Dunfermline company EnableNet is UK’s first social enterprise internet provider
AN ENTREPRENEUR has launched the UK’s first social enterprise internet service provider in Dunfermline in a bid to bridge the digital divide.
EnableNet – set up by Rob Flannigan – donate a 12-month package to individuals and communities who otherwise couldn’t afford the service for every 10 customers that have signed up to the internet provider.
A charity already benefitting from the enterprise is Fife Women’s Aid – with vulnerable women in refuge being set up with internet free of charge.
Rob, 35, who has a background in business and marketing, was inspired to set up the not-for-profit organisation as a result of the coronavirus pandemic which has led to many people having no or minimal access to the internet.
He believes that internet access should be seen as a “utility” not a “luxury”.
“I had another company called ‘Enable Games’ that was started before the pandemic which was to help people with disabilities get into Esports competitions,” Rob told the Press.
“It went down the drain in Edinburgh because working with vulnerable people was impossible.
“As I folded up the business, I started to think what I could do next. Everybody needs the internet but there is a digital divide.
“With the Scottish Government pushing for digital inclusion and knowing that there would be people struggling to staying connected during the pandemic, I decided to launch EnableNet.
“We set up an internet service provider last year and started accepting customers two months ago.”
As well as services for residents, EnableNet will also provide business broadband, leased line broadband and VoIP phone services for businesses.
It offers competitive internet speeds, shorter six-month minimum term contracts and, says Mr Flannigan, is Scotland’s first SoGEA (Single Order Generic Ethernet Access) provider. SoGEA allows for fast, secure and stable internet packages without the need of a landline.
Rob continued: “Internet access is not a luxury, it’s a utility – people need it to access benefits, to look for jobs, to study, work, and stay connected.
“COVID has shown that people need the internet more than ever but there are many households across the UK who struggle to afford it.
“This inequality was exacerbated when lockdown began and internet usage for many became a lifeline in staying connected to family, friends and work.
“We offer everything that the big boys do but we’re giving back to the community instead of lining the pockets of our board members.”
Rob’s partner also works for the company and they’re now in a position to recruit a sales development rep through Kickstart, a Government scheme to get young people into work.
“It’s great that we can support people who are going through hardship from the profits made from our customers,” Rob added.
“I grew up with nothing in a really poor family in Ayrshire and now I’m in a position to make a difference I want to create opportunities for others.
“The aim is to bring an end to the digital divide one connection at a time.”
For more information, visit: https://www.enablenet.co.uk/