Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme 2020

Three women of different ages and ethnicities sit smiling in a row with notebooks, learning

Applications for this programme have closed.

If you’ve submitted an application  – congrats.  See FAQs below for next steps.

This programme supports social impact leaders in Scotland to get back on track, after Covid-19.

Participants will learn how to increase resilience, develop different income streams and ways of working suited to the online, post Covid-19 new normal.

Trade Up offers a year of support, including:

  • An instant grant of £2,000 to kick-start your recovery*
  • Plus up to £5,000 incentivised grant (pound-for-pound matches an increase in income from trading)*
  • Free learning programme (14 learning days spread over a year) focused on recovery, rebuilding and resilience to best meet the challenges of the post Covid-19 new normal
  • Support network
  • Mentoring

*We call this a ‘Trade Back’ grant and it’s our response to the Covid-19 crisis to ensure you’re better supported.  It’s brand new and we’ve updated the application guidance notes to reflect the change.  We’ve increased the grant amount, thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland.

Not in Scotland? Click here


If need any of the information about this programme in another format, please let us know on 0207 089 9120 or [email protected] and we will do everything we can to accommodate your needs.

Find out more

Discover how SSE Scotland supported Indie Flynn, founder of Square Peg:



How do I apply?

Applications for this programme have closed.

Our recruitment process and all other activity will take place online until government guidelines change.

Is Trade Up for me?

Trade Up could be right for you if:

  • You have set up an effective social enterprise in Scotland, and want help getting back on track after the Covid-19 crisis.
  • Your project has been active for at least one year, with income of more than £15,000 in the last or current financial year. We will consider the impact of Covid-19 when assessing the income criteria. So if you were expecting to have £15,000 income this year, but you are not going to because of Covid-19, please tell us about this in your application form. We will take this into account.
  • You’re aged 16+.
  • You’re based in the UK and your project mainly creates impact in the UK.
  • You’re committed to taking part in 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.

When and where is the programme?

The learning programme consists of 14 days, spread over a year, starting in October 2020. Typically, you attend for a day or two a month. All activities will take place online until government guidelines on social distancing change.

The Trade Up programme runs in Edinburgh.

You might also be interested in our Trade Up locations in England.

What will I learn?

The Trade Up programme will be designed to help you bounce back from the Covid19 crisis.

We’ll make sure the learning on this programme is adapted to meet your needs. Topics will be shaped by students’ needs, but likely to include:

  • Refine your social impact measurement
  • Develop the link between your trading and your impact goals
  • Develop your business plan and diverse income streams
  • Test and refine your marketing
  • Grow your customer base
  • Win contracts
  • Improve your financial management
  • Manage staff and volunteers (this may include remote management)
  • Manage projects and delegate
  • Improve your leadership skills
  • Develop your networks

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.

How does the Trade Back grant work?

Great news: Thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund Scotland, we’ve increased the available grant amount to up to £7,000!  Only in Scotland.

SSE has created the Trade Back grant in response to the Covid-19 crisis as we recognise that many organisations have lost trading income.

We’ll give you a £2,000 instant grant to kick-start recovery efforts and support leaders to put into practice new ideas and initiatives.

You’ll then access an incentivised grant of up to £5,000 to accelerate recovery and growth.  It’s similar to our Match Trading grants which match an increase in income from trading and sales, pound-for-pound.

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 The Big Lottery Community Fund.

Is all this really free!

Yes! You can use the grant for your project’s running cost and to pay for travel and subsistence to support you in attending the learning programme.  The learning programme and mentoring is fully funded, thanks to funding from our partners Bank of Scotland, Scottish Government and The National Lottery Community Fund. The School for Social Entrepreneurs is a charity.

I've submitted my application - what happens next?

May 2020: Once we have received your application, we assess it to check that you meet the basic eligibility criteria and that your application is complete. (Please note that incomplete applications will be rejected.) Your application will then be assessed by the SSE team at your chosen location. You will find out by end of the May whether your application will be taken to the next stage.

May/June 2020:  If you’re accepted to the next stage, you’ll be invited to attend an information session and interview at your chosen location. We’ll make any reasonable adjustments to ensure you feel comfortable, and you can attend online if you can’t make it in person. At this stage, we may ask you to provide your proof of identity and right to work. We’ll let you know if you’ve made it through to the next stage by June or July.

June/July 2020: You will be invited to present a quick pitch of your plans to a selection panel. We’ll make any reasonable adjustments to ensure you feel comfortable, and you can attend online if you can’t make it in person.

August 2020: If successful, you will be offered a grant offer and learning programme package, with 30 days to sign and accept the terms and conditions

October 2020: The learning programme starts in October 2020 and runs until October 2021.

NB.  All assessment, recruitment and learning will be online until government guidelines on social distancing change.