Eddie Wilkinson, Programme Manager, FirstPort
Setting up in business is fraught with difficulty, starting a social enterprise can be even harder. Social enterprises may face additional challenges; limited access to finance, limited expertise and in addition to creating a viable business they are trying to provide a social benefit.
Sharing business models is one way of making this journey easier. And for some aspiring social entrepreneurs this is already happening through Firstport’s social replication product ‘Ditto’. Funded by Resilient Scotland, Ditto is an off-the-shelf package that helps people set up social enterprises using tried and tested business models. Launched last year, it provides a budding entrepreneur everything they need to know about setting up a social business including practical guidelines, industry knowledge financial advice as well as business advice and support.
Ditto is a simple concept taking franchising principles from the private sector and applying a softer form of replication in a very localised way. It ‘s the best of both worlds – the private sector’s ability to scale up and replicate successful business models combined with social enterprises ability to respond to the pressing social and economic needs of their local communities.
Ditto works with successful social enterprises who are willing to share their secrets. So, future entrepreneurs know which questions to ask before starting out, have realistic expectations of what can be achieved and will understand the resources required to survive.
So far, we have worked with eight successful social businesses. Whether it be coffee shop, bakery, retailer, homecare or develop community transport scheme, Ditto could provide you with an off the shelf business model to help you get your idea off the ground.
In partnership with Resilient Scotland, Firstport has been able to invest in Ditto and as a result have lifted the programme to new heights. As a result, Ditto is now making a lot of noise across Dundee, Fife, Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Last year Ditto helped a dozen start-ups and hopes to match that figure this year. It will also seek to take on at least two more business models to offer up to aspiring individuals. Most importantly it will continue to strive to encourage social entrepreneurs to become involved and empower others to make a difference in their communities. After all, if we’re going to help bring about economic, social and environmental benefits and create more sustainable communities, we need to learn from one another.
For more information on Ditto visit the website.