Kintyre is a global model for developing social enterprise

A delegation of Canadian officials visited Kintyre to learn about developing social enterprise.
A delegation of Canadian officials visited Kintyre to learn about developing social enterprise.

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Kintyre has been identified as a leading example of developing social enterprise after being chosen as the location for a visit from a delegation of Canadian officials.

Representatives from the Quebec government, different national and regional sector support agencies and social enterprises from the province visited Kintyre last week to learn about how Scotland applies social enterprise to economic and community development and how it is supported.

This knowledge will be used to inform development of current practice in Quebec.

Following briefing meetings in Glasgow and Edinburgh on Scotland’s social enterprise policies and practices, delegates travelled to to Campbeltown and the Isle of Gigha for study visits.

Last Wednesday, they visited Machrihanish Airbase Community Company (MACC), which this month celebrates 10 years of community ownership.

Delegates learned how the organisation takes an innovative approach to new economic opportunities, including capitalising on the space sector.

Speaking to the Courier after the visit, MACC chairman Cameron McNair said: ‘MACC was delighted to be asked to take part in the Quebec government delegation visit to Scotland and to share our experiences of community-led development of this unique asset.

‘It was fantastic to have visitors to the site again after the restrictions of the last few years and spend several hours discussing different approaches to challenges faced by rural communities across Scotland and Canada.’

The following day, the delegates travelled to Gigha to learn how 20 years of community ownership has benefited the island and the economy.

Jane Millar, business development manager at the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, told the Courier: ‘We were delighted to welcome the group from Quebec to Gigha and share learning of community land ownership in Scotland.

‘We spent the day showing the group around the island and discussing different issues such as housing, employment, infrastructure, transport, tourism and developing business opportunities.

‘It was a memorable experience to be able to share lessons with another country from across the world and we look forward to staying connected through the Social Enterprise World Forum.’

Mags McSporran, head of social enterprise development at Highlands and Islands Enterprise, provided the delegates with an overview of the region’s approach to social and community development and the enterprise’s contribution to economic growth and regeneration, showing how the contribution of social and community enterprise is making a difference in Kintyre.

Mags said: ‘It was great to welcome our Canadian colleagues. Social enterprise plays an important role in Scotland’s economic development, as well as tackling social and environmental challenges.

‘In our region particularly, they are extremely valuable in strengthening community resilience in rural areas.

‘For these reasons, Scotland is in many ways a leader in social enterprise practice and policy.

‘It’s heartening to be able to share our approach and experiences with other parts of the world, while learning from our visitors’ experiences too, and hopefully help them progress their ambitions for their own social economy.’

Béatrice Alain, executive director of Chantier, an organisation that supports the development of social enterprises in Quebec, said: ‘The strength and diversity of the Scottish ecosystem of support for social enterprises is comparable to that in Quebec, as are processes of co-construction of effective policy with government and kinds of social issues that are being tackled through social entrepreneurship.

‘Our delegation was particularly inspired by practices and policies aimed at facilitating community use of local assets and the expertise of developing social enterprise in rural communities.

‘We look forward to continuing these exchanges to support the effective and strategic development of the social economy in Quebec and in Scotland.’