Small businesses have long provided a heart to communities across Scotland, especially those in rural areas. Village shops, pubs and post offices become so much more than just a place to pick up essential items: they are meeting places, information hubs, a landmark for lost visitors.
However, many of these businesses are struggling, as bigger supermarkets and easier online deliveries force them to operate on tighter margins. Around the country more and more shops and pubs are choosing to close their doors, often as owners reach retirement age and find better value in converting their premises to housing.
A growing number of communities are now taking matters into their own hands and choosing to maintain these essential services as not-for-profit organisations.
Community Shares Scotland has been leading the charge to promote these community businesses. Delivered by Development Trusts Association Scotland (DTA Scotland), the programme is well placed to work closely with development trusts and community anchor organisations, to identify and develop their enterprising ideas and help to secure the funding to make them a reality.
This model of ownership is now well established, with dozens of examples in Scotland and hundreds across the UK. The support available from Community Shares Scotland is complimented by that of the Plunkett Foundation and Co-operative Development Scotland, giving access to the skills and experience of both trained advisors and other communities.