Expanding beyond Scotland

Around 7% of Scottish social enterprises – approximately 423 organisations – trade internationally

Our aim is to increase this number, opening doors to international trading for Scottish social enterprises interested in expanding beyond Scotland.

The process of beginning to trade internationally differs significantly for each organisation. It depends on many factors. ISEO partners have experience helping businesses of all sizes and stages expand into new international markets.

We provide guidance and support in many ways. Most of our services are funded by the Scottish Government, allowing you to access expert advice at no cost. This includes:

No matter what stage you’re at, we will meet with you to discuss your goals, current stage of readiness, and support needs. We will then identify your business development requirements, agree on an action plan, and work with you to make progress in each area.

Our market research provides real-time intelligence on relevant opportunities. We examine the viability of your business and impact models in your target region, so you can expand internationally to address global social, environmental, and economic issues.

Our services include conducting detailed market research, refining ideas, developing robust business and financial models, and creating business plans.

Trading internationally has many legal considerations, which include:

  • Due diligence
  • Routes to market
  • Legal structures
  • Contracting
  • IP protection
  • Duties/taxes
  • Banking
  • Standards/regulations
  • Anti-bribery/corruption policies

Working with our legal partner MacRoberts, one of Scotland’s top independent commercial law firms, we can provide you with expert guidance in these areas.

If you have an idea but lack capacity and resources to develop it, we can provide incubation services which include:

  • Office space
  • Business support
  • Management assistance
  • Growth funding and finance

Through our partners The Challenges Group and SEWF, we have access to their extensive experience of providing in-country support and connections to international networks.

The Challenges Group has operated globally for over 20 years across 4 continents, 70+ countries, supporting thousands of enterprises and people. Recently they have partnered with over 750 companies in Sub-Saharan Africa, establishing offices and teams in Ghana, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia.

SEWF is a key partner of ISEO and specialises in bringing global social enterprises, intermediaries, academics, private and public sector representatives together both digitally and in-person. Each year their events offer an opportunity to network with international attendees, learn and share best practice on key challenges affecting the social enterprise sector.

Once we understand your business potential and the market, we will work with you to identify commercial opportunities. We explore market linkages, partnerships and investment options with our partners to support your international growth.

Our ‘Team Scotland’ approach provides access to the £1.2m Scottish Emerging Economies Investment Facility (SEEIF) fund for international expansion. SEEIF offers Exploration Grants up to £20,000 and long-term loans from £30,000-£150,000 plus support to take your business further or implement your business idea.

Who we’ve helped

Thank you for your interest in the International Social Enterprise Observatory. To sign up to our newsletter, please complete the below form.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails. For information about our privacy practices, please visit our website.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp’s privacy practices.