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May has been a little bit quieter for us but its been a nice change from the frantic pace of the last couple of months. It is good for us all to take a step back sometimes, see where we are, what we have learnt and decide what to tackle next. 
Japan was an amazing place. We met a lot of welcoming friendly folk who are a lot like us and with the same daily struggles too. We won't bore you with too many tales but our trip to the north of the country included a visit to 'Ground Work' which is the only social enterprise in Hokkaido, a region with a population of 5 million (more than 10 times that of the Highlands and Islands). We came back feeling very positive about the role we play here in the Highlands and Islands. And with an appreciation for the variety of social enterprises that exist in our area, and the services they provide. 

Here in Inverness we have settled in very well to 67a and our first tenant - Eileen Gardner from Social Investment Scotland - has also moved in. We look forward to welcoming many more co-workers and visitors over the coming months. The place already has a lived in homely atmosphere and a nice kind of buzz. But I suppose we must be biased! 

We will be in the Western Isles at the end of the month for two networking lunches and look forward to seeing you in Leacklea or Stornoway if you wish to join us for lunch and a chat. 

And staying in the Western Isles, our social enterprise of the month, is the West Harris Trust. This has not been a quiet month for them.

Competing for Contracts - Monday 25 May 12-2.30pm
Bays Community Centre, Isle of Harris, HS3 3EA

In the competitive environment of bidding for contracts can your organisation write a successful tender? This lunch will look at the tendering process and offer help and advice. Book your place here.

How To Think Like a Business - Tuesday 26 May 11am-1.30pm
Third Sector Hebrides, 30 Francis Street, Stornoway, HS1 2ND

Community Groups provide as much of a service as many other businesses we know and yet many struggle to think of themselves in these terms. This can often hamper development and growth and many miss out on funding as they cannot see past the 'business' badge. Book your place here.


Just Enterprise Workshops 


Negotiation Techniques - Thursday 28 May 10am-4pm - Inverness

Whether dealing with customers, suppliers, contractors, colleagues or Board Members, good negotiating skills are crucial to obtaining acceptance of your ideas or agreeing to contract terms. 

This beginner's course is designed for staff responsible for obtaining resources from Board Members or who negotiate agreements which affect the bottom line. 

To book your place click on this link.

Places for workshops are limited and are offered on a first come, first served basis so please book early to guarantee your place. Most workshops are free of charge for members/staff of third sector organisations.

Just Enterprise is a Scottish Government funded programme specifically designed to assist the growth of Scotland’s third sector. Visit or telephone 0141 425 2939 for details of the full range of support available.

Highlands Social Enterprise Summit - 10 & 11 June
 Kingsmills Hotel, Inverness


To help mark 50 years of supporting businesses in the Highlands and Islands, HIE, in association with Social Enterprise Scotland and CEiS, is hosting a two day social enterprise summit in Inverness next month.

The event will give social enterprise practitioners the opportunity to learn, network and trade with third, public and private sector organisations, from the UK and internationally. The two day event will bring together social entrepreneurs, public sector and commercial representatives to discuss the challenges and opportunities for rural social enterprises in achieving long term sustainability.

Delegates can nominate and discuss shared issues; learn about innovative rural solutions adopted by Canada and Australia; explore new business opportunities, meet and trade with local social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands and participate in study tours to experience first-hand their rich, diverse offering.

To find out more and to book your tickets follow this link

This Scottish Government pilot funding scheme, supported by SCVO, aims to support innovative and creative projects that increase the capacity of frontline third sector organisations to mitigate the impact of welfare reform, promote social inclusion, combat inequality, and increase partnership working. 

Successful projects will achieve one or more of the following criteria:

  • Expand/develop your organisations capacity in order to meet demand relating to welfare reform
  • Develop a pilot project which focuses on tackling the impact of welfare reform and inequality
  • Help bring organisations together in partnership to support people
  • Develop people’s ability to prevent themselves from reaching crisis point

Applications are invited from charities, voluntary organisations, social enterprises, community based organisations, volunteering bodies, co-operatives, housing associations, and credit unions whose annual income in the 2014/15 financial year was £200,000 or less. Grants of between £1,000 to £5,000 will be awarded.

The deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 29 May 2015.

This link will take you to the SCVO website where you will find out more.


SIS Workshop - Inverness - 17 June

Has your organisation considered taking out a loan? What challenges will this raise? What opportunities will arise from being in control of your own finances? How do I convince my trustees?

The thought of taking on loan finance can be daunting, raising an endless number of questions. However, in an ever changing economic climate, there is a real need to be able to make informed decisions about the different funding opportunities that are currently available, including taking out a loan.

Social Investment Scotland have teamed up with HISEZ to bring you a workshop on this topic. The workshop will provide an overview of investment finance; the chance to explore any ingrained and strongly held beliefs that may be hindering your ability to look proactively at taking on loan finance; and will be a conduit for one to one business and financial support if required by participants.

The workshop is aimed at third sector organisations who are already trading, but are looking to:

  • expand current operations
  • need bridging facilities

  • looking to increase working capital

  • wanting to purchase their own asset

  • convince trustees about social investment

The event takes place at the Spectrum Centre in Inverness from 12.30-4.30pm on Wednesday 17 June. 

For more information on this workshop and others please see here, or to make a booking, please contact or call: 0131 558 7706.

facilities which are not currently ava
ilable in the area. The aim is that
the Centre and associated developments will help th
e Trust in its target of increasing
the population of the area to 170 from 120, by 2020
The Trust owns 7225 hectares of land on the west si
de of Harris. They have initiated
various developments which help to bring in an inco
me stream to the Trust, such as
a marine shore base (income from tenants), wind tur
bines, and the purchase of the
school building (which provides them with an office
and space from which they
receive rental income).
They now hope to effectively develop a new settleme
nt based around the proposed
Community Enterprise Centre. The Centre will inclu
de space for community use as
well as business units for artists and craft makers
, a café, display space for
artists/exhibitions/community consultations, office
space for the Trust and its current
tenant in the school building, the RSPB, mobile hom
e hook-ups, and on the land
around it, affo 
The 120 strong community of West Harris became the first community to buy their land from the Scottish Government in January 2010 and the West Harris Trust was created. The 7225 hectare estate includes the townships of Luskentyre, Seilebost, Horgabost, Borve and Scaristavore and some of the most scenic beaches you will find anywhere in the world.
Since it was formed The Trust has initiated various developments which help to bring in an income stream. These include a marine shore base, wind turbines, and the purchase of an old school building which provides an office and space to rent out.
The largest of their developments to date is the West Harris Community Enterprise Centre. And after years of consultation, planning and fundraising, construction work finally began this month on the Centre at Pairc Niseaboist in Horgabost. The Centre will be multi-functional and will provide a range of services and facilities which are not currently available in the area. It will incorporate a community venue and meeting place, a café/restaurant, office space, business/studio space and an exhibition area. The venue will come with a bespoke marquee extension for larger events and wedding receptions thanks to the growing popularity of beach weddings.
Land adjacent to the centre is being sold by the Trust to Hebridean Housing Partnership for the creation of an affordable housing development of 6 houses. A number of plots are also being sold for self-build with 3 families due to start construction this year.
Renewable energy is also a key focus of the Trust with a 50kw wind turbine already installed at Scarista and another turbine planned to provide power to the Community Enterprise Centre. Planning permission is also in place for a 100kw hydro scheme.
Duncan MacPherson, West Harris Trust Development Manager said: “This is an exciting time for the Trust with the construction of the Community Enterprise Centre now underway. We have achieved a lot in the last five years but this is our most ambitious project and combined with the housing development should help us on our way to achieving our main aim of increasing the areas population to 170 by 2020. We are very grateful to all the funders who made the Centre development possible. This will be a great asset for the local community and it will allow us to create jobs, to generate more income and help us to become self sufficient.”

This photo shows the site of the new centre just before work began earlier this month. To find out more about the West Harris Trust, see their website.

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