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Social value agency hires prominent operations director as it drives expansion plans



Specialist social value agency Samtaler, has appointed former Social Enterprise Scotland vice chair Zahra Hedges as its new director of operations.

The Scottish-based boutique agency has been experiencing a period of rapid growth in 2020 and has a solid roster of clients including leading European energy company Vattenfall, as well as several local councils.

The agency is also working closely with Social Value UK, on its latest project Contracts For Change, which aims to feed into national policy and improve how social value is embedded in organisations across the UK.

As social value continues to rise up the agenda in both the public and private sector, Hedges will be responsible for all aspects of Samtaler’s future growth and strategic direction.

She brings with her blend of commercial, third sector and public sector experience.

With an entrepreneurial background, having founded and sold a successful retail and wholesale business, Hedges moves to Samtaler from social enterprise support agency CEIS.

At CEIS she led the marketing strategy for Just Enterprise – the national support for the third sector – and managed Our Place, the asset-based community development project in North West Dumfries.

She has also spent the last three years as vice chair and board member for Social Enterprise Scotland where she was involved in reviewing the intermediary support provided to social enterprises.

She also worked with Glasgow City Council to quickly adapt and transform the support given to social enterprises during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Hedges will also continue to work with the Scottish Government on projects across all 32 local authority areas.

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Speaking of her appointment, Zahra Hedges said: “I have long been a fan of Samtaler and the work they do, so to be able to join the business at this pivotal time is a real honour.

“The growth over the past two years has been remarkable and shows a real desire amongst both public sector procurers and some of our large businesses to really understand and embed community benefit and social value in what they do in a meaningful, sustainable and cost-effective way.

“This is an area I am really passionate about and I’m looking forward to helping Samtaler lead the way in what I believe will be a seismic shift in how social value is delivered across the UK.”

Samtaler director Sarah Stone said: “Zahra’s extensive experience across the private, public and third sector makes her a real asset to our team.

“She has a natural ability when it comes to understanding the different needs and priorities of clients, stakeholders and their communities and how they can align their core purpose and values to deliver social value. This is exactly what Samtaler is all about.

“While our vision is to remain a small, boutique agency, we will be using Zahra’s fresh perspective and expertise to grow our client base.”



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