The Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme in Scotland has seen a 66% increase in applications this year, contributing to a 27% nationwide increase, with over 1,300 budding social entrepreneurs wanting support to start-up or scale-up their social enterprises.

Successful applicants to the fifth cohort of the award-winning programme, run in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs Scotland, will receive a year of practical facilitated learning, an assigned business mentor from Bank of Scotland, and a financial grant of £4,000 for Start-Up students.

Bank of Scotland is part of Lloyds Banking Group. The Social Entrepreneurs programme plays a central role in the Group’s Helping Britain Prosper Plan, which outlines its commitment to help businesses of all types and sizes to prosper, by offering them the funding, the support and the encouragement they need to grow at home and abroad. The Group is committed to supporting 270 social entrepreneurs this year and 1,300 by 2017. This year’s increase in applications to the programme reinforces the increasing desire Scottish entrepreneurs also have to make a difference to their communities.

A current student on the programme, Beth Hamilton-Cardus, co-founder of Suit & Pace, a community theatre company in Fife which creates meaningful learning experiences in a fun and engaging way, said: “As part of the Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme, I am learning additional skills which will help me to develop Suit & Pace even further and increase its sustainability. I have benefited greatly from being part of a community of people with similar goals and learning from their experiences and had the opportunity to work with a dedicated business mentor from the bank.”

Philip Grant, Chair of the Scottish Executive Committee, Lloyds Banking Group said: “The new generation of entrepreneurs are increasingly turning to social enterprise in order to create a positive impact on their communities and we are eager to hear their plans. We are thrilled to see an increase in demand for our Social Entrepreneurs programme in Scotland as this is central to our commitment to helping Scotland and Britain, through its people, businesses and communities, prosper.”

Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: “The increased level of applications in Edinburgh clearly demonstrates there is a real desire and appetite from ambitious and inspiring social entrepreneurs who are driven to help deliver social change in their communities. We are delighted with the response this year and look forward to helping the successful social enterprises start-up or scale-up their ideas.”

In addition to Edinburgh, Scotland the Bank of Scotland & Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs programme will be delivered at a further ten School for Social Entrepreneur locations throughout the UK. Each school will now shortlist applicants to go through to individual interview and a final ‘Dragon’s Den’ style panel assessment.

To find out more about the programme, please visit www.yourideastartshere.co.uk.

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