenge fund. I would encourage any individual or group with an idea, to contact the Council's Business Support team on 01389 737777, or e-mail email@example.com for further information."
Audrey Mutongi, of Befriend, said: “The funding has helped us get a team of passionate volunteer coordinators together to support our growing team of dedicated volunteers. It has been such a positive move that has helped us to support more people in West Dunbartonshire who find themselves lonely or isolated.”