Ingrid addresses Social Enterprise Summit

Social enterprise COPE’s general manager Ingrid Webb has just returned from addressing the Social Enterprise Summit 2015 in Inverness. Ingrid joined the chairman of Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), Lorne Crear, Deputy First Minister, John Swinney, and representatives from Australia and Canada, as guest speakers at the event.

Ingrid said: “I was honoured to have the opportunity to talk about COPE’s journey, and share some of the challenges that we have faced - and risen to - over the company’s 16 years of operation.

“Other social enterprises were very interested in our story, drawing parallels with their own particular challenges, such as responding to funding cuts and working in rural communities to provide businesses that not only have the potential to trade successfully in a changing market environment, but also require a range of diverse skills relevant to their people.”

The event took place over two days. The first focused on presentations and workshops, while the second day allowed the enterprise companies to promote their particular businesses in the form of a trade fair. Ingrid was joined by her colleagues, Sarah Jackson (business manager) and Karen Blair (Shetland Soap Company production team leader) to promote Shetland Soap.

Ingrid continued: “We were absolutely delighted by the interest in Shetland Soap – selling soap far and wide, including Australia! We also had some very interesting business enquiries, which we are currently following up.

“The COPE model was held up as a very good example of a social enterprise that has responded well to funding cuts and repositioned itself appropriately to operate as successful businesses, while never losing sight of its core values and the needs of its participants.

“The repositioning of COPE and its individual business operations attracted real interest, as well as the subsequent rebranding exercise, carried out by Shaw Marketing and Design last year. So much so, that we have been invited to provide an advisory service to other social enterprise companies who wish to draw on our experience in repositioning and rebranding.

“Our other social enterprise colleagues were impressed that we had experienced a significant increase in trade across all our businesses since the exercise, and that our staff and participants also have a greater buy in to COPE, seeing it as an entity which they are proud to be part of.

“We were also proud to show off our brand new website, built by NB Communications, which reflects the new brand, our company values and the wider aims of the organisation, as well as information on each of COPE’s enterprises – Shetland Soap Company, Shetland Garden Co, Shetland Home Co, Shetland Kitchen Co, and Orkney Soap.

“We are very grateful to HIE and NorthLink Ferries for sponsoring our attendance and travel to the Social Enterprise Summit.”

HIE will also support Ingrid’s attendance at the Social Enterprise World Forum in Milan in July this year.