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Paisley Abbey soon to be ‘Smit’ten by social enterprise

Internationally renowned social entrepreneur Tim Smit, chief executive and co-founder of the Eden Project, will lead a Masterclass par excellence in Social Enterprise at Paisley Abbey on Wednesday 7 October.

The day-long event will allow delegates to immerse themselves in the reasons why the world needs social enterprises – businesses with a social purpose – which is now a growing business movement estimated to contribute around £2 billion to the Scottish economy every year.

Tim will be joined by Graham Bell, chief executive of The Kibble Centre, an education and care centre and one of Scotland’s oldest social enterprises, who will draw lessons from his own experiences of the need for social enterprise in Scotland.

Looking ahead Tim and Graham will assess the necessity for social enterprise for economic growth and the ability of social enterprise to be an agent of change.

Tim Smit has established a reputation across the globe as the inspirational and unconventional business leader who brought jobs and prosperity to rural Cornwall through the Eden Project - one of the UK's top gardens and conservation tourist attractions.

The Masterclass will be chaired by Antonia Swinson, award winning journalist and chief executive of the Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition – the national collective voice for social enterprises in Scotland.

Antonia said: “Social enterprise is setting the agenda for real change in Scotland and it is very exciting to welcome a world class social entrepreneur such as Tim Smit to Paisley, to share wisdom on how to grow this dynamic area of the Scottish economy. Whether you are in business, working for a charity, or a member of the general public keen to find out more about social enterprise from leading figures in this sector, this is a must attend event.”

Twenty social enterprises will also be exhibiting at the Masterclass, drawn from across Scotland, including five from the Highlands and Islands area, and interactive case studies from the Social Enterprise Academy.

Tim Smit, chief executive and co-founder of the Eden Project, said: “Social Enterprise is often described as business for the hard of thinking. The great challenge is for us not to patronise ourselves by thinking that social enterprise cannot be genuinely transformative on a large scale. It is in my view, a form of 'corporate structure or organisation' that has the potential to change the very fabric of society and business itself. If you want to go muesli weaving, wear open toed sandals and get in touch with yourself, go somewhere else, I'm not interested, because it won't change the world.”

Guest speaker Graham Bell, chief executive of The Kibble Centre, said: “We are delighted that Tim Smit is coming to Renfrewshire to lead this social enterprise Masterclass. We will share with delegates how social enterprise approaches can be adapted to a range of social issues and how problems can be turned into opportunities. It promises to be a lively day!”

The event will be hosted by Renfrewshire Council for Voluntary Services in partnership with Scottish Social Enterprise Coalition, The Kibble Centre Renfrewshire Council, Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce, Voluntary Action Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Janis McDonald, CEO of Renfrewshire CVS, added: "Renfrewshire CVS welcomes the calibre of the speakers and anticipates this will be a major local event this year. We are grateful to the partners for their support in bringing such a quality event to the area."

This one-off event will bring together third sector organisations, local authorities, chambers of commerce and representatives from the public and private sector and is aimed at anyone interested in social enterprise, business and community life, and in the future of Scottish business.

To book tickets or for more information visit or contact Anne Keir at Renfrewshire CVS on 0141 587 2487 or email