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Public set to boost businesses that give back

The pandemic has set the public on course to transform their shopping habits as they turn to businesses that give back. 

New research from Social Enterprise Scotland shows that 38% of Scottish residents said the experiences of lockdown have made them more likely to support social enterprises.

Currently a third (29%) of Scottish consumers have bought from a social enterprise in the last year, with 20% of these buying products and services from social enterprises on a regular basis.

But of those who haven’t purchased from a social enterprise this year, 46% highlighted it’s because they don’t know of any social enterprise to buy from.

To address this problem, Buy Social Scotland, a new online directory of social enterprises, has been launched.

It will feature a wide range of ethical gifts that give back, with products, experiences and vouchers ranging from arts and crafts to health and beauty, home and garden, clothing and accessories for adults and children, and sport and wellbeing. 

The directory includes 100 listings from social enterprises from all over Scotland. These include Invisible Cities, which trains people who have experienced homelessness to become walking tour guides in their cities and Mecoco, that offers work experience opportunities for disabled people to make eco-friendly candles, diffusers and soaps.

Also featured are Grace Chocolates where women who have touched the Scottish Criminal Justice System make exquisite handmade chocolates and The Blankfaces, the UK’s first non-profit fashion label, helping the homeless in Glasgow. Last, the social enterprise backed by the bassist from rock bank Frightened Rabbit and which helps consumers reduce reliance of single use plastics, is also in the directory.

Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government Aileen Campbell said:

“Scotland’s social enterprises have a positive reputation for giving back to their communities and delivering positive change while contributing to the Scottish economy. They are supported through the Government’s social enterprise action plan.

The Buy Social Scotland directory will help the public support their local communities by choosing to buy a present with a purpose this festive season.

I would encourage people to see if there is a good ethical gift option for their loved ones this year, so they can make a gift with a difference.”

A 2019 study by the Thompson Reuters Foundation claimed Scotland was a “rising star” when it came to supporting social enterprises, in part due to Scottish Government support for the sector.

Chris Martin, Chief Executive of Social Enterprise Scotland, added:

Scotland leads the way in social enterprise, but for too long many social enterprises have been a hidden secret.

With so many ethical shoppers looking to find great products and services while also helping to build a better, fairer society, now is the time for Scotland to Buy Social and support businesses that give back.

The public can find social enterprises to shop from at

Image: Shutterstock

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.

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