Last October Aileen Campbell, Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government in the Scottish Government led a delegation to the Social Enterprise World Forum in Addis Ababa. Amongst the delegates was Hazel Smith, CEO of ReTweed, International Tartans’ main supplier of tartan accessories.

International Tartans supplied ReTweed with a length of Ethiopia tartan which they made into ties, scarves and plaid brooches to take as gifts. Their Ethiopian hosts were astonished and delighted to be given something that carried the colours of their national flag.

Neil Munro, an environmental scientist now based in Addis Ababa formerly worked in Sudan. When in Khartoum he helped form the Khartoum Caledonian Society which adopted the Sudan tartan. Although kilts were made in Scotland the Caledonian Society used local craftworkers to make a range of accessories with a view to establishing a job-creating social enterprise. Upon hearing of the Ethiopia tartan, Neil immediately ordered Ethiopia tartan products for his fellow Scots and is currently trying to establish a Caledonian Society in Addis Ababa. Such is the universal versatility of Scotland’s ‘international calling-card’ it can be used as a unifying force for good and for promoting Scotland almost anywhere in the world.

Although these are tiny steps on a long road towards the level of international co-operation that will be needed if we are to ensure our planet is fit for generations to come, it is a start and a welcome one.