AWE Making a Difference

A cheerful group of women enjoying an SSE course

Fully funded online and face to face sustainable business courses for women

Last chance to apply for Sofa Sessions .

Thinking of starting a business that helps people or the environment? Want to grow your income and impact? Need space and structure to update your strategy?

If you’re in the early stages of a project, we’ll help you develop the skills, confidence and networks you need to take your next steps in Sofa Sessions and practical Nuts & Bolts courses. Established social entrepreneurs can find space to develop and grow their business on our Residential Accelerators. You’ll be in a safe and supportive group, learning from each other. This is practical learning – no textbooks in sight, and you don’t need any qualifications. People on our programmes become 39% better at business skills & improve their networks by 44% in one year, on average (source: annual report 2020-21).

What have I learned from the AWE programme? So many different things ranging from how to develop my ideas, how to plan around them, how to market, how to use social media better, how to manage money better both personally and professionally, how to move things forward, where my weaknesses lie and lots more.

What’s on offer?

For women who live in Somerset and surrounding areas, applications are open now for Sofa Sessions and Nuts & Bolts workshops. If you’re interested in our Residential Accelerators running in Hampshire and Cornwall please use the form below to let us know and we’ll be in touch soon. Read on to find out more about course content, eligibility, start dates and application deadlines.

Sofa Sessions

This online group training and coaching course will help you get started with a new community business, whether or not you’ve decided on the idea you want to develop. This is an ideal way to turn a community or voluntary project into a social enterprise. You’ll get a chance to absorb programme info before the 3 friendly and informal weekly sessions start, on 15 March 2023. The sessions cover:

  • Exploring your purpose and developing an idea for an enterprise
  • A look at mission, vision and values, and the basics of getting started
  • Crystallising your idea with group feedback

Apply for Sofa Sessions – deadline 8am on 15 March 2023

Nuts & Bolts

This course will teach you the practical skills to run a business that helps the community or the environment, and how your work can achieve positive change. The topics covered in three online sessions are:

  • Understanding the market
  • Customers and competitors
  • Building your brand
  • Managing money and risk
  • Improving personal effectiveness

Apply for Nuts & Bolts – deadline 8am on 15 March 2023


Sofa Sessions


Nuts & Bolts

9.30am -3.00pm

Delivery dates 15 March 15 March
22 March 22 March
29 March 29 March

 Deadline 15 March

Deadline 15 March

Andrea’s intro

Award winning facilitator, Andrea Gamson, gives a flavour of what to expect on Sofa Sessions and Nuts & Bolts courses.


Residential Accelerators

Join one of our two day accelerator courses focussing on how to increase impact or grow your business. Overnight accommodation is available without charge.

Location Hampshire Plymouth/Cornwall
Date 25 – 26 February 13 – 14 March
Eligibility Hampshire only Plymouth/Cornwall, Devon, Dorset
Venue Marwell Hotel, Winchester Duke of Cornwall Hotel, Plymouth
Application Deadline 13 February 6 March

Fill out our enquiry form if you’d like to be considered for either residential course. We’ll get back to you with info and updates as soon as they’re released.

Peer Networking and Mentoring

We can help establish supportive professional relationships for people who attend our Weekend Residentials to help their businesses thrive.

Get in touch if you want to find out more about any course content and joining: [email protected] or  020 3905 3535

Express your interest

Please use this form to let us know you’re interested in

  • Sofa Sessions or Nuts & Bolts in Somerset and surrounding areas
  • Weekend Residentials accelerators for people living or working in Cornwall, Dorset and Devon.

  • Companies’ House / Charity Commission / as a Sole Trader etc
  • Please indicate YES or NO. If YES, please provide details.
  • Please indicate YES or NO. If YES, please provide details.

Accelerating Women’s Enterprise (AWE) is a collaborative project to help women living either side of the English Channel to increase their skills and develop their business ideas and knowledge.

Hear more about students’ experiences on the AWE website.


Am I eligible?

These courses are for people who identify as women, or are non-binary and comfortable being part of a course primarily for women.

Sofa Sessions and Nuts & Bolts workshops are for people who live in Somerset and surrounding areas. Priority will be given to women applying from Somerset West and Taunton, Mendip, South Somerset and Sedgemoor.

Residential Accelerators are available for people living or working in Hampshire, Cornwall, Dorset and Devon.

Peer Networking and Mentoring would be available to participants from any of these areas, who want to take the next step.

We encourage applications from people who:
• are from racialised and minoritised communities*
• are disabled, including non-visible and learning disabilities, and d/Deaf
• are LGBTQ+
• work in low-income areas
• have first-hand “lived” experience of your project’s main focus (e.g. you’re an ex-offender and
want to support other ex-offenders into work)

Support with the application process is available.

If you face financial barriers to applying, get in touch with Fliss to see if we can help: [email protected] or  020 3905 3535

If you are not eligible, try searching SSE’s other courses, or download the AWE Legacy Toolkit for more independent learning.

*We know that language about identity is personal and these terms won’t feel right to everyone. We mean people who may identify as Black, Brown, bi- or multi-racial, being from a diaspora, having Asian/African/Caribbean/Latinx/Middle Eastern/Indigenous heritage, as a “person of colour”, Jewish, and/or from a white ethnic minority such as Gypsy, Roma, Traveller. We have consulted our community to shape this language.

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Courses are provided by our teams in the South West and Hampshire, in partnership with YTKO. AWE is supported by the Interreg France (Channel) England Programme, which is contributing over €2.6m of European Regional Development Funds to address economic and social issues in regions either side of the Channel.

Through this collaborative, cross-border approach, we seek to improve the quality and effectiveness of support to socially or economically disadvantaged and under-represented groups and to address the gender imbalance in entrepreneurship.

The AWE project aims to:

  • create new learning content
  • train women entrepreneurs
  • recruit and train more mentors
  • help women to start new businesses
  • conduct new research on women’s entrepreneurship

Find out more on the AWE website.