Kirsty Thomson, Founder and CEO of local social enterprise, The Circle Dundee has recently been enrolled in the Scale-Up Scotland programme. Scale-Up Scotland is a leadership programme that is delivered through an 18-month cohort-based programme. This is aimed at ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses with the potential and desire to substantially grow their businesses.
Kirsty runs a social enterprise with a More Than Profit model for business which aims to create a financially sustainable business that has a social impact. Having recently merged The Circle with her consultancy business ACK, Kirsty’s business endeavours have evidenced potential for large-scale growth. Ordinarily Scale-Up Scotland offer this programme to much larger businesses, however in this instance they recognised the ambition behind Kirsty and The Circle in aspiring to achieve a similar level of growth very quickly.
The Circle have recently been featured in a Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce (DACC) magazine article on growth, highlighting the news that they have welcomed several new staff members, growing their team to twelve. The Circle has also recently become an accredited Living Wage employer and are part of the Living Wage Foundation and Dundee City Council’s campaign to make Dundee a Living Wage city. Several new initiatives have really put the social enterprise on the map including The Circle Academy and The Circle Café which both launched this summer.
The Circle Academy is a 12-week intensive, practical and educational training programme for individuals interested in running More Than Profit businesses.
The Circle Café is an employability and training programme for looked after young people and care leavers. We intend to support and nurture our candidates through the programme to be fully ready to enter the workforce with practical skills and hands on experience.
Although Scale-up Scotland’s 18-month programme is based on building leadership capability for scale, there is a comprehensive focus on key drivers of scaling a business successfully. Candidates are offered the opportunity to join focused international learning journeys in which they are able to visit some of the world’s leading entrepreneurs and their businesses.
This programme is results-oriented, delivered and supported by leading entrepreneurs, expert business practitioners and facilitators. Participants are expected to show continued development of themselves as individuals and their organisations as a whole. This demonstrates that in order to run a successful business and to sustain and grow it, entrepreneurs must be willing to continue to develop themselves as well as their organisations.
The programme is funded by The Hunter Foundation, Entrepreneurial Scotland and Scotland CAN DO. Some of these organisations have worked in partnership with or have funded The Circle Dundee or supported Kirsty in her entrepreneurial journey over the years.
Kirsty recently attended Entrepreneurial Scotland’s Annual Summit and Can Do Fest on Global Mindset where she heard from some of the world’s global visionaries such as Mike Soutar, David Rose and Sonia Lo. The Entrepreneurial Scotland Conference provides an environment unlike anything else for those hungry to learn and connect.
Entrepreneurial Scotland also run the Saltire Fellowship programme which Kirsty attended in 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts and Silicon Valley. The Saltire Fellowship is a world-class leadership development programme for high potential leaders to drive growth and change for Scotland.
Scotland Can B which is run by Scotland Can Do hosted an event at The Circle last September inviting businesses to find out how they could learn and benefit from measuring their impact in a hands-on workshop. They explained that investors, employees, customer trust and stronger business performance were the global drivers for measuring impact in your business. The session was open to businesses of all sizes at all levels. Scotland Can B will also be providing speakers for The Circle Academy when it officially launches in August this year.
“Education and learning are an important part of everything we do here at The Circle. Therefore, being part of this 18-month training programme will allow me the opportunity to work on scaling the business while being part of a cohort of individuals from different industries who will have many experiences to share.”