Power to Change, the independent trust that supports community businesses in England has unveiled the Community Business Renewal Fund. A £3million unrestricted grants programme, it is providing established community businesses in England the opportunity to assess, diversify and strengthen their operations to ensure they can navigate the constantly changing coronavirus landscape.
Opening 3rd November 2020, the Community Businesses Renewal Fund is being delivered by Social Investment Business (SIB) on behalf of Power to Change and is providing grants between £10,000 and £20,000.
Applications are open to all community businesses that were financially viable before the pandemic, but priority will be given to community businesses supporting people who are at higher risk from Covid-19; operating in areas of high deprivation; organisations supporting and led by disabled people and Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)-led or BAME-supporting businesses.
How can I apply?
The money is unrestricted and can be used to:
- Meet the cost of staff at risk due to loss of trading income or end of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (furlough);
- Provide community business leaders with time to strengthen capacity, re-plan businesses, diversify income, pursue digital transformation and increase volunteers;
- Meet capital costs of adapting operations;
- Increase diversity in the sector (among staff, volunteers, service users and leaders);
- Develop the future leaders of the community business sector;
- Support partnership working to influence local economic development strategic planning; and
- Enable community businesses providing jobs and training to prepare for rising unemployment.
The Community Business Renewal Fund will have three application rounds. Each round will have a short application window of just three hours as demand is expected to be high. Application guidance is available on the Power to Change website and applications need to be submitted during the following windows:
- Round One: 3 November 2020; 10am – 1pm
- Round Two: 12 January 2021; 10am – 1pm
- Round Three: 2 March 2021; 10am – 1pm
On Tuesday 20 October, Power to Change is hosting a webinar where potential applicants can find out more about the fund, understand the application criteria and be guided through the application process. Book a place.
Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change, said: “For many community businesses, lockdown was all about immediate survival. This next phase of this pandemic is more nuanced and fluid and building resilience will be key for community businesses to successfully navigate their way through the challenges ahead. For some, this will mean moderate tweaks to their businesses, whereas for others it will require a complete overhaul of their model. That is why the Community Business Renewal Fund will provide unrestricted grants, so that community business leaders can use the money where it is needed most – after all, they are the experts in their field.”
Nick Temple, CEO of Social Investment Business, said: “If we want to build stronger, more resilient organisations that help create fairer local economies, then community businesses must play a substantial and significant role in the recovery. The unrestricted grants available through the Community Business Renewal Fund will provide community businesses with the flexibility to decide where to spend funds to strengthen their vital work.”
The new fund is part of a wider £5million package of support to enable community businesses affected by the Covid-19 crisis to adapt, renew and rebuild their businesses so they can remain financially viable and best serve their local communities during the pandemic’s ‘new normal’
Along with the Community Business Renewal Fund, the scheme will also include: Capacity strengthening support to help community businesses increase knowledge, resilience and equip themselves to ‘re-boot’ successfully; two match-funding programmes to support community businesses with different types of fundraising; tailored support to help community businesses protect community assets; and aprogramme of work highlighting the role community business can play in the economic recovery
Building on an emergency response
In April 2020, the trust announced rapid emergency funding to support community businesses during lockdown. The money was available to community businesses that were previous Power to Change grantees along with members of Power to Change’s strategic partners – Co-operatives UK, Locality, SIB and the Plunkett Foundation – all of whom played a key role in designing this response. There was very high demand and Power to Change awarded more than 356 grants totalling £6.75million to community businesses in England.
It enabled many community businesses to carry on trading and diversify during lockdown, providing essential support in their communities – in some cases stepping-in to support local authorities to deliver services, particularly health and social care.
The money enabled community businesses to deal with immediate cash flow issues as a result of paused operations. 54 per cent of grantees used a portion of the money to pay staff salaries, whilst 18 per cent used some of the money to adapt assets so they could reopen and carry on trading.