Supporting Growth

The bread and butter of Jim’s last 30 years’ professional work has been in strategy development, business planning, finance, and funding.

Social Enterprise

Jim has a lifetime’s track record in building social enterprise.  Experience includes geographically community owned and controlled organisations, with others been developed as result of  issues faced by thematic communities. Examples include those employing people with convictions, like Freedom Bakery CIC, or for those facing employment barriers because of their long-term conditions, like SKS Scotland CIC. Both these social enterprises operate as profitable, non-grant funded commercially trading entities. Jim has also happily worked with community organisations developing trading models subsidised by grant funding.

Jim has developed an additional specialism in working on residential and care social enterprises. Examples of this work included the business transformation of three Camphill Communities whilst maintaining their philosophical base. Through this work, Jim has developed a keen focus on balancing the commercial aspects of social enterprise work with well-defined philosophical bases.

Jim has worked in developing profit-based enterprises such as SKS Scotland CIC and Freedom Bakery CIC: in the case of Freedom, delivering a £150k profitability pa whilst also delivering significant social impacts. In the work of the Camphill communities, Jim’s work turned loss making charities into commercially sustainable social enterprises, increasing profitability, staffing, and delivering bigger social impacts.


Jim is a qualified community worker, having been employed in and led, community-based organisations in Leith, Bathgate, Grangemouth, central Fife, and Bannockburn for fourteen years. Additionally, he has worked as a Community Development Officer for a local authority, and as a consultant, covering Scotland (mainly rural and highlands/islands), for an additional thirteen years.

The consultancies conducted were mostly with community organisations involving strategic, business, and operational planning, with a view towards commercialising assets, as well as finance and funding, in addition to product and service development. It is through this work that he has developed an ingrained importance of the role of community in balancing social impacts with commercial activities. Jim’s community sector experience is wide-ranging, from the development of community owned pre-fives and nursery services (including being currently involved with Forest Nursery School development), to youth work services such as non-alcoholic bars, creativity projects involving drama and arts development, as well as a particular experience in community heritage work. Jim’s community heritage work has included oral history projects in Leith and helping communities develop curation of their own history. Leading Bannockburn House Trust, and working on projects with Timespan Museum, Gardner Memorial Church and Kilmartin Museum, the Heritage Trust Network and the School for Social Entrepreneurs Heritage Trade-up programme. Jim talks through his experience of community asset ownership in this article where he outlined his first community asset purchases in the mid-1990s with Brag Enterprises Ltd in Fife, followed by leading the first community to take court action against the Government using the Right to Buy legislation. He has since advised and led on buy outs using Asset Transfer legislation, as well as privately negotiated buyouts. He also led the business planning/finance/funding team on the Bannockburn House Trust buyout of a 30-acre historic urban estate and advised on other successful buyouts and asset transfers.


The bread and butter of Jim’s last 30 years’ professional work has been in strategy development, business planning, finance, and funding, including negotiating social investment deals and developing UK Treasury Green Book Business Cases. He has completed work with dozens of 3rd sector organisations on strategy and business planning through which he has regularly raised £1m+ packages of support, for both capital and revenue development.

Jim is familiar with almost every 3rd sector relevant fund in Scotland over the past thirty years, having managed a large and varied portfolio in each of my roles. His social investment experience includes as a social enterprise investee, investor, and investment advisor:
  • Social Investment Investee: Jim was heavily involved in co-developing Scotland’s only successful DIY Social Investment Tax Return Jim also co-developed the business plan and co-negotiated the blended social investment package of c.£300k.
  • Social Investment Investee: As a senior employee of care social enterprise, Camphill Blair Drummond , Jim negotiated a £1m blended social investment package from Social investment Scotland as part of an overall £10m capital project. Jim repeated this with other Camphill communities, raising an additional £1.5m in blended social investment.
  • Social Investor: For many years, Jim volunteered as a specialist advisor with Social Investment Scotland and Board member of Resilient Scotland. SIS and Resilient offer blended social investments to 3rd sector organisations, promoting social impact through trading.
  • Social Investor: Jim was one of two senior staff appointed prior to the UnLtd consortium being awarded its £100m endowment. He contributed extensively to the preparation of the negotiating documents, co-wrote much of the operating processes, and then led the UnLtd roll-out in Scotland. Jim negotiated the Scottish Government’s position on support for social entrepreneurship, establishing its investment fund, which remains substantially unchanged to present.
  • Social investment Advisor: As an operator in the social enterprise landscape, part of the suite of products Jim offers is readiness preparation for social investment. This includes organisational preparedness advice and implementation.


Jim Bennett has significant experience in both writing and helping organisations deliver a large variety of strategy and planning activities. These have included coordinating the development of master and conservation plans for two historic, listed estates. His role included strategic and operational planning, financial and funding forecasting, and structuring, as well as defining and overseeing all staffing, contracting, and resourcing needs for capital and revenue development. The plans were primarily a capital ones, Master Planning the estate, defining capital requirements, briefing and engaging architects and construction professionals.

Jim’s business planning experience (and market analysis) has involved working with Development Trusts in Gorebridge, Rosewell, Anstruther, Killin, Colintraive, Embo, Islay Energy Trust, Islay & Jura CVS, Isle of Gigha Trust, Development Coll and Isle of Luing Trust amongst many others.


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