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£3m unrestricted fund announced for community businesses

£3m unrestricted fund announced for community businesses

Power to Change has unveiled a £3 million unrestricted grants programme for community businesses.

The Community Business Renewal Fund has been created to give established community businesses in England the opportunity to assess, diversify and strengthen their operations to help them navigate the constantly changing coronavirus landscape.

With grants of between £10,000 and £20,000 available, the Fund opens on 3 November and is being delivered by Social Investment Business (SIB) on behalf of Power to Change.

All community businesses that were financially viable before the pandemic can apply, with priority given to community businesses supporting people at higher risk from Covid-19, operating in areas of high deprivation, or working closely with Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities.

Examples of how the unrestricted funds can be used include:

  • Meeting the cost of staff at risk due to loss of trading income or end of Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • Providing community business leaders with time to strengthen capacity, re-plan businesses, diversify income, pursue digital transformation and increase volunteers
  • Meeting capital costs of adapting operations
  • Enabling community businesses providing jobs and training to prepare for rising unemployment

There will be three application rounds, with each round having a short application window of three hours. 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

Power to Change is hosting a webinar in advance of these application rounds, on Tuesday 20 October, where potential applicants can find out more about the fund, understand the application criteria and be guided through the application process.

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 a programme of work highlighting the role community business can play in the economic recovery.

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via www.thepurplepim.com.

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