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Fund reopens to deliver £16.3 million in grant funding to social enterprises

The Social Enterprise Support Fund will provide grants between £10,000 and £100,000 to support social enterprises in England impacted by COVID-19

Today (10 November, 2021) five social enterprise support agencies have come together for the second time to deliver the fund, which will help social enterprises across England rebuild and grow their income from trading, enabling them to support their communities to recover from the crisis.

Big Issue Invest, Key Fund, Resonance, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and UnLtd will jointly deliver £16.3m in grants, aiming to help 500 enterprises. Money for the fund comes from The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.

The fund previously launched in 2020 and delivered £18.7m of grants to over 600 social across the length and breadth of England.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund will reopen for applications at 1pm on November 25th and is focused on social enterprises supporting people facing increased social and economic challenges as a result of COVID-19.

The fund is available to social enterprises if most of their beneficiaries are in England, with an annual income between £20,000 and £1.8m in either of the last two financial years.

The COVID-19 crisis continues to disproportionately hurt communities who already experience social and economic inequalities. The fund will support social entrepreneurs who help these communities, including leaders with lived experience, and ensure they can put their solutions into practice to help people most impacted by the crisis.

The UK’s 100,000 social enterprises will be at the heart of community recovery from this crisis. Social enterprises create economic growth while helping people in need or improving the environment.

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Social enterprises employ two million people. They create jobs for the most vulnerable people. Almost half (42%)[1] of UK social enterprises seek to employ people who are typically disadvantaged in the labour market – such as disabled people, care leavers, ex-offenders, homeless people, and veterans.

The economic and social impact of Covid-19 has laid bare structural inequalities in our society. People from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, disabled people, people with lower educational outcomes, those on lower incomes, and the young have been hit the hardest by the crisis. Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities have also been more affected by business shutdowns and suffered a drop in earnings nearly three times larger than their white counterparts.

Women took on two-thirds of the additional burden of extra childcare during the first lockdown and were more likely to be furloughed. The number of reported domestic abuse cases has increased significantly since the first lockdown.

The fund is committed to inclusion, working to ensure that the at least 50% of grants reach groups that are led by: people from Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities; LGBTQ+ communities; disabled people; and/or leaders with lived experience of the issues their social enterprise is addressing.

Welcoming the reopening of the fund Mark Norbury, Chief Executive, UnLtd said: “Last year social entrepreneurs across the UK sprang into action to help their communities at a time when needs felt overwhelming. We are delighted that we can provide crucial support again at a time when communities are really squeezed and when social enterprises urgently need funding to enable them to support these communities through the next six months, while also rebuilding, adapting and significantly contributing to how the UK moves forward in 2022.


“We know that the pandemic has had deeply unequal effects, exacerbating existing barriers and marginalisation in society. The right funding must be given to those addressing these harms. Over 50% of grants will go to Black, Asian, minority ethnic and or disabled entrepreneurs. If this sounds like you, we want to hear from you, and we’re here to help, however we can. Social entrepreneurs transform our world for good, and we hope this fund offers them the critical finance they need to make that vision possible.”

Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund, said: “The pandemic has shone a light on the impact of poverty and inequity.  Social enterprises have been on the frontline throughout the last year and a half, fighting to address these issues, providing essential services to the most vulnerable members of society, often whilst their own financial situation has been incredibly precarious.  We know that the pandemic continues to impact on many social enterprises and their business models, and so we are delighted to be working with our Partners on this new fund, which will provide much needed finance to support their recovery and work going forward.  We are incredibly grateful for the support of The National Lottery Community Fund in enabling this fund.”

Daniel Brewer, CEO, Resonance said: “We are delighted to be back with the Social Enterprise Support Fund in 2021/22, following its success last year where it supported over 600 social enterprises, we are excited to be working again in close collaboration with our friends and partners. The Fund will provide essential financial support to help social enterprises, right across England, to rebuild and grow their income from trading, following the impact of COVID-19 and provide support to the communities they serve

“We know from our close work with social enterprises that there is a massive demand for this support, so I would urge social enterprises, that are eligible to apply to the fund to do so at their earliest opportunity possible.”

Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: “This fund will provide essential finance to get social entrepreneurs back on their feet, so they can do what they do best: improving lives and transforming local communities. We’re proud to be working in partnership again with other support organisations and The National Lottery Community Fund to deliver grants at this critical juncture for social entrepreneurs.”

Danyal Sattar, CEO, The Big Issue Invest said: “We get to back people doing the best work in the country, in our social enterprise and charity sectors, supporting people in the most difficult of circumstances.  The community organisations we support are often led by women, or people from diverse backgrounds.  The very nature of their being support social equity and I’m proud to be able to back them with this new programme today.”

To apply, visit http://socialenterprisesupportfund.org.uk/.


[1] https://www.pioneerspost.com/news-views/20180920/uk-social-enterprises-contribute-3-of-gdp-claims-seuk-research

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