A QUIET revolution is under way in Scotland helping the plethora of small businesses that are becoming a major driver for the economy.
It’s called co-working – the process of a group of self-employed people or those who work for different employers sharing a working environment along with equipment, ideas and knowledge.
As The Melting Pot – a co-working pioneer in Edinburgh – celebrates its 10th anniversary next week, it is launching a Coworking Accelerator Network to help independent and quality co-working spaces establish themselves across Scotland and beyond.
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Figures from the Federation of Small Businesses show that small and medium-sized enterprises account for 47 per cent of private sector turnover in the UK, and 76 per cent of those employed only the owner. Many have tried all sorts of working environments, from the kitchen table to libraries and cafes, but the co-working offered by The Melting Pot offers them a chance to thrive within a supportive entrepreneurial environment.
Its founder, Claire Carpenter, said: “My dream was to create a dynamic and diverse community in my home city that shared a sense of collective purpose. We’ve had to learn how to succeed the hard way, and there were many times we thought it might not.”
After 10 years in business and with a membership of more than 180, Carpenter said The Melting Pot was now ready to share the secrets of its success through the accelerator network.
“It’s not been an easy journey, but we can make it easier for everyone else following us. The spaces we will help to create are hubs for social change where entrepreneurs want their society to thrive along with their businesses,” she said.
The Coworking Accelerator Network aims to connect internationally quality co-working spaces who share similar values. At its most sophisticated it provides the experience, tools, systems, templates, advice and even staff time, necessary to start a new independent, quality co-working space wherever you are.
It is also aimed at making Scotland a world leader in a co-working revolution that has social enterprise at its heart.
Communities Secretary Angela Constance said: “Scotland is a social enterprise world leader, and our organisations are becoming widely known for their high-quality services, which reduce inequality, lift people out of poverty and encourage more empowered and resilient communities. I am pleased to be backing the Coworking Accelerator Network which, when realised, stands to benefit numerous businesses and communities across Scotland.
“This activity is part of our 10-year social enterprise strategy, strengthening a sector that already contributes £1.68 billion to Scotland’s economy.
“At the heart of this strategy is our drive for inclusive growth – creating sustainable economic development, tackling inequality and building a fairer, wealthier, Scotland.”
Chris Hellawell was a graduate of The Melting Pot’s Good Ideas Academy, and went on to start the Edinburgh Tool Library.
“Claire and The Melting Pot have been an invaluable resource, which has been vital to our development,” he said.
“We’re now growing our membership, opening new workshops and training up people with skills so they can get themselves back into employment, and it all started at The Melting Pot.”