#SOCIALSATURDAY took place at the weekend, designed to raise awareness of the number and range of social enterprises springing up.

But like other notable days – Mother’s Day, International Coffee Day, World Octopus Day or Talk Like A Pirate day – it’s what happens on the other 364 days of the year that matters.

Scotland is already a world-leading nation in nurturing social enterprise, recognising social enterprise as a fairer and more inclusive way of doing business.

The impact of Scotland’s social enterprises is significant: the first ever Social Enterprise Census (2015) revealed there are more than 5,000 social enterprises employing more than 112,400 people, with £1.15 billion in combined traded income. Together, they add £1.7bn to the Scottish economy.

Susan Aktemel founded Impact Arts almost 25 years ago, a social enterprise before social enterprises were a thing, the organisation she started as a sole trader became a national charity. But for Susan (pictured), it simply made sense to run her organisation on a commercial footing, to put the profits back into the company and into activities aimed at making a difference.

Her philosophy? If your business can make you a living and make a difference to people, why would you do it any other way?

Twenty odd years later, she exited Impact Arts and embarked on her second social enterprise, Homes for Good (HfG), a social enterprise focused on the housing sector. HfG has 280 properties, half of them belong to HfG and half are managed on behalf of other landlords.

HfG also has a joint venture, which buys and develops properties with investors from London – it’s a company limited by share. Susan wanted to demonstrate that a social enterprise is not simply about the structure of the organisation any more, it’s possible to have a legal structure that allows a very commercially focused private business to be easily aligned with a social model.

In just three years, Aktemel has raised investment of £6m, with £2m more to come in the next 12 months. Beyond that, the goal is to raise a further £16m and own 400+ homes in the following three to four years.

“When I started out, the concept of being commercially viable and profitable within the social space was viewed with suspicion,” she explained. “Money came from the public sector and grants, and it wasn’t the norm to focus on generating profits.

“But now I’m sitting round a boardroom table with men in suits talking about millions of pounds of investment, asking where can we do something good with that?”

She believes social investment is beginning to move away from reliance on public grants towards borrowing money to grow and expand – there’s a ton of money available to be ploughed into the sector but not many social enterprises with a model that’s investable.

“There is a convergence of mainstream business and social enterprises,” said Aktemel. “Companies are looking to do good with profits. The more it happens, the more it will happen.”