Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme 2018 (includes Match Trading grant)

Applications are open! Get the application pack

This programme is only available to social entrepreneurs based in Scotland. Go here if you’re not based in Scotland.

You’ve been running a social enterprise, charity or impact project in Scotland for at least a year, and it’s making more than £15,000 a year.  (Earlier stage than that? Try Start Up.)

Now you want to make your model more robust and increase your sales.

That’s where we come in. Our programme could help you:

  • Learn how to strengthen your model and grow through sales, with 14 learning days spread over a year.
  • Fund your plans with up to £5,000 from a Match Trading grant: funding that matches sales growth pound-for-pound.
  • Get to know other social entrepreneurs, who’ll support your plans and help you through tough times.
  • Be supported by a one-to-one mentor.

Not in Scotland? Click here  |  Book a free taster session

There is no cost to you at any point, thanks to our partners Bank of Scotland and Big Lottery Fund Scotland.

The deadline for applications is 1pm, Thursday 26th April 2018.


How do I apply?

Applications are open now! Download the application pack, which contains the application questions and our guidance notes.

Once you’ve read through those, you apply online (via links on this web-page).

The deadline for applications is 1pm, Thursday 26th April 2018.

After that, we’ll assess your application. If you go through to the next stage, we’ll invite you to two rounds of interviews to find out more about you and your plans.

Is Trade Up for me?

Trade Up could be right for you if:

  • You have set up an effective social enterprise in Scotland, and plan to increase your income and impact in the year ahead.
  • Your project has been active for at least one year, with income of more than £15,000 in the last or current financial year.
  • You’re aged 16+.
  • You’re based in the UK and your project mainly creates impact in the UK.
  • You’re committed to attending the learning programme.

We’re not worried about:

  • Whether you’d call yourself a “social entrepreneur” – the key is that your idea or organisation is committed to helping those in need or improving a community.
  • Your background, education or experience – we welcome people from all backgrounds, of all abilities, and we make no judgements on your past.

Here’s more from our CEO Ali:

When and where is the programme?

The learning programme consists of 14 days, spread between October 2018 – October 2019. Typically, you attend for a day or two a month.

The Trade Up programme runs in Edinburgh.

Organisations from anywhere in the UK can also apply to our Trade Up locations in England.

What will I learn?

The Trade Up programme will help you increase your income and impact in the year ahead. You’ll learn how to:

  • Refine your social impact measurement
  • Develop the link between your trading and your impact goals
  • Develop your business plan and income streams
  • Test and refine your marketing
  • Grow your customer base
  • Win contracts
  • Improve your financial management
  • Manage staff and volunteers
  • Project-manage and delegate
  • Improve your leadership skills
  • Develop your networks

Book onto a free taster session

You’ll be in a group of around 20 people who are at a similar stage to you, starting up a social or environmental project. (More info below.)

Our learning programmes are very different to traditional teaching. We’re not about essays and academia. We believe in learning from other people’s stories. You’ll hear from inspiring social entrepreneurs who speak frankly about the good, the bad and the ugly of running an organisation.

Here’s the type of story you might hear, and playlist of videos shares plenty more:

We’ll also introduce you to experts to help you develop new skills. You’ll build a network of peers and professionals who can support you.

The course is a transformational experience that will push, challenge and support you. It will give you the confidence and skills to create the impact you’re aiming for.

Who are the people I’ll be learning with?

You’ll be in a cohort of around 20 other social entrepreneurs at a similar stage to you, from all backgrounds. You’ll form an ‘action learning set’ that helps you reflect and develop in a trusted circle.

Here’s a video that explains action learning:

These trusted relationships with other social entrepreneurs are really important to our students: 19 in 20 students stay in touch with people they met at SSE after they finish the programme.

How much time will it take?

The 14 learning days are normally run in one or two-day blocks that happen every six to eight weeks, so you have enough time to get on with everything else.

You’ll also meet with a mentor four times throughout the year, when it’s convenient for you both.

How does the Match Trading grant work?

We want to support you to increase your income from trading and sales.

So as part of this programme, you have access to a Match Trading™ grant of up to £4,000. The Match Trading grant matches increases in your income from trading and sales, pound-for-pound, up to £4,000.

Check out the video below, and read more about how Match Trading supports social entrepreneurs to increase their sales.

Match Trading™ was developed by the School for Social Entrepreneurs with the support of pioneer partners Lloyds Banking Group and Big Lottery Fund.

Will I have a mentor?

Yes, we’ll match you with a mentor from the Bank of Scotland.

These mentors are business experts who are excited about social enterprise. They volunteer their time to help you develop your organisation and overcome challenges. They can often make useful introductions too.

Is there a cost for me?

There is never any cost to you, thanks to funding from our partners Bank of Scotland and Big Lottery Fund Scotland.

What’s the deadline to apply?

The deadline for applications is 1pm, Thursday 26th April 2018.

Download the application pack now!

Where can I find out more?


Get the application pack

Please fill out the form below to get the guidance notes and application questions. These include instructions on how to apply.

Trade Up Scotland 2018 - download form