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A young entrepreneur from Canada is spending nine weeks in the Highlands and Islands as part of wider efforts to involve more young people in community and social enterprises.
Rebecca Dunphy, 25, from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, is carrying out an internship with Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).
She will be researching the agency’s work with young people and exploring the potential for social and community enterprises to engage more young people in future.
Rebecca is a development manager at Halifax-based Common Good Solutions (CGS), an organisation that supports community and social enterprises to start up and grow.
She is also the co-founder of Rampage, a new social enterprise aiming to manufacture portable accessibility ramps using end-of-life tyres and other waste rubber. As well helping people with disabilities, this will create rural jobs in Cape Breton and reduce landfill waste.
Rebecca said: ‘I am delighted to be working in Scotland. The Highlands and Islands and Nova Scotia have many features in common, including a strong social economy that benefits many rural communities.
‘Increasing the involvement of young people in this not only helps attract and retain fresh talent, it also secures the long-term future of social and community enterprises through succession planning.
‘Exploring the potential for this in the Highlands and Islands is a great project to be involved with and I really look forward to getting started.’
The internship proposal came from contact between HIE and CGS around areas of mutual interest, after Anne Macdonald, head of HIE’s social enterprise development team, visited eastern Canada as part of the Churchill Fellowship programme.
Anne said: ‘My approach to this fellowship was to learn from collective experiences of a wide range of organisations and individuals in Canada involved in the social enterprise sector, including CGS which has delivered many innovative projects.
‘As a result, we are focusing on creating the environment for young people and innovation to thrive in the region. We are taking forward a range of proposals to put more emphasis on attracting young people to be involved in all aspects of social business development and delivery.
‘We agreed to support an internship exchange as part of this and we are delighted to have Rebecca with us for the next few weeks.’
Rebecca will be based in Inverness and will travel throughout the Highlands and Islands to meet social enterprises during her nine-week internship.