Unlocking Potential for Social Enterprise Networks

We are pleased to be launching a pilot project with the support of the Scottish Government to document the impact of Scotland’s Social Enterprise Networks (SENs). We will be working with 4 of the 24 SENs using our online social capital evaluation tool U>P ('Unlocking more than Potential').

Social Enterprise Action Plan

This work is outlined in the Scottish Government Social Enterprise Action Plan 2017-2020 which sets out the first steps towards  building as well as supporting a more sustainable social enterprise sector based on three main priorities:

(1) Stimulating Social Enterprise

(2) Developing Stronger Organisations, and

(3) Realising Market Opportunities 

The second priority 'Demonstrating Social Value' (2F.) is aimed at exploring ways which enable social enterprise to evidence the impact they are having across Scotland in a holistic, transparent as well as compelling way.

To achieve that the Scottish Government plans to 'Test new methods of demonstrating values' (2F.5) by testing measurement models and technologies such as ASC's  'Unlocking more than Potential' platform.

Demonstrating Social Value of Social Enterprise with U>P

Over the next year, ASC will work in partnership with four of the SENs using U>P to measure and evidence the value of their social networks.

U>P ('Unlocking more than Potential' ) is a cloud-based evaluation tool which allows social enterprises and other third sector organisations to measure, monitor and manage social capital by demonstrating positive change taking place in terms of connectivity, trust and the value of relationship networks.

For more information visit www.unlocking-potential.co



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Opening Access (OASIIS) for Innovate4Climate

BARCELONA, 24-25 May 2017. This week the innovate4climate summit takes place in Barcelona and we will be joining the event. Innovate4climate aims at addressing the Paris Agreement calling for global economic transformation by bringing together

(...) the sectors driving the future of climate finance and markets, (...) leading experts, technology and financing providers, institutions and corporations to explore potential partnership and emerging business opportunities within the next economic revolution towards low-carbon and climate resilient development

This is closely related to the work we are doing around Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserves as Assist Social Capital has been working actively around establishing Social Enterprise as part of the strategy in Biosphere Reserves towards Sustainable Development based on a social capital approach. The two main areas we work on at the moment are: 

  1. OASIIS ... Opening Access to Sustainable Independent Income Streams - is an easy-to-use online platform gathering socio-economic data showcasing the real and positive impact of local sustainable businesses who are delivering social and environmental benefits in and around Biosphere Reserves. 
  2. Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve Development Framework - is a development framework based on a social capital approach towards sustainability focusing on four main pillars of social enterprise, social investment, sustainable public procurement and public participation.

#OASIIS #innovate4climate

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Engaging Community Assets to tackle Social Isolation

In recent years there has been an increased interest and awareness about the issue of social isolation and loneliness.  At the end of last year Voluntary Health Scotland published a briefing paper identifying 'Loneliness: [as] a threat to Scotland's Health'. It focuses on what makes a difference in reducing loneliness and improving physical as well as mental health. In response to this challenging issue, the Scottish Government committed to developing a Loneliness and Isolation Strategy.

Linking in with this current debate is the Engaging Community Assets project we were involved in with the Royal College of GPs and funded by the Scottish Government (2012-2014) . The project also focused on better health and social care integration and therefore seems very current and relevant in terms of its findings and outcomes;

One of the main findings from the project was that there was an underlying issue of social isolation (...) identified by each of the communities.

The project successfully used social capital to build local relationship networks and engaged with social enterprises to enable partnership working as well as share best practice. The project also

developed a model that could be adopted by other practices in Scotland which could assist them to engage local community assets, focusing on this universal issue [of loneliness] initially.

View the project summary here >>


Social Enterprise – Unlocking Potential

Last week the Scottish Government published the new 'Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise Sector in Scotland - Action Plan 2017-20'  which includes a £3million investment for social entrepreneurs. It is aimed at boosting the sector by offering support to people and communities.

"...the plan will ensure that social enterprises play a central role in business and community life for many years to come."



The plan also  includes 92 commitments to realise its aims with some focusing on demonstrating the social value and impact of the social enterprise sector in Scotland.  One key actions will involve the Scottish Government supporting Assist Social Capital to pilot our Unlocking Potential social capital evaluation tool  for social enterprises in partnership with some Social Enterprise Networks.

OASIIS Launch!

O of OASIIS logoToday we are launching the OASIIS platform Opening Access to Sustainable Independent Income Streams.

The OASIIS showcases the real and positive impact of local sustainable businesses. OASIIS wishes to engage businesses in and around Biosphere Reserves who are delivering social and environmental benefits, and provide them an opportunity to connect with other like-minded businesses (locally & beyond) to share information and provide access to new markets and investment opportunities.

OASIIS presents socio-economic data, gathered from businesses in and around BRs working in harmony with the BRs aims and objectives, in simple, easy-to-understand graphics, the value that businesses (including social enterprises) bring to the local economies through sustainable development can be more clearly demonstrated.

Man and the Biopshere - OASIIS Platform launch 2016 from Assist Social Capital CIC on Vimeo.

A very special thanks to the SLG team, our software experts mentors, Lex Holt from Skyscanner, Sarah Rauchas from University of London and George Christelis from SimpleHelp Ltd, for their support over the last year with the OASIIS software platform. Support that has been and is invaluable in a field that till recently was unknown to us.

4th World Conference on Biosphere Reserves

Today the 4th World Conference for Biosphere Reserves on ‘A new vision for the Decade 2016-2025 – UNESCO Biosphere Reserves for Sustainable Development’ starts in Lima, Peru.

At this four day event Colin Campbell, the executive director of Assist Social Capital (ASC), will be hosting the official workshop on ‘Economics in and around Biosphere Reserves’. Colin’s involvement in the workshop came as direct outcome of the work ASC is doing on the role and opportunities of Social Enterprise in Biosphere Reserves towards sustainable economic development – specifically from the international conference hosted in October last year 2015. Previously, ASC also has developed a Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve Development Framework.

We will also be launching our new online platform OASIIS during the workshop on Wednesday on ‘Opening Access for Sustainable Independent Income Streams’. (Look out for more information on the day)

About the WCBR

At the conference UNESCO’s Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Programme and representatives from all over the world who work directly in and with Biosphere Reserves including from the biosphere reserves, government, community members and other related organisations/ institutions will address

  • A post-2015 Development Agenda for Biosphere Reserves
  • Issues related to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
  • Discuss progress & challenges related to Biosphere Reserves issues
  • Develop a new Vision for the future

The congress will also discuss topics around sustainable economic development, the economic viability of nature conservation systems as well as the protection and sustainable use of natural resources amongst others.

2016 - Napier Alumni Blog on Colin Campbell and Sustainable Development

Read the full blog here >>

6th Social Capital World Forum

Learning Villages: Connecting City and Citizens

Older men reading with child _ Shutterstock pictureWhat is a Learning Village

Based on the successful ‘test drive’ of the idea of Learning Villages at the 5th Social Capital World Forum in 2013 where we aimed at creating a space for ‘Creating Abundant Communities’ grounded in the approaches of social capital, sustainable development and participatory processes, in 2016 we want to bring the idea of Learning Villages to three communities across Europe: Glasgow (Scotland), Gothenburg (Sweden) and Dornbirn (Austria) as part of the 6th Social Capital World Forum to bring together and connect the 'Cities and their Citizens'.

The overall aim of the Learning Villages is to explore new ways and methodologies to foster social capital, trust and collaboration within communities to support them in building their own capacities and skills on inclusive local decision-making processes and policies which will enable those communities to come together and also bridge the exiting gaps between public bodies and their local citizens. The Learning Villages are meant to demonstrate that this kind of collaboration and co-production can provide a replicable model for local delivery through community-led initiatives.


If you would like to apply for the April Learning Village in Glasgow please contact scwf-info@social-capital.net. For more information on the individual Learning Villages, visit our Social Capital World Forum Website: http://www.sc-wf.org/scwf-2016/

You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter (@AssistSocCap) under #LearningVillage #SCWF2016 #Glasgow #CityandCitizens #SocialCapital

The next SCWF will be hosted in 2016 as a series of three 'Learning Villages' in

  • Scotland, 8-9th April
  • Sweden, 16-17th Sep
  • Austria, 25-26th Nov

Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve Event in Scotland – Featured BR: Galloway & Southern Ayrshire

Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere

Galloway and South Ayrshire Biosphere
Today we are kicking of our Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve event in Scotland. As we mentioned in our first article,  this event is hosted by Assist Social Capital (ASC). And after introducing the Swedish  Lake Vänern Biosphere, we are introducing the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere where the conference will be hosted at.


About the Biosphere Reserve

Initially, Cairnsmore, Silver Flowe and Merriick Kells became an UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve (BR) in 1976. But when UNESCO redefined Biosphere Reserves in the 1990s, this meant that the existing biosphere reserve needed to be broadened and redefined, as well, focusing more - next to conservation and research - on the people's relationship with the environment which meant including more social as well as economic aspects and how they can be brought together with nature. This redefinition of the biosphere reserve meant that existing BRsGalloway and South Ayrshire - Cornish_Hill needed to decide whether they want to carry the new model forward or withdraw from the designation. After local consultations, the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire put forward an application to be designated under the new criteria.  In 2012, the designation for the 'new' biosphere was approved. The new Biosphere Reserve covers an area of 526,888 hectare in the South of Scotland. 

(read more about the biosphere here)

Support the economy to benefit people and nature

This principle to support the economy to benefit people and nature is one of the six principles of the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Charter which defines its values and principles. Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere pulluphydrostnSubsequently, one of the key goals of the biosphere is also to foster a sustainable economy and society within which businesses can develop: "Evidence suggests that successful Biospheres are those where businesses and communities actively collaborate, sharing ideas and good practice of social, economic and environmental sustainability. Working together to develop mutual understanding and for common purpose can help develop new ideas and better, more joined up ways of working, which themselves can better focus existing resources and attract additional resources." (G&SA website: Business Development)


Galloway and South Ayrshire - lochdeeYou can follow our conversations on the event and online on Facebook and Twitter @AssistSocCap under #SEBRScotland #Biosphere Reserves #WCBRLima #Social Enterprise







Our Development Framework

Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve Event in Scotland – Featured BR: Lake Vänern

Lake Vänern Archipelago Biosphere Reserve, Sweden

As part of our Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserve Event in Scotland at the end of the month, we are featuring some of the attendees biosphere reserves who are already working with this approach. As mentioned in our first article, the event is hosted by Assist Social Capital and co-facilitated by Colin Campbell (Assist Social Capital) and Johanna MacTaggart who is the coordinator of MAB Sweden and the Lake Vänern Archipelago Biosphere Reserve.

Lake Vanern BR -Sweden- LogoAbout the Biosphere Reserve

The Archipelago and Mount Kinekulle became an UNESCO designated Biosphere Reserve in 2010. It is covers part of the Lake Vänern drainage basin and involves three local municipalities encompassing an area of ca. 278.600 hectare with about 75.000 inhabitants. The Biosphere Reserve itself is run as a non-profit organisation.

(get more info on the BR here)

A socio-environmentally responsive business model

As one of the largest inland lakes and fresh water reserves within Europe, Lake Vänern also has one of the largest fishing fleets. The sustainability of this ecosystem is crucial for the region to ensure clean water, a healthy fish population and food quality. This aspect of sustainable livelihoods alongside maintaining biodiversity provides a common ground for collaboration from  industries as differing as Ecotourism and Fisheries. Along the same line Social entrepreneurship provides the local economy with a business model directly deriving from social as well as environmental challenges. This provides an innovative and entrepreneurial approach responsive to socio-environmental as well as socio-economic needs in the region.

Additionally, stakeholder collaboration has been encouraged in the region to ensure that local decision-makers, businesses and civil society can overcome issues through taking joint responsibility on developing, ensuring and maintaining the Lake Vänern Biosphere.


Social Media Icons - Commons PictureYou can also contribute to and/or follow our conversations on the event and the related issues on Facebook and Twitter @AssistSocCap under #SEBRScotland #Biosphere Reserves #WCBRLima #Social Enterprise


Our Development Framework

Social Enterprise and Biosphere Reserves Event in Scotland II

Towards a World MAB Social Enterprise Strategy (2016-2025)

SCOTLAND, as announced a few weeks ago Assist Social Capital will be hosting a conference on social enterprise and biosphere reserves at the Galloway & Southern Ayrshire Biosphere Reserve. The meeting is aimed at bringing national as well as international participants from biosphere reserves together to contribute to the MAB Action Plan 2016-2015 which will be launched in Lima next year.

UNESCO 4th WCBR LimaA new Action Plan for the WNBR

The aim of the 4th World Congress of Biosphere Reserves is to create a post-2015 agenda for the World Network of Biosphere Reserves (WNBR). Therefore, the Madrid Action Plan for Biosphere Reserves (2008-2013) as well as the Seville Strategy and the Statutory Framework (1995) will be reviewed to identify and discuss progress made, lessons learnt and old as well as new challenges for the WNBR. The expected outcome of the congress is to create the Lima Declaration and the Lima Action Plan for 2016-2025 which will outline the role of biosphere reserves for sustainable development over the next decade.

Including Social Enterprise in the new Action Plan

As sustainable development aims at achieving a balance between social, economic as well as environmental factors, social enterprise provide a valuable solution as they are value-based businesses which reinvest their profits in social and environmental benefits to their local as well as wider communities. Therefore, we already have developed the Social Enterprise & Biosphere Reserves Development Framework as part of our work with a EuroMAB working group aiming at introducing the concept of social enterprise into biosphere reserves. Together with our partners in Europe but also further abroad in Canada and Asia, we have worked on bringing this idea into the WNBRs.

Social Media Icons - Commons PictureYou can also contribute to and/or follow our conversations on the event and the related issues on Facebook and Twitter @AssistSocCap under #SEBRScotland #Biosphere Reserves #WCBRLima #Social Enterprise


Our Development Framework