More than 200 delegates from three continents will gather in Inverness next month (10-11 June) for the Scottish Social Enterprise Summit; the first event of its kind to be held in the Highlands.
The summit will give social enterprise practitioners from across the country the opportunity to learn about, network and trade with third, public and private sector organisations from the UK and overseas.
The sector currently generates £53 million for the Highlands and Islands economy and employs 1,700 people. In addition it provides opportunities for 8,700 volunteers whose work is valued at £10.8 million.
Policy makers in the UK and beyond increasingly recognise the direct contribution of social enterprise to economic growth, social well-being and improvement of public services.
The importance of social enterprises in tackling inequality, creating jobs, developing skills and boosting the economy, is why it is a priority for Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), one of three organisations behind the summit.
HIE this year marks the 50th anniversary of its predecessor, the Highlands and Islands Development Board (HIDB). Director of strengthening communities, Rachael McCormack, has worked hard to bring the summit to the Highlands.
She said: “Social enterprises bring far reaching economic and community benefits to many of our most rural areas. They create jobs, attract people and bring investment. Our regions social entrepreneurs are very ambitious and optimistic. The sector is expanding and is well placed to drive further growth in areas such as creative industries, renewable energy, food and drink and tourism. Hosting this international summit in the Highlands offers practitioners and social businesses the chance to showcase their products and services, learn about and share what’s going on in the sector, and explore potential partnership and collaboration opportunities with other delegates.”