Co-operative Development Scotland (CDS) has partnered with Youth Enterprise Scotland (YE Scotland) on a new initiative which provides the first comprehensive source of information on inclusive, values-led business models for young people. Together we aim to inspire young entrepreneurs to set up companies with a social or environmental purpose.

Gillian Kirton, project manager, Co-operative Development Scotland

To find out more about this innovative and exciting project, we caught up with Gillian Kirton, Project Manager at Co-operative Development Scotland.

“At CDS, we have seen growing interest from business leaders in co-operatives, employee-owned businesses, social enterprises, B-Corps, and community interest companies. This interest has grown further since the Covid-19 pandemic and as Scotland strives to become a wellbeing economy, there is a desire for change and for businesses to put people and planet on an equal footing to profit.  

“Our partners on the project, YE Scotland also report that the young people they work with are increasingly interested in developing businesses with a social and/or environmental purpose. This is further demonstrated by the research carried out by Co-operatives UK which showed two thirds of young people are looking for an ethical employer which treats customers and staff fairly and Co-ops UK believe that co-operatives can provide that solution. This sentiment is echoed by my own team. Inclusive, values led businesses have a positive impact for both the economy and society more widely. Purpose-driven companies have higher rates of employee engagement and are more resilient. However, despite the growing interest, there is still a lack of awareness of what inclusive models are and what they can offer. It’s this that CDS and YE Scotland hope to address through the Inclusive Models Project.   

“Together we have created a range of innovative, engaging and dynamic materials including videos and written cases studies that will increase understanding and knowledge of the benefits of a values-led approach in business. By bringing this information together in one place, we hope to inspire, encourage and celebrate more young entrepreneurs. We are grateful to have worked with a fantastic group of inspirational, socially minded businesses who contributed to the project and shared their story.

“It’s hoped that through our work with YE Scotland, via their successful programmes with schools and colleges, 16,000 young people will now be able to learn about the ever-increasing importance of such business models to the economy and to wider society.”

Our video case studies feature Brave Strong Beautiful, FutureX & WelcoMe, GUITARGUITAR, Jangling Space, Prickly Thistle and The Apprentice Store.

This is supplemented by written case studies featuring the above businesses alonside Beauty Kitchen, Edinburgh Bicycle Co-operative, Good-Loop, Hey Girls, The Turing Trust and Treen. These can be viewed here.

The project also included creation of a set of animations introducing a range of different business inclusive models. Each can be accessed below.

A full play list of video assets can found here.

For further information on the project please contact the Co-operative Development Scotland team here.