M&S launches Community Business Challenge in Bristol

Bristol community businesses invited to apply for a package of support including skills training and funding up to £10,000 each

M&S and Power to Change are taking the Community Business Challenge to Bristol. The programme  offers local businesses the chance to apply for free skills training and up to £10,000 of grant funding, and has already supported 12 community businesses in Liverpool and Plymouth.

Successful applicants of the M&S Community Business Challenge will win specialist business development support from M&S – covering everything from visual merchandising to supply chain management to finance – together with a grant from Power to Change to help nurture and grow their community businesses.

Those that apply must meet Power to Change’s definition of a community business, have a primary area of impact within Bristol, and be an incorporated organisation that has ideally been trading for at least 12 months.

As part of the application process, businesses are also asked to encourage support from local people and demonstrate how they are making a difference to the community.

Bristol businesses can register their interest via the Community Business Challenge website here. Applications open on Thursday, July 11 and close on Sunday August 11 2019.

Shortlisted businesses will be invited to participate in a showcase event this autumn where they will pitch to a panel of judges to determine the level of support and funding they will receive.

Allison Jenkins, M&S Head of Region for the South West, said: “This is a great opportunity for community businesses across Bristol and I’m excited the programme is being brought to the area. I urge businesses to get involved and demonstrate the positive difference they are making to communities in the city.”

Mark Gordon, Director of Communications and Partnerships at Power to Change, added: “We believe that community businesses have the power to transform lives, and in Bristol the movement is already happening. From cafes, farms and leisure centres to a community-run ferry boat service, the city is full of inspirational community businesses, powered by inspirational people with true entrepreneurial spirit. We are delighted to bring our partnership with M&S to Bristol and can’t wait to see what its people have in store.”

The School for Social Entrepreneurs are working with Power to Change and M&S to support delivery of the programme. Michelle Virgo, Business Manager at SSE Dartington said: “There is so much positive change happening in Bristol right now. We are delighted to support this initiative in unearthing community businesses and empowering the people behind them to access support and funding to develop a more sustainable future.”

SSE will be holding information sessions for anyone interested in applying for the fund. To register, click on the links below:

They will also be holding a webinar about the programme on Thursday, August 1 from 12pm to 1pm. Follow this link to register.

Bristol is the third city to host the M&S Community Business Challenge following editions in Plymouth earlier this year and in Liverpool in 2018.

For more information about the programme, visit www.communitybusinesschallenge.co.uk

ENDS

For more information please contact Jonathan Bacon (jonathan.bacon@bjl.co.uk, 07894 613176) or Laura Hunt (Laura.hunt@bjl.co.uk, 0161 831 7141)

About Power to ChangePower to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England. Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trade for community benefit and make life better for local people. The sector is worth £1.05 billion, and comprises 7,800 community businesses across England who employ 33,600 people (Source: Community Business Market 2018).

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives. Power to Change received its endowment from the National Lottery Community Fund in 2015.

About The National Lottery Community Fund: We are the largest community funder in the UK – we’re proud to award money raised by National Lottery players to communities across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Since June 2004, we have made over 200,000 grants and awarded over £9 billion to projects that have benefited millions of people.

We are passionate about funding great ideas that matter to communities and make a difference to people’s lives. At the heart of everything we do is the belief that when people are in the lead, communities thrive. Thanks to the support of National Lottery players, our funding is open to everyone. We’re privileged to be able to work with the smallest of local groups right up to UK-wide charities, enabling people and communities to bring their ambitions to life.

About Plan A: Plan A is Marks & Spencer’s ambitious, customer focused sustainability plan that aims to support 1,000 communities, help 10 million people live happier, healthier lives and convert M&S into a zero-waste business. The three-pillar plan is designed to tackle the big issues facing retailers, consumer businesses and society and spans wellbeing, transforming communities and caring for the planet. Find out more here – http://corporate.marksandspencer.com/plan-a

In 2017, M&S announced its new community commitments as part of Plan A 2025, which included supporting colleagues to deliver one million hours of volunteering time by 2025.