About the Rural Social Enterprise Hub

Rural SE Launch

There is something distinctive about rural social enterprise. Figures from the most recent Social Enterprise in Scotland Survey 2019 show that:

  • Scotland’s rural and remote areas have 33% of all social enterprises in Scotland and yet just 17% of the population.
  • There are 23 social enterprises per 10,000 people in rural areas compared to 9 in urban areas.
  • The top regions per 10,000 of population are islands:(Shetland 47, Nan Eilean Siar 45, Orkney 31).
  • 24% of all rural social enterprises cover a neighbourhood/ community and are accountable to people in that area.
  • 37% report starting trading in response to market failure.

The full survey is available at www.socialenterprisecensus.org.uk


While social enterprises in rural areas are diverse, they face particular challenges in terms of logistics, costs, market size, demographic change and the withdrawal of public services. At the same time opportunities are presented by natural resources, the tradition of enterprising communities and collective leadership. In many areas, small, locally focused social enterprises play a crucial role in sustaining vital services for rural communities.

Recognising an opportunity to learn from the rural experience, the Scottish Government have provided a small amount of support to Inspiralba to establish a Rural Social Enterprise Hub.

This will:

  • Work collaboratively to build the knowledge base on rural social enterprise and the unique characteristics that allow rural areas to develop enterprising solutions to the challenges they face. See research pages on the Resources tab.
  • Develop peer to peer learning and knowledge exchange opportunities both nationally and internationally. See learning materials on the ViSENet tab.
  • Identify learning in relation to the broader agenda of inclusive growth and the move from an economy focused on growth to one focused on well-being. Log in to access the hub community and join in forums and groups.
  • Download the Members Guide Here.

A short presentation on the project:

We need your input. Engage with the hub to develop a strong voice for rural social enterprise and ensure that its contribution and support needs are recognised.

The Rural SE Hub Contents:

Latest News

Will be a source of information on issues affecting rural social enterprise. We will add items but as the community build, please post your news. That way the hub will be of wider interest and have wider reach.

The Directory

This is a key element of the hub. Register your rural social enterprise here so others can see where you are, what you are doing and make contact with you. You will also be able to search the Directory to find other social enterprises near to you or working in other parts of Scotland or Europe in similar sectors.

Learning Resources

A core aim of the hub is to provide access to on-line learning resources for rural social enterprise

We are delighted to host the materials developed by ViSENet Village Social Enterprise learning material, guidance and networking – project to promote social entrepreneurship in rural areas. These materials are being developed by an innovative Erasmus Partnership which brings together different disciplines from the key partner agencies:

Modules 1 and 2 are available now with module 3 to follow.

All materials are free to download.

Please contact us if you have on-line material that you are willing to post on the hub or if you are interested in developing on-line content for rural social enterprise.


We want the hub to be the go-to place for information about rural social enterprise in Scotland, in Europe and via our links to the Social Enterprise World Forum, more widely. This section collates information on research, policy and case studies.

Research: (Existing, Current & Future Research)

Research on rural social enterprise is patchy, scattered and relatively undeveloped.

Scotland leads the way in much of this research but finding are not always accessible to those running social enterprises. This can result in practice and also policy that is not as evidence based as it could be.

In this section you will find:

Existing research articles and reports on rural social enterprise

  • Details of academic articles and reports that focus on different elements of rural social enterprise from Scotland and further afield.
  • Papers that have been produced as part of the work of the hub – conference presentations, briefing papers, reports produced by hub members. Please add anything you think will be of interest to other rural social enterprises.

Current research on rural social enterprise:

Here we want to develop an up to date list of current research.

If you are involved in a project and are willing to share the details, please send us an outline.

Also if you are looking for research partners we are happy to post information.

The future research agenda for rural social enterprise:

We think that the future research agenda should be influenced by rural social enterprises themselves and will be holding on-line sessions/polls to establish future research priorities. This is the space to watch for further details.


This section brings together policy documents of interest to rural social enterprises. It currently has two sections –International Policy and Scotland. For each document there is a brief introduction highlighting its relevance to rural social enterprise together with links for further information.

As this section develops we want to highlight and share policy documents that you find most useful in making the case for rural social enterprise. Contact us if there are key documents you think we should cover.

Case Studies:

We have several case studies in the pipeline and are on the look-out for video clips, photographs, written material that highlight the experience of running a rural social enterprise.

Get in touch if you would be interested in featuring on the rural hub.


This is where the hub will help you connect with rural social enterprises in Scotland, Europe and worldwide. Register on the hub and you will have access to a network of rural social entrepreneurs for peer to peer support, learning and development.

You can make connections, set up and get involved in on-line user groups and forums and post documents and information you want to share with others.

We will improve the functionality of this section in response to your feedback, so please use it and tell us how it is.

Subscribe to updates to the website. You will receive email notification when new posts are added.

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