The Scottish government has announced the creation of a rural social enterprise hub alongside a £1m funding package for voluntary and social groups.
The hub, funded by a £27,000 government grant, will be based in Campbeltown in Argyll, western Scotland, and will establish a network for rural social enterprises to share their experiences.
It will also build on knowledge from other European countries by working in partnership with organisations from Finland, Estonia, Romania and Germany.
As well as creating the hub, the Scottish government has given out 17 grants totalling £1m to charities and social enterprises, including women’s aid groups, food banks and youth clubs.
Nobody from the Scottish government was able to confirm the names of the organisations that had received grants before publication of this story.
The funding also include money for a Brand for Growth programme, which will provide leading social enterprises with the opportunity to develop and grow their brands and customer bases, and for LaunchMe, an accelerator programme to support social entrepreneurs to attract private investment.
Aileen Campbell, the Scottish communities secretary, said: "Social enterprises are a vital part of our community and economy. They have a distinctive character and often play a role in preserving vital services such as community shops and transport, and in creating employment opportunities.
"The Rural Social Enterprise Hub will bring benefits to the local community and surrounding area in Campbeltown, sharing knowledge and best practice in social enterprise, both across Scotland and internationally."
Ailsa Clark, development manager for the hub, said: "This funding will give us the opportunity to learn from the rural experience to inform policy and better understand opportunities to use digital tools to connect rural social enterprises.
"This launch recognises the significance of social enterprise in the rural context, with 34 per cent of all Scotland’s social enterprises in rural areas but only 18 per cent of the population, there is much to be learned."