Social enterprise

Shetland social enterprise expands

COPE Ltd in Lerwick provides employment and skills for adults with disabilities and has recently benefited from a grant of £122,350 from HIE to help diversify and grow the business.

It operates five enterprises - Shetland Kitchen Co, Shetland Garden Co, Shetland Home Co, Shetland Soap Company, and Orkney Soap. All profits and surpluses from goods sold are reinvested back in the company.

The funding helped COPE to acquire local food and drink company Shetlandeli to join its commercial arm as well as to recruit a marketing manager to develop a new website and products to access international markets.

HIE recognises COPE’s dynamism and willingness to take on new ideas in the pursuit of growth, development and community commitment and has worked closely with them since 2011.

Over the years, HIE has helped with training, developing growth plans and increasing financial sustainability as well as supporting COPE staff to participate in the Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service business improvement academy.

In addition to mentoring support from HIE, two COPE employees from have been supported to complete the emerging leaders programmes. The enterprise agency is also currently working with the company to develop an international strategy.

Fifty people are currently employed including seven supported employees who have learning disabilities. An additional twenty-four people with learning disabilities are able to access a total of 100 skill development sessions each week.

The social enterprise helps people reach their potential by giving them opportunities to learn in a supportive work environment where people understand disability but focus on ability.

COPE’s Shetland Home Co which offers reused products at affordable prices was last month recognised by Zero Waste Scotland. The high quality of its work was recognised by the  national quality ‘Revolve’ and EFQM certification which was introduced as part of the national drive to encourage recycling. 

Katrina Wiseman, Head of business growth at HIE, said: “Social enterprises make a huge contribution to tackling some of the social and environmental challenges facing communities.

“The enterprise is award winning for its vision and strategic direction, leadership and community impact and we are delighted to be supporting it to grow. A new website and rebranding will strengthen the brand, back up the quality of the products and support the promotion of the company for online customers both in the UK and overseas.”

Ingrid Webb, Chief Executive of COPE, said: “COPE Ltd has enjoyed a strong and supportive relationship with HIE for many years and we are delighted to be able to grow our business and access new markets through this funding. As a social enterprise we consistently strive to find ways of self-generating income that enables us to maintain and develop our social purpose. People with learning disabilities are valuable to our communities and societies and this funding will assist us build on what has already been achieved. We are very proud to work alongside agencies such as HIE which supports us to produce amazing products by amazing people.”

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