Community business leaders in England have until 2 December to apply for an entrepreneurial learning programme and a grant of up to £10,000 to help pandemic proof their businesses.
Applications open today for the fifth and final year of Community Business Trade Up, which has supported nearly 300 community businesses since 2017. The programme helps community businesses in their early stages to grow their impact and resilience, aiming to help them to diversify and increase income from trading, be less grant dependent and become sustainable.
According to the programme, community businesses on the programme typically increase their income from trading by 64%, or over £22,000, year on year. In total, 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. In total £0.5m is available in Trade Back grants.
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.
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, added:
“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.”
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