Hub for social enterprises launched in Edinburgh in groundbreaking move.
Montgomery Street Lane will bring together four leading support agencies to host social enterprises and charities.
A new hub for social entrepreneurs, start-ups charities and SMEs launches in Edinburgh.
The Montgomery Street Lane venture, based in the capital, is a collaboration between four of the country’s leading support agencies, Firstport, Challenges Group, Project Scotland and Volunteering Matters.
The aim is for Montgomery Street Lane to provide a “one-stop shop” for ambitious social businesses and charities while also acting as a focal point for impact investors targeting enterprises that are addressing social challenges.
“The vision for Montgomery Street Lane is a bold one,” said Josiah Lockhart, Firstport’s chief executive.
“We’re building an enterprise support network for social entrepreneurs and impact investors, for start-ups and SMEs looking to grow, expand and export. We’re focused on making it a place of optimism, opportunity and outcomes.”
He added: “We’re offering these individuals a place where key support services are in one location, and where each of the Lane residents can collaborate on offering a joined-up and partnership approach to business development and growth.”
The four organisations behind the new Montgomery Street Lane venture have between them 90 years’ experience across a range of fields including business consultancy, management training, exports, seed funding, impact investment, business support services, volunteering , international development, marketing and communications, and project management.
All of us at #MontgomeryStreetLane are excited about our new social innovation hub, with the likes of @ChallengesGroup @Firstport @ProjectScotland and @volunteer_scot collaborating with friends on future projects. Great to see our story in @ThirdForceNewshttps://t.co/Ia4z7KC2tm pic.twitter.com/Y2q25TzZow
— Montgomery Street Lane (@MontgomeryStLn) October 12, 2019
Together they have about 40 staff as well as volunteers working out from the refurbished 19th-century mews houses just off Elm Row.
Lockhart added: “We’ve seen the model operating successfully and impactfully in other countries, such as in Sweden, but this is the first of its type in Scotland.”
Alexandra Baker, director of Challenges, said: “Montgomery Street Lane is where an entrepreneur can come and have their business idea scrutinised, supported, and turned into a viable strategic plan that can then grow into a sustainable business.
“Together, Challenges, Firstport, ProjectScotland and Volunteering Matters bring a range of business options, such as management training, internships, volunteering opportunities, project management, and of course export and international market linkages. Seed funding and catalysing is another offering, as is investment should a business owner be looking to scale up, for example.” Baker cited the example of Clean Water Wave, a social enterprise that has developed a revolutionary water filter system that can remove micro- and nano-plastics as well as other toxins and pollutants from the water supply.
“Clean Water Wave were introduced to us through Firstport and, through our Scottish Government-funded Access Africa Programme, we are now working with them to explore opportunities to provide clean drinking water in Rwanda and other African countries where we have a presence.”
She added: “Giraffe Healthcare, Lilypads and Bampoo are similar examples of social businesses that have worked with our Lane partner Firstport and then joined our AAP scheme to explore export opportunities.”
Paul Reddish, chief executive of Volunteering Matters and ProjectScotland, said: “The collaborative culture here at Montgomery Street Lane has significant advantages and, quite simply, means our combined offering is far greater than the sum of its parts.
“But it is also greatly benefits the residents here. It means, for example, the residents can partner on joint programmes, and we’re already seeing the fruits of that.”
Montgomery Street Lane, will aim to give start-up entrepreneurs and people from other businesses and agencies access to a fully serviced drop-in hotdesking service where they would be able to network and get advice from a range of experts, while partner agencies would be able to use the various spaces for workshops, conferences and other events.
A partnership with the city’s iconic Valvona & Crolla deli next door brings access to V&C’s theatre space, as well as discounts on their coffee and catering.
The above article by Ken Symon first published on insider.co.uk in Oct, 2019.