Leaders can access a mix and match package of support that best suits them and their business needs. Support could include: business skills advice; human resource advice; financial planning; digitisation and moving services online; business planning in changing times; and peer to peer mentoring alongside wellbeing and coaching sessions. Each successful organisation will be assigned a Link Worker to help them identify and access the support they need and help resolve any issues along the way.
Powering Up is open to all community businesses in England; however, priority will be given to community businesses in England’s most deprived areas as well as to organisations supporting and led by disabled people and/or people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME)* groups.
Led by Power to Change, Powering Up is a partnership with its national delivery partners: Locality, School for Social Entrepreneurs, Plunkett Foundation, The Ubele Initiative, Coops UK and Eastside Primetimers. Successful applicants may use a local service provider, if they already have a successful working relationship and meet the programme criteria.
Vidhya Alakeson, CEO at Power to Change, said: “The community business sector has a wealth of talent and experience; however, if they are to survive this constantly shifting social and economic landscape they must ensure they have the right skills and knowledge to remain agile. By delivering tailored support where it is needed most, Powering Up is giving community business leaders the tools they need to build business resilience now, so they are in the best possible shape to tackle the challenges ahead.”
Powering Up 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 constantly shifting landscape.
Along with the Powering Up, the scheme includes: the Community Business Renewal Fund providing £3million of unrestricted grants; Community Business ReBoost providing matched-funding grants aimed at boosting community shares income; Community Business Crowdmatch, to support community businesses with different types of fundraising; tailored support to help community businesses protect community assets; and a programme of work highlighting the role community business can play in the economic recovery.
Building on an emergency response
In April 2020, Power to Change 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.