£6.5million community business programme opens final round of support

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From today, community business leaders in England can apply for an entrepreneurial learning programme and a grant of up to £10,000 to help pandemic-proof their businesses.
  • Applications open for the Community Business Trade Up Programme to help rebuild communities
  • £0.5million worth of new Trade Back grants available
  • Community businesses on program report a 64% typical increase in income from trading

From today, 9000+ community business leaders in England can apply for an entrepreneurial learning programme and a grant of up to £10,000 to help pandemic proof their businesses.

In its fifth and final year, Community Business Trade Up has been transformative for nearly 300 community businesses since 2017.  The programme supports community businesses in their early stages to grow their impact and resilience.  It aims to help them to diversify and increase income from trading, be less grant dependent and become sustainable.

Typically, community businesses on the programme increase their income from trading by 64%, or over £22,000, year on year.  In total, programme participants have generated an additional £13million of income from trading, employed 500 people, supported 1,400 volunteers and reached 400,000 beneficiaries.

Community Business Trade Up participants get a fully-funded nine-month learning programme (12 learning days), a Trade Back grant up to £10,000, and the support of a peer network of other community business leaders.

The Community Business Trade Up Programme is run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), in partnership with Power to Change. Applications close on Wednesday, 2nd December 2020.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, Power to Change and SSE have adapted the programme in three ways:

  • Applications from those hit hardest by Covid-19 will be prioritised. In particular, community businesses that are led by black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME), support BAME communities and/or located in and giving support to very deprived or disadvantaged local communities.  This year, Ubele Initiative will be working with Power to Change and SSE to ensure funding reaches the widest range of people and communities.
  • Programme participants each receive a Trade Back grant up to £10,000. Created by the SSE in response to the pandemic, Trade Back is a new type of grant that incentivises social organisations to trade, while supporting them to recover and rebuild.  Trade Back grants match ‘pound-for-pound’ any increase in income from trading above Covid period levels.
  • Programme content will be co-designed with community business leaders to ensure it is relevant to the needs of community businesses through and beyond the new pandemic economy, with a focus on digitisation.

Community businesses work in all sorts of sectors and come in a multitude of different business forms.  From cafes, swimming pools, pubs, breweries, bakeries, hubs, launderettes and even woodlands.   Examples of community businesses supported by this programme include One Voice Blackburn, Shareshed, Monkey Park CIC, Bristol Bike Project, the Bevy community pub, London Bike Kitchen and Terverbyn Community Hall.

Zaffer Khan, CEO of One Voice Blackburn took part in the 2020 programme.  He says:

“The real-life examples of individuals who’ve improved their trading activity and impact makes it a really practical, tangible learning experience.

“It’s not about being given the answers, it’s about having the space and time to reflect and bounce ideas off others going through a similar situation”

The learning programme will help leaders of community businesses to develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to increase their impact, with a focus on increasing their sales and income from trading. It will run from April to December 2021, with 50 places for community business leaders across England who will learn in groups of 10.

The programme is delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs online and in-person – at five locations, subject to government social distancing guidelines.

Alastair Wilson, CEO of School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: “Community businesses strengthen local economies and enrich the fabric of society. But running them can be challenging, especially during the pandemic. While many saw their income drop off a cliff, others have seen a surge in demand for their services. Their future is still uncertain.

“We’re thrilled that community businesses also get the added support of our new Trade Back grants.  We’re also excited to be working alongside Ubele Initiative as part of SSE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how agile community businesses can be, many adapting quickly to meet the needs of their local community. But the social and economic outlook remains challenging and in order to survive in a constantly shifting ‘new normal’, community businesses will need to build resilience. The Community Business Trade Up programme will give them the tools and support they need.”

Community businesses from across England can find out more and apply now until 2 December 2020, at: www.the-sse.org/courses/community-business