Edinburgh Napier University had the opportunity to host a round table discussion around sustainable business models and Social Enterprise, featuring industry speakers together with a delegation from Vietnam. The event was organised by Assist Social Capital with the support of Bright Red Triangle.
The event took place on Monday afternoon in Merchiston campus’ Glassroom. The mixture of cultures, disciplines, and experience provided the grounds for a thought provoking discussion, which managed to shed light on the importance of businesses that go beyond profit.
The session was kicked off by Nick Fannin, Head of Bright Red Triangle, with a presentation encompassing Edinburgh Napier University’s activities, our vision, mission, and strategic objectives for the coming year.
Colin Campbell from Assist Social Capital then took to the stage, giving detailed information of the organisation’s activities, aspirations, and goals.
Assist Social Capital is a social enterprise based in Edinburgh which works to promote the strategic use of social capital and social enterprise towards sustainable and resilient communities. Assist Social Capital has developed two impact software tools, Unlocking Potential, and OASIIS which collate data, which is then used to accelerate positive change for people and planet. They have built partnerships internationally and have worked in Vietnam since 2013.
This was then followed by a detailed presentation by Senior Lieutenant, Assoc. Prof. Nguyen Van Thanh. Member of Central Party Committee, Vice Minister of Public Security, Member of the International Society for Systems Sciences. The Vice Minister presented a model of thinking and operations that was implemented in Vietnam, and furthermore, Prof. Thanh’s model is in the process of being adopted nationwide.
It was enlightening to see the similarities and differences in the approach adopted by the Vietnamese. In Scotland, the notion of Social Enterprise has a solid foundation, which has been gradually developed over the past twenty years. The skills base, together with the capital put aside by the devolved government, have made it possible for this particular business model to thrive.
The talk by Aidan Pia, Executive Director of Senscot (Social Entrepreneurs Network Scotland) gave the attendees an overview of the history and evolution of Social Enterprise in Scotland. It was inspiring to hear Aidan’s reflections on the first years of Senscot’s launch where resilience and determination was key in the network’s success. It was a combination of passion and patience that led to the establishment of, now numerous, Social Entrepreneur Networks across the country.
Building on that presentation, Firstport’s Chief Executive, Josiah Lochart, took to the stage to give us an overview of the organisation’s activities in Scotland. Whether it is just an idea, or a functioning business, FirstPort can assist at any stage of a social entrepreneur’s journey.
Will-Tyler Greig is the Head of Social Enterprise, Social Innovation and Social Investment at the Scottish Government. It was interesting to hear the current position of our government, together with its future plans and past achievements.
The Government’s Social Enterprise Strategy can be found here.
A question and answer session followed, with some challenging questions posed from the student audience, as well as members of the Vietnamese Delegation. The event was then rounded up by Colin Campbell from Assist Social Capital, followed by a group photograph, and exciting plans for future events.