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We’re Ready To Play Our Part In Recovery

Scotland Can Do Partners welcome Scottish Government commitment & “stand ready to help.”

Can Do Partners have welcomed the Scottish Government’s commitment to the role entrepreneurs will play in Scotland’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

The community of entrepreneurial ecosystem leaders & organisations, also known as the Can Do Collective, have responded to remarks made in Parliament by newly appointed Economy Minister Kate Forbes and says it “stands ready to help the collective drive to deliver our recovery”

In her first speech since taking on her Ministerial brief in the new Parliament, Ms Forbes set out the Scottish Government’s plans for economic recovery.

And there was a strong commitment to underpin the work of Scottish entrepreneurs saying they will be the “bedrock” of the recovery as it gathers pace.

Ms Forbes also said the Scottish Government would

“create the best conditions for entrepreneurs to seize the opportunities to produce, to invent, to scale up, and in so doing, create secure and satisfying jobs which pay a fair wage.”

Can Do Collective Convener, Hazel Jane said:

“Our organisations reach thousands of entrepreneurs and their teams every year. We’re uniquely placed to communicate opportunities, make impact and nurture the incredible ideas and talent emerging across Scotland.

“The Can Do Collective stands ready to play our part in this much-needed effort.”

In her speech Ms Forbes went on to say:

“This government is absolutely committed to being pro-prosperity, pro-growth, and pro-business – a true champion for our job creators.

“We recognise the crucial role that industry leaders, businesses, trade unions, economists and other stakeholders will play in shaping and guiding that strategy so, as set out in our ‘100 days plan’, we will establish a new Council for Economic Transformation to draw on their experience and expertise.

“Pioneers and entrepreneurs will be the bedrock of this transformation.”

Can Do Partners also welcomed the announcement in the same speech of a “National Challenge” competition providing funding of up to £50 million to “the project or projects with the greatest potential to transform Scotland.” Full details of this are still to be announced.

Support has also come from Lord Willie Haughey, Executive Chairman of Glasgow-based City Facilities Management Holdings Ltd.

Lord Haughey said:

“Recovery from a pandemic, which has literally turned people’s lives upside down and been a devastating shock for businesses, won’t happen overnight. But I am in no doubt with determination and vision it can be achieved.

“So much is at stake in terms of people’s livelihoods and this call to action is both timely and represents a vital endeavour we can all play our part in. Those with an entrepreneurial mindset will play an important part achieving this goal as we strive to restore our economy and look forward to better days ahead.”

Colin Robertson CBE, Chair of Entrepreneurial Scotland, who are the custodians of the Scotland Can Do programme added:

“This is undoubtedly the biggest challenge facing the country in terms of economic recovery in decades. It is up to all of us to work together to propel Scotland out of the lingering consequences of the pandemic. This will be a true team effort in which everyone has a part to play.”

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It’s On Us To Find The Entrepreneurs Of The Future

Read highlights from the Can Do Collective gathering on 11 May 2021, in conversation with internationally renowned author, speaker and enterprise facilitator, Dr. Ernesto Sirolli.

‘Entrepreneurs are made in bedrooms, not boardrooms,’ so says Dr Ernest Sirolli, the passionate founder of The Sirolli Institute, an organisation focused on finding and growing entrepreneurs from within their own communities.

‘If you go looking for entrepreneurs in your communities, you will find them. And you can teach them.’

Dr Sirolli was speaking to the Can Do Collective, a community of like-minded leaders and organisations working together to enable entrepreneurs of all kinds to flourish.

Dr Sirolli spoke passionately about his experience that successful entrepreneurs are not solely found in prestigious universities across the world. He sees this as a societal challenge we have to overcome.

He states that entrepreneurial support should be treated as a social justice issue. That everyone should have the chance to access support and services dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs of the future. He firmly believes funding should be more widely accessible, allocated to those at the heart of the community, available for local initiatives with potential.

Together the Can Do Partners considered the future of entrepreneurship and the verdict was pretty much unanimous, that properly educating Scotland’s young people in the art and science of entrepreneurship, was vital. Partners also agreed that mentoring and role modelling was key to creating a successful entrepreneurial society. Showing others the way – showing that entrepreneurs were not just found at the top universities but rather could be found in the heart of their communities.

Dr Sirolli agreed, saying that his Institute had worked with teenagers helping them to understand the entrepreneurial skills they already possessed. He acknowledged that not all students were entrepreneurs, which was fine. He shared his experience working with a group of teenagers exploring an entrepreneurial challenge.

The teenagers quickly realised they didn’t possess all the skills needed to launch and run a successful business, but they found other students within the programme who did. Dr Sirolli shared that there are three management skills needed to run a sustainable, entrepreneurial business – Product, Marketing and Finance. He demonstrated that by encouraging each of the students to work within the same skill-set groups to begin with, growing their knowledge and confidence, they were more impactful when they re-joined their skill counterparts to actually run their businesses.

Dr Sirolli then shared his view that humans have always had the capacity to be entrepreneurs. That certain individuals have the capacity to see something first and take advantage of it.

‘In fact,’ he says. ‘It was probably an entrepreneur that got us out of the caves.’

He likens this to human spirit. The passion that some individuals have to see a different future.

And he doesn’t agree that elite competitions are best placed to encourage true entrepreneurialism. ‘With competitions, we are creating eagles’ nests on top of the tallest trees, on the tallest mountains. It is unattainable for the majority. Even Steve Jobs would not have been able to enter these competitions today. We have to strive to create an environment that allows the maximum number of people to play the game. There should be no limit.’ In fact he illustrates this.

‘In the countries we have supported, every time we come into a village looking for entrepreneurial spirit, we have found it. And you should do the same. It’s up to us to find the best of the best of passionate people in our communities looking to transform their lives. It’s all on us.’

He closed by saying that in order to build a sustainable, entrepreneurial society one has to ensure a strong root system. He compared entrepreneurism to a forest. With a strong root system, a forest thrives and continues to grow naturally year after year, century after century. It doesn’t need artificial intervention.

The community is the forest.

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International Insight with Andy Stoll

Social entrepreneur & Senior Programme Officer, Andy Stoll, shares his thoughts and perspectives on entrepreneurial ecosystems and the power of friendship.

Responding to a New Era

In December 2020, Scotland Can Do Partners were honoured to be joined by Andy Stoll, Social Entrepreneur & Senior Programme Officer at the Kauffman Foundation. Andy shared his thoughts and perspectives on entrepreneurial ecosystems and the power of friendship, as we respond to a new era. Reflecting on Scotland he shared..

‘What I found so fascinating was the work that was going on across the entire country right across all of Scotland everybody working together, and how there was the grass roots bottom up and top down more government orientated, government funded work and that the bottom up and top down were coming together. I was so impressed, and I said at the time and still say that I am yet to see another sovereign state country saying we are going to do this across the entire region, in the United States we struggle with even doing it with the US states and you’re doing it across all of Scotland… I’m really impressed and inspired by what you have done.’ – Andy Stoll

Key themes covered in this talk:

  • Creating the environment for collaboration
  • Benefits of mainstreaming entrepreneurship
  • Reinforcing the Scotland Can Do vision and values

Andy Stoll wrote the Kauffman Ecosystem Playbook, leads their EShip summit and has done great work as a social entrepreneur especially in place building at Cedar Rapids.

To learn more, visit Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation | Kauffman.org

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Reflections on the Scotland CAN B Impact Economy Advisors Training

Can Do Collective Producer, Rachel Wallace, reflects on her experience as part of the first cohort of Scotland CAN B’s Impact Economy Advisors Training.

It’s almost three weeks since I finished Scotland CAN B’s Impact Economy Advisors Training alongside 15 entrepreneurial support professionals and business advisors invited to join the very first cohort. The training is designed for those who want to learn how to help the businesses they support to understand, define, measure, and improve their environmental, social and governance performance. Not being a business advisor myself, I was in a unique position aiming to:

  • Experience the training first-hand in order to actively signpost and champion it to business advisors within The Can Do Collective and;
  • Use the learning to support organisations in The Collective reflect on their own impact measurement practice at both an individual and (crucially for us) a collective level, as a growing cross-sector community of enterprise support professionals serving businesses of all kinds in Scotland.

Among the cohort were a number of organisations who belong to The Collective and align to the vision and values of the Scotland Can Do movement, including ConvergeInvesting WomenPurpose HRAAI Employability, and Tech Nation to name a few. This is a real testament to The Collective’s desire to play a leading role in building a wellbeing economy and harnessing business as a force for good.

For me, the training was extremely thought-provoking and challenging, and found myself really looking forward to the next instalment of coaching and peer-learning each week! We covered a variety of content including; connecting to the local and global context of the future of business, frameworks for impact, including the SDGs and Scotland’s NPF, and how to apply them in a business context, in-depth understanding of the broad range of impactful business models and legal structures, and using a selection of comprehensive and cutting-edge impact measurement tools.


The learning from this course and our strategic partnership with Scotland Can B will inform the Can Do Collective’s commitment to define and develop a shared measurement framework that will articulate and demonstrate their contribution to Scotland becoming a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society.
This content was broken into 8 modules and together comprised a cyclical, comprehensive and holistic ‘Impact Journey’ of understanding, measuring, and managing social, environmental, and governance performance. The ‘Impact Journey’ methodology covers a lot of ground but is extremely accessible, providing ample opportunity to pause and dig deeper into key topics, tools and frameworks but not lose sight of how each can fit into the overall impact journey an individual, organisation or community might like to embark on.

I would warmly recommend this training to anyone who is interested in growing their impact advisory skillset. You can check out the Scotland CAN B website and join their mailing list or follow on social media to get the latest information about applying for the next cohort this summer!

For businesses looking to understand, define, measure and improve their environmental, social and governance performance, ask your business advisors if they’ve heard of this programme or have taken part, and explore the website for more information on the tools and resources available to support you on your impact measurement journey.

More about Scotland CAN B

Launched by the Scottish Government in 2018, Scotland CAN B exists to build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good in Scotland, as a catalyst for place-based systems change. It is the first nationwide programme of its kind.

Scotland CAN B is an initiative launched in partnership between the Scottish Government and B Lab (the non profit organisation behind B Corp certification) to explore what happens when you combine the entrepreneurial, innovative and business for good ambitions of one country.

Scotland CAN B is on a mission to build a nationwide culture of business as a force for good in Scotland, towards creating a wellbeing economy.

There are two strands to Scotland CAN B’s work:

  • Strand #1: Fostering an Impact Culture: Cultivating coherence and alignment in the mindset, language, tools and frameworks used to leverage business for good in Scotland.
  • Strand #2: Developing & Delivering Impact Trainings: Supporting businesses learn to measure and manage their social, environmental, and governance performance, and understand their impact towards the SDGs and Scotland’s National Performance Framework, through ‘Impact Journey’ trainings for businesses and business advisors.
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Q1 Can Do Collective Good News Roundup

Passionate about demonstrating ways in which collaborative working between Scottish businesses can help to accelerate growth and nurture entrepreneurial spirit, The Can Do Collective has been a driving force for post-COVID recovery plans across the nation in recent months.

A number of recent collaborations show just how much of an impact, businesses can have when they work together toward shared goals; we have created the blog post below, which offers just a snapshot of some of the amazing news generated by a selection of Can Do Partners in 2021.

Hazel Jane, Entrepreneur Engagement Manager for Tech Nation and convener for The Can Do Collective comments;

“By working together effectively, we can dramatically increase the odds of success in our endeavour to make Scotland a Can Do nation. There has never been a more important or relevant time to drive the positive social and economic benefits generated through nurturing entrepreneurialism.”

Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) and Royal Bank of Scotland have joined forces to launch #FemaleBoss programme for Scotland’s college students

Can Do Partners Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) and Royal Bank of Scotland have joined forces to launch the #FemaleBoss programme for Scotland’s college students, to encourage and inspire more women to set up their own businesses.  The programme is being targeted at 18-30 year-olds through all further education colleges across Scotland, and is delivered through five online sessions hosted by inspiring Scottish female entrepreneurs.  The programme will also offer support through small grants, coaching, mentoring and collaboration, and hopes to spark female entrepreneurship among students impacted by a shrinking jobs market caused by COVID.

In Scotland, female-led businesses currently contribute £8.8billion to the economy and it is estimated that by helping female-led firms achieve future success, it could add a further £13bn to the local economy. Cabinet Secretary for Finance Kate Forbes comments;

“It is estimated that closing the entrepreneurial gender gap could grow the Scottish economy by as much as 5%, creating around 35,000 jobs. It is time we realised that economic potential, not just for Scotland’s economic future but also so that women can reap the benefits and share the enthusiasm and excitement of taking control of their own economic future – of being the boss.”

Scottish EDGE sees record applications for its business funding competition despite pandemic

Applications to the business funding competition delivered by Can Do Partner Scottish Edge have increased by 24%, with a record 305 applications for their 17th funding round which will take place in May 2021. The increase in applications suggests a high level of activity on Scotland’s start-up scene, with female co-founders representing 57% of the applications for the current round.

The social enterprise scheme is supported by the Royal Bank of Scotland, the Hunter Foundation, the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. It was first launched in 2013 and has since awarded more than £16m in grants and loans, supporting more than 420 businesses. Sir Tom Hunter has also funded independent analysis into Scottish EDGE’s past winners. The research carried out by Ekos, found that Edge-supported businesses helped generate more than 850 jobs and a gross value added (GVA) of £67.9m.

The RSE launches funding initiative to kick-start academic research in response to pandemic

The Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), Can Do Partner and Scotland’s national academy, has announced a new funding initiative to help tackle the impact of Covid-19. The RSE Research ‘Re-Boot (Covid-19 IMPACT) Research Grant’ – will provide financial backing for academics of up to £25,000 to restart existing research, or kick-start new work.

The fund was created to support anyone whose work has been disproportionately impacted by Covid-19, and applications are particularly encouraged from one or more of the following groups: those who have taken on caring responsibilities due to Covid-19, disabled, LGBTQIA+, Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) and/or Early Career Researchers (ECRs). Successful applicants will not only receive financial support but will also be part of a unique peer support network enabling the sharing of experience and knowledge from RSE Fellows.

New report highlights significant benefits to Scotland’s economy and society for business-academic partnerships supported by Interface

A new report, exploring the ways in which local, national and international businesses have gained from tapping into Scotland’s universities and colleges through the matching service delivered by Can Do Partner Interface, has highlighted significant benefits to Scotland’s economy and society. Dr Siobhán Jordan, Director of Interface, said:

“This report shows the significant gains right across Scotland, from the smallest community to the largest city, when innovation and ideas flourish through businesses and academic partnerships. We are in a unique position to make a real difference to all aspects of society through the connections we catalyse enabling world-leading research to be purposeful.”

The contribution to the Scottish economy from research and development projects between businesses and academics enabled by Interface, was £88.9m GVA (gross value added), and supported 1,595 jobs, with expectations to reach £222.3 million GVA and 3,193 jobs. The findings also captured the wider wellbeing and environmental benefits to society as the collaborative projects tackled major challenges such as health improvement, low carbon, community support, delivering education, helping young people, supporting international development and alleviating poverty.

Funded by The Scottish Government and supported by a dedicated team within independent charity Entrepreneurial Scotland Foundation, The Can Do Collective is a connected community of enterprise support organisations and leaders on a mission to build a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society.

If you’re a Can Do Partner, we’d love to hear from you and share your news! Get in touch and tell us your story via the contact form below.

Not a Partner and want to learn more about The Can Do Collective, head over to  https://candocollective.com/join-the-collective/

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Scotland CAN B Impact Economy Business Advisors Training

This week I am really pleased to be joining the first cohort of the CAN B Impact Economy Business Advisors Training.

It’s a four-week learning journey, specifically targeted at individuals and businesses who want to learn more about how to support, understand, define, measure and improve their environmental, social and governance performance.

Rachel Wallace – Programme Manager, Scotland Can Do

Scotland Can Do

Scotland Can B have been championing the Scotland Can Do ambition since 2018. My participation marks our team’s wider commitment to share achievements, opportunities and learnings so that every leader and organisation in the Can Do Collective has the chance to improve their contribution to building a wellbeing economy for Scotland.

Over the next few weeks, I’m looking forward to developing my understanding of good impact measurement practice and applying the learning to our context of building a community-level measurement framework with the Can Do Collective.

Perhaps most importantly, this journey will enable our team to support and foster a culture of impact across the community. It will not only accelerate our ability to understand the impact created by The Collective as a whole, but help them discover their own economic, social, environmental, and cultural impact at an individual, organisational level.

Collective Impact – why is this so important?

Because impact insight at both the community and organisational level will allow The Collective to identify and deliver on aligned outcomes, which will in turn help us prove that impact can be amplified and strengthened when parties collaborate.

I am really looking forward to getting stuck into the training and learning from others in the cohort. I’ll be sharing my takeaways with you and our Can Do Collective community on completion of the training so stay tuned!

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Living in Unprecedented Times

A message from Rachael Brown, Convener, Can Do Collective

“We have brilliant minds, innovations, impacts and most of all, kindness.”

It feels like the last week has brought home how much of a defining moment in our history this is, the world has changed.

It’s times like these that entrepreneurial thinking shows it’s true value, yes we are in troubling times, very troubling, but we also choose how to behave and can create the next steps ourselves. We have brilliant minds, innovations, impacts and most of all, kindness.

We, as humans, are defined by what we do in difficult times, I have read many stories over the last few days about local businesses cooking meals, creating food packs, sharing resources and taking time to support the most vulnerable in our society. 

This is leadership, this is community

The Can Do Collective is a community of enterprise support organisations from across Scotland, who represent each sector and are committed to building a world-leading entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society. 

We are focused on enabling entrepreneurs to flourish. We believe that innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship are key to the economic, social and environmental success of Scotland. We are committed to Collective Impact, collaborations and collective communications. We work in an environment that is supportive, challenging, honest and trustworthy. We believe that by sharing good work, high standards of engagement and continuously measuring for improvement we can and we do contribute to Scotland being the most entrepreneurial, innovative and creative society in the world.

We take seriously our responsibility, our place in the world. 

Over the coming weeks and months we will be visable and proactive in our efforts to support businesses and enable good work to happen. This will not be in traditional ways but we are not in traditional times.

Please stay safe,

Rachael Brown,

Convener, Can Do Collective 2019 & 2020

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Five things learnt at inaugural Scotland Can Do Scale Summer School

Five things learnt at Scotland Can Do SCALE

Scotland Can Do SCALE hosted its first summer school in 2015, bringing in top experts from the world’s entrepreneurial hotspots to teach and mentor business leaders of scalable businesses. The summer school was a huge success, teaching key lessons to entrepreneurs and business growers across Scotland.

Here are just five of the many lessons for scaling a business learnt in 2015 by business leaders who are determined to grow their enterprises and become major employers, earners and contributors to the Scottish economy:

1) It is not easy!

Scaling a business isn’t easy – otherwise everyone would be doing it – but how you deal with the challenges is what counts. A positive mental attitude, and a willingness to keep trying despite the many setbacks that will be encountered, it key.

Craig Lemmon, managing director of IT firm 2e-volve UK, said: “Some days it’s like I can float on air – on others it feels like I am pushing a tank up a hill… with the hand brake on. Either way, I always remember that we are still out there trying our best.”

2)  You need to know that the dog will eat the dog food.

They say it’s a dog eat dog world in business, but your customers don’t care about that. They are the most important people to your business, and you have to give them what they want. Whoever else you listen to, make sure you listen to the customer above all and ensure that you understand them and know they will “eat the dog food” as early into your venture as possible.

Callum Murray of mediation service Murray & Duncan said: “since attending SCALE, we’ve focussed on building products which deliver actual value to our customers. Given the process advice we’ve taken a concept through minimum viable product onto market ready stage and are now generating revenue.”

3) Planning and discipline are vital

To build a business of scale, you will have to plan carefully, consider the series of steps that each part of the growing process requires… and follow them with discipline.

Outdoor clothing designer Kristine Moody, of Team Magnus, said: “Planning a big marketing drive and product expansion means we’ve just started the process of fund-raising. Planning expanded operations has been hugely helped by Bill Aulet’s concrete advice on hiring, product management and market analysis. We employ his 24 steps on a weekly basis.”

4) Noam Wasserman’s topic “The Founder’s Dilemma” is critical – cash is king

There’s no way around it, scaling a business usually costs money. You’ll need to think carefully about your funding needs, have a plan of how you can justify and afford it, and find some willing investors. Decisions you make at this early stage of business growth will shape the entire future of your business, so careful planning around equity and ownership decisions can save huge issues further down the line.

Jim Law, founder of multi-platform app Find a Player, said: “Funding has allowed us to build a product which will be scalable to a massive audience. SCALE helped us to understand the mechanics of fundraising and make sure it was presented in the right way.. especially around the valuation.”

5)  Culture eats strategy for breakfast

Yes, you will want and need a strategy, but you also need your organisation to be enterprising, driven, and share common goals. That way, when your plans hit obstacles, there will always be people to find new ways around them.

Michelle Ferguson, managing director of St Andrew’s First Aid Training and Supplies, said: “We are much more entrepreneurial and ambitious now, and a have a more planned strategic approach to large scale growth.”