20-year-old Paisley entrepreneur becomes youngest recipient of social enterprise fund

July 20, 2018

Paisley-based Jordan McPhail has become the youngest individual to receive a Build It award from social enterprise agency, Firstport. The grant was awarded from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund.

Build It awards support social entrepreneurs, who have proven their business concept and social impact, to commit to their business full time by covering living costs for a year. Jordan McPhail received £22,000 to help grow his social enterprise, Aspire Community Solutions.

Jordan’s business provides construction, landscaping and groundwork’s as well as cleaning services in the area, whilst training up those with barriers to employment and enhancing community spaces. In the last year, Aspire Community Solutions has supported around 30 individuals from a variety of backgrounds, including long term unemployed, ex-offenders and young persons, achieving great success rates – 90% moving into employment, with a further 7% progressing into education or training.

Jordan McPhail, Founder of Aspire Community Solutions, said: “The funding will allow me to go full time into Aspire – currently I juggle this, plus two part-time jobs. At the moment we provide our services mainly to domestic customers, local authorities and housing associations but there’s an opportunity to expand and deliver more in the private sector. Now I can focus on the business full time, we’re hoping to double our income and double our social impact over the next two years and hope to continue this on into the future after the grant period.”

Jordan started setting up Aspire while he was sitting his Standard Grade exams. He first received Firstport funding at the age of 18 and over the past two years he has also secured a loan that allowed him to purchase a van and have working capital for the business.

Jordan continued: “I grew up in Ferguslie Park, an area of high deprivation and a lack of opportunities. To have a teacher in secondary school tell me that I wouldn’t even be a cleaner in Asda just added to my fire – not only to prove them wrong, but also help other young people and those with barriers to employment. I established Aspire as in my eyes the only way to do business is through a social enterprise. Being a social entrepreneur is a way of life and I certainly wouldn’t change that as the impact you have on others is life changing.”

Josiah Lockhart, Chief Executive of Firstport said: “Jordan’s enthusiasm and drive for his enterprise is key to its success. Not only is he driving his business forward, delivering competitive services, but he’s focused on maximising his social impact. Young people are increasingly seeing business as a way to deliver social impact and Jordan is a fantastic example of this.

“As Scotland continues to celebrate the Year of Young People, at Firstport we have two great opportunities to support the next generation of social entrepreneurs to try out good ideas.”

  • The Social Innovation Competition is looking for innovative ideas and solutions to social issues or challenges affecting young people aged between 8 and 26. There are three awards of £5000 on offer, including the Young Social Innovator award for applicants under 30.
  • Pounds for Purpose offers grants of £500 as well as guidance and support to young people aged 16-26 to try out ideas that have a positive impact on people and the environment.

Jordan was one of six individuals from across Scotland to share a total of £147,000 grant funding as part of this latest round of Build It awards. The other five successful social entrepreneurs are:

  • Celia Hodson, Hey Girls, Dunbar
  • Sean Kerr, Sustainable Thinking Scotland CIC, Falkirk
  • Lou Prendergast, Namaste 'Aff It', Glasgow
  • Jain McIntyre, Lodestone Creative, Bowling
  • Rab Jeffrey, Community Bus, Bo’ness


For further information contact Jess Gray, Communications Officer (0131 558 2724 jess@firstport.org.uk)

What is social enterprise?
Social enterprise is about running a business, making a profit, and using that money to create a positive social impact. It is a way of doing business which focuses on tackling social problems, strengthening communities, improving people’s life chances or protecting the environment, as opposed to generating profit for private individuals or bodies. Any surplus income, after covering running costs and salaries, is reinvested in the business and goes towards its social aims.

Established in 2007, Firstport is Scotland’s development agency for start-up social enterprise. We offer a full package of free business support and resources that includes start-up funds, business advice, practical tools and connections. Firstport delivers an awards programme, which distributes money from the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund.

Social Entrepreneurs Fund
Since 2009, the Social Entrepreneurs Fund has made 596 awards and distributed £4.6 million across Scotland.
Start It awards are focused on piloting entirely new ideas that are yet to get off the ground. Budding entrepreneurs can apply for up to £5000 to cover essential start-up costs.
Build It awards are for more developed enterprises, still at an early stage but able to show evidence of a track record in generating income and social impact. Individuals can apply for up to £20,000 towards one person’s salary/living costs for a year. An additional £5000 is available in cases where more than one role is being created, or to help cover equipment or other costs associated with a new employed post.