Rural Development Plan – Social enterprise in rural communities
The Wales Co-operative Centre welcomes the Welsh Governments proposals for the Rural Development Plan (RDP) 2014 to 2020. We particularly welcome the focus on the role locally-led social enterprises can play in securing local basic services. Locally-led social enterprises delivering local basic services bring added-value benefits. They help to increase community spirit and build community identity as they bring people together to work towards shared aims. They also produce local solutions to local problems and needs by providing services designed and delivered locally. Furthermore, they have a measurable economic benefit. They provide jobs, training and stimulate the local economy. For example, Deudraeth Cyf works with unemployed people, disabled people and housing associations amongst others. They offer a variety of IT courses in Penrhyndeudraeth and in other locations in Gwynedd. Community-based social enterprises have also been established to take ownership of under-threat key services, such as Llanmadoc Siop y Bobl in Gower. You can read more about community-led co-operatives in our report ‘Community Co-operatives in Wales – Ordinary people doing extraordinary things’.
While the RDP proposals recognise the role of local social enterprises delivering and securing local services, it falls short of recognising their full potential for jobs and growth. The Wales Co-operative Centre would welcome greater emphasis on the ability of social enterprises to make a significant impact to the Welsh rural economy through jobs and growth. Social enterprise is a way of doing business that delivers sustainable economic growth while fostering positive social change and innovation. Social enterprises are anchored in their communities and any investment in social enterprises stays in the community and is recycled for wider economic and social benefits. While they often operate in hard to reach, economically challenged communities they employ more people relative to turnover than other businesses.