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Happy 10th Anniversary to us!  HISEZ became a Community Interest Company in 2005. This edition kicks off the start of a special year for us so to celebrate we've got a competition for you, with a chance to win £350 for your organisation. We are also offering £100 and £50 for second and third place respectively. We want you to send us a photograph of the view from your office. If you saw our office view of Inverness Castle in last month's edition we think this makes a pretty good example.  And there's a reason behind all this. HISEZ is moving to new premises next month. We are keeping our new location a surprise at the moment - don't worry we're not going far. So we would like some new images to brighten up our bare walls. All entries are to be in by Monday 23 February so get snapping.  Please note that by entering the competition you give HISEZ permission to use these images in any future publications.  Email your photographs into us at the usual HISEZ email address or if you would prefer to post them please send to: HISEZ CIC, 81a Castle Street, Inverness, IV2 3EA. The HISEZ team will judge them and the winners will be announced in our March edition.

We've added two more dates to our series of networking lunches, come and join us if you can. We've also got an interesting opportunity to share for anyone looking to branch into the American market.
And as this is kind of a special edition for us, HISEZ CIC are featuring as social enterprise of the month for January. Our chance to remind you that we too are a social enterprise although many of you know it's not how we began. This piece gives a compact history of our organsation. Happy January everyone! 


Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise - Thursday 22 January from 12-3pm, Caberfeidh Horizons, Kingussie. Join us for a free networking lunch and see how HISEZ could help your business to become more sustainable. Sign up here for your free place. 

Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise - Tuesday 24 February from 12-3pm, Pulteney Centre, Wick. Join us for this free networking lunch and see how HISEZ could help your business to become more sustainable. Sign up here for your free place.

Partnership for Enterprise - Tuesday 17 February from 12-3pm, St Magnus Cafe, Kirkwall, Orkney. This networking lunch will explore the issues for social enterprises working together. Find out what has and hasn't worked for similar groups. Sign up here for your free place.

Building a Sustainable Social Enterprise - Wednesday 11 March from 12-3pm, Forres Learning Centre, Forres. Join us for this free networking lunch and see how HISEZ could help your business to become more sustainable. Sign up here for your free place.

Creating Opportunities - Social Enterprise & Young People - Wednesday 18 March from 12-3pm, The Spectrum Centre, Inverness. This networking lunch is specifically aimed at groups working with young people. Sign up here for your free place.
Just Enterprise Workshops 

Sales Training - Wednesday 28 January 2015
10am-3pm - Elgin Youth Cafe, Elgin
The workshop covers the fundamentals of selling from preparation to questioning styles, objection handling, and how to develop a consultative approach to selling. The course will discuss the sales process where behaviour is guided towards a desired outcome, culminating in the purchase of a product or service positioned in relation to the needs of the buyer.

This full day introductory workshop is ideal for those responsible for generating income on a day-to-day basis or for organisations who must now adapt to the "new economy". Whether in Retail, the Arts, or business start-up, we provide the foundations for successful conversion. To book your place click on this link.

An Introduction to Social Enterprise - Wednesday 11 February 2015
2-4pm - Inverness (venue TBC)

This workshop outlines the social enterprise scene in the UK and Scotland. After this workshop you will have a better understanding of the different sectors (charity, voluntary, social enterprise) and how they differentiate from each other. You will also acknowledge the range of skills, knowledge and aptitude needed to run an effective social enterprise. To book your place click on this link.

Social Impact Measurement - Thursday 16 April
10am-4pm - Inverness (venue TBC)

In a time of decreased funding and resources it is vital that your organisation can prove its social impact and the value it adds to society. This full day workshop provides an overview of social impact measurement and associated tools and techniques, including:

  • Social Accounting and Audit
  • Social Return on Investment
  • Other recent developments and methodologies

The workshop enables learners to explore why and how they should measure their organisation's social impact and how to incorporate this into their business plan.

Although heavily subsidised through Just Enterprise, please note there is a £50 delegate fee payable for attendance at this workshop. 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.

A Letter from America

Do you have a product which you think could be sold to the markets of New York, San Francisco, Connecticut or the Hamptons?

HISEZ are in contact with an American Company who are establishing their own social enterprise and are looking to sell items produced here in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. There are no specifications on the products only that you could envisage them fitting into the homes and lifestyles of the American rich and famous. They can be individual items or mass produced. If you have a look at this website - - it will give you some insight as to the markets being tapped into. 

If you are interested in taking up this opportunity please send us an email telling us about your product(s), how many items you could produce in a month and what your asking price would roughly be. Please include a photograph of your products too. Don't worry about being too exact at this time. This initial phase is about determining if you have the kind of product that could be of interest to the American market. HISEZ will compile this information for the company who will then consider which items are suitable. Depending on the product they may buy in bulk from you, or you would fulfil orders directly. Either way the ordering and all other practicalities would be handled in America. This is an ideal way to expand your reach by using an existing marketing mechanism and we hope social enterprises take up this opportunity. It is also open to the private sector and particularly small craft producers so please share this post.

Please email us by Monday 23 February with your ideas. If you have any questions in the meantime please contact Polly Chapman by email.

Interested in ethical investments? Then this opportunity could be for you.

The Sunart Community Company have recently set up a community benefit society (a type of co-operative) called Sunart Community Renewables (SCR) with an aim to build a 100kw community hydro scheme. The company are now looking for investors to support the scheme. Shares are £50 each, and SCR aims to offer 4% interest per year to investors - far better than any savings account. And even better, your investment will qualify for 30% tax relief, so if you tell HMRC you invested in this scheme, a third of the amount you invest will be taken off your tax bill. Effectively this means you could get the equivalent of a 10% return over the next five years (and a projected 4% thereafter).

The minimum investment is six shares (£300) and the maximum £100,000. The offer closes at the end of February.

The company intends to generate green power, sell it to the grid, pay off any loans, pay interest to all investors, eventually buy back all the shares and invest all net profits in community projects in and around the local area. 

Individuals and businesses can invest, although voting at AGM's is restricted to one vote per named investor, regardless of the amount invested.

To find out more go to the SCR website: or to go direct to the purchase site click on this link.

 Hospitality Business Opportunity in Assynt

The Assynt Community Association (ACA) are offering an interesting and rewarding business opportunity to run the café and bunkhouse within the Lochinver Mission. The café has seating for 45 and the bunkhouse can sleep 15. Both are within the same building situated in the centre of Lochinver close to the harbour, amidst the spectacular Assynt Landscape.

Expressions of interest with details of previous catering and hospitality experience are sought by January 30th. This will be followed by presentation of business plans and interviews with those shortlisted on 20th of February. A new lease will be available from the 30th of March.

Expressions of interest and further enquiries by email to Nigel Goldie, Chair of Assynt Community Association:

Highlands and Islands Social Enterprise Zone was originally created in 2003 as a partnership of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Social Firms Scotland and the Scottish Government agency Communities Scotland with match funding from the European Union (EU) through the EQUAL Programme.  Its purpose was to support and network existing and aspiring social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands.  

In 2005, supported by the board at that time, the decision was taken to become a Community Interest Company Limited by shares.  This was a new kind of legal structure which seemed to fit with the ethos of HISEZ, and it was the first Community Interest Company (CIC) in Scotland.  Since then, only a further 12 CICs Ltd by Shares have been established in Scotland, although there are many more CICs Ltd by Guarantee. 
Until 2008, HISEZ CIC continued to be funded in the same way, with in-kind support from HIE and Communities Scotland.  In that year the Scottish Government published an Action plan to develop the social enterprise sector in Scotland over the next five years.  The Plan made a commitment to have dedicated business development support in the Highlands and Islands. The contract for this support was put out to tender by HIE, funded jointly with the Scottish Government. HISEZ CIC successfully bid for this contract from HIE, to deliver support to the social enterprise sector in the Highlands and Islands from July 2008 until March 2011.

Having secured its first contract HISEZ CIC became more independent and started to flourish without the constraints of funding bodies and grants.  But as this contract neared its end it was also a nervous time. Would the company continue to survive and provide support to social enterprises or would another larger company from outwith the area take over? Could HISEZ manage without grant funding? 

By 2011, having been established at that time for nearly eight years, HISEZ had clearly made its mark and made an impact in the sector and with plenty of contacts throughout Scotland it wasn't long before an answer presented itself. Along with nine other groups based in the central belt, HISEZ CIC successfully bid to deliver the Scottish Government's contract for Business Support Services for the Enterprising Third Sector. This contract was to provide free, at the point of delivery, support for business development over a period of three years. As part of the successful consortium, HISEZ CIC were to deliver this support in the Highlands and Islands area.

During that time HISEZ also began to advertise their expertise to generate work directly from communities and organisations and offered services such as: Business planning; Community consultation; Options appraisal; Economic and social impact studies; and Market assessments and planning.  HISEZ was also sub-contracted by Social Investment Business to deliver support to BIG Lottery applicants, and by Adopt an Intern to deliver the Highlands and Islands European-funded programme.

This work, coupled with the Scottish Government contract, has seen HISEZ grow and develop and it now employs 5 members of staff, several freelance consultants, and its Board is made up of 10 people from throughout the area with varied experience. Last year the group were successful along with their consortium partners in bidding to deliver the Scottish Government's contract for Business Support for a second time round and will do so until 2016.

So what next for HISEZ CIC? Chief Executive Brian Weaver tells us more: "We hope to continue to provide the support that we do throughout the Highlands and Islands as long as there is a need for it. And as the social enterprise sector is accepted as a key component of the Highlands and Islands, particularly in the remoter communities where the private and public sectors often struggle to deliver services, we don't see this need diminishing anytime soon. Like any other business, whether it be for social purpose or not, there will always be competition and there will always be challenges. But competition and challenges make us what we are. Without our ability to change and look forward we would not be where we are today. And as much as grant funding has supported us in the past we feel it is our ability to generate our own income that has given us the confidence we have now. This is not to say we will not seek grant funding in the future but to be at a stage where we control our own destiny is very empowering.  We are a very content 10 year old community interest company and after doing some growing up in the last few years we look forward to another moving, changing, exciting and challenging 10 years ahead. "

Pictured are some of the current HISEZ CIC team and Board members.
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