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Today we launch the Social Enterprise Census 2017, the definitive biennial account of social enterprise activity in Scotland.

Conducted by Social Value Lab, in partnership with a range of national agencies, the new research confirms Scotland as a world-leading nation in nurturing social enterprise and recognises social enterprise as a fairer and more inclusive way of doing business.

Among the headlines reported:

  • 5,600 social enterprises currently operating in Scotland
  • 599 social enterprises formed in the last two years
  • 34% of social enterprises located in rural Scotland
  • 64% of Scotland’s social enterprises led by women
  • 1:2.5, is the average differential between the highest and lowest paid worker
  • 81,357 full-time equivalent employees in Scottish social enterprises
  • £2bn GVA, the economic contribution of social enterprises to Scotland
  • 50% negatively affected by the economic climate over the last 12 months

Gerry Higgins, Chief Executive of Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS) speaking on behalf of the project steering group, said:

“Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2017 demonstrates a strong and growing social enterprise sector in Scotland. The data and findings in the report contain a broadly positive picture, with social enterprises making a significant economic contribution and demonstrating resilience in the face of continuing challenges for the economy and public services. Social enterprises play an essential role in communities across the country, particularly in the most remote parts of Scotland. The 2017 Census also shows that some parts of the sector remain fragile or in need of continuing support to fully realise their potential. This is the second time we’ve measured social enterprise activity across every region and this allows us to begin comparing and contrasting the data with 2015. As public expectations of business and the need for an inclusive economy grow, we need to continue investing in Scotland’s world-class support for social enterprise. A huge thank you must go to everyone who took part in leading the research, from the national steering group to the dedicated research team who produced such a thorough and robust report.”

Gerry Higgins, CEO, Community Enterprise in Scotland (CEIS).



One-page Infographic

The Summary Report

The Full Report


For further information about the Social Enterprise in Scotland: Census 2017, contact Jonathan Coburn, Director, Social Value Lab at





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