Rural social enterprise: contributions, challenges and support needs

Vickers, Ian ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5863-969X, Owen, Robyn ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-4241-3367, Lyon, Fergus ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6275-4102 and Darko, Emily (2022) Rural social enterprise: contributions, challenges and support needs. Project Report. Newcastle University, Newcastle. . [Monograph] (Published online first)

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Abstract

The contribution and potential of social enterprise (SE) as a pathway to enabling prosperous, inclusive and sustainable rural economies and communities is examined using a mixed method approach: statistical analysis of the two available UK data sets from pre-pandemic 2019, supplemented by qualitative insights from interviews and a focus group with SE and rural economy support providers.

Rural SEs, although variously defined and measured, comprise up to a third of the total UK social enterprise population and nearly one tenth of all rural SMEs. They tend to be very small, highly reliant on volunteers, and often women-led. They mainly serve local markets and often address rural community needs where there are shortfalls in both public and private sector service provision. Key barriers relate to the operational costs of running a business, including the affordability of premises, and challenges of income generation, particularly in smaller and more geographically remote communities.

The supportive ecosystem for rural SE is patchy and perceived to be insufficient across much of the UK, despite many individual policy elements being in place and evidence of more ‘joined up’ support, pooling of resources and collaboration in some localities. While taking account of the diversity of rural SEs, the study identifies three key areas of resilience and dynamism which need to inform future support provision to raise aspirations and social-entrepreneurial capabilities across the rural SE sector:
• Income diversification and innovation - for resilience and sustainable growth;
• Pooling resources and knowledge of ‘what works’ - to overcome rural isolation and ‘smallness’ through peer-to-peer support, networks, partnerships and sustainable growth hubs;
• Engaging beneficiaries and community members - through inclusive decision-making for sustainable regeneration and democratic ownership

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Sustainable Development Goals:
Theme:
Research Areas: A. > Business School
Item ID: 36825
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Depositing User: Ian Vickers
Date Deposited: 23 Nov 2022 14:17
Last Modified: 23 Nov 2022 14:48
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/36825

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