The Community Business Trade Up Programme

Helping you to improve your local area

large group of people in a greenhouse

Do you run a project or organisation that exists to improve your local community?   Is it led by local people and ideally less than four years’ old?  It’s tough and rewarding.  But you never get the time to focus ‘on the business’ as you’re always ‘running the business’.

This FREE support programme will give you the head-space, support network and funding needed to start or diversify your income from trading.  You’ll become a stronger, more sustainable community business as a result of this programme.

Apply now

We welcome applications from all community businesses.  We’re particularly keen to support community business who meet any of these criteria:

  • Led by a board or team who are mostly from a racialised and minoritised community*
  • Led by a board or team of mostly young people (aged 16-35) 
  • Located in and giving support to very deprived or disadvantaged local communities

Key features

  • A free learning programme, to help you build your income, confidence, resilience and impact
  • Up to £5,000 Match Trading grant
  • A community business peer mentor
  • An opportunity to meet regularly with other people running organisations like yours, so you can help each other out

Programme benefits

  • Grow a stronger, more sustainable community business or project
  • Start or build your income from trading and sales
  • Benefit from time to reflect and map out next steps
  • Improve your leadership and business skills
  • Build a local support network of other people running organisations like yours

You’ll benefit from SSE’s practical learning style and Action Learning approach. No textbooks – just inspiring people who’ve been there and done it.

Is this right for me?

This programme is open to ‘early stage’ community businesses in England – ideally less than four years old that are working towards these criteria:

  • Locally rooted – your organisation exists to benefit your local neighbourhood, village or town; your local area is at the heart of what you do
  • Accountable to the local community – you consult local people about what you do, and communicate with them
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community – you want to increase your income from trading by at least £4,000 in the next year, with profits re-invested to benefit your local community
  • Making a broad community impact – what you do engages different groups of people from your local area

How to apply

We recommend you read the application guidance notes before starting your application.

Community Business Trade Up 2022 guidance notes

Large print, plain text version

You can find a copy of the application questions here – large print, plain text version here. You are not required to use this document – it is only to help you. You cannot use this document to apply – you must complete the online application.

Complete the online application form

Diversity and inclusion

SSE and Power to Change are committed to the advancement of diversity, inclusion and equality. We encourage and welcome applications from community businesses from all backgrounds, which meet our grant requirements and are looking to make a real difference to the lives of their local communities.

We welcome applications from all community businesses particular those meeting any of these criteria:

  • Led by a board or team who are mostly from a racialised and minoritised community
  • Led by a board or team who are mostly young people (aged 16-35) 
  • Located in and giving support to very deprived or disadvantaged local communities

More about the programme impact

The Community Business Trade Up Programme is run in partnership with Power to Change. Together, we have already supported 400 community businesses and other projects improving their local area.

Community businesses on this programme typically increased their income from trading by 64% in one year.

 

Pic of queue for food served by Food Education Enterprise in Derby. With quote about Community Business Trade Up programme

 

 

* We know that language about identity is personal and these terms won’t feel right to everyone. By “people from racialised and minoritised communities”, 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.

Main image courtesy of Amanda Stockley

FAQ

What will I learn?

The programme is a transformational experience that will push, challenge and support you.

The programme has been co-designed with community business leaders to ensure it is relevant to you.  Content will respond to the needs of community businesses throughout.

Likely topics include:
• Leadership and management
• Confidence and resilience
• Community–based board governance
• Legal and tax requirements, policies, contractual agreements
• Relationship and conflict management in a community context
• Building a community support base
• Social and community impact – measurement and evaluation
• Product development and pricing
• Marketing, building and retaining a customer base, branding and sales, on-line
presence
• Building a diverse and sustainable income mix
• Producing a realistic and useful business plan
• Negotiating and pitching
• Winning contracts
• Social investment
• Financial management (budgeting, financial accounting, management
accounting, cashflow)
• Building a staff and volunteer team and a great place to work

You’ll be in a group of around 10 other people 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. These trusted relationships with peers are really important to our students: 19 in 20 students stay in touch with people they met at SSE after they finish our programmes.

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

How do I apply?

Apply online before 1pm, Thursday 28th July.  We recommend you read the application guidance notes before starting your application.

What counts as a "community business"? Am I eligible?

People on this programme run a really broad range of organisations, projects and businesses – including community centres and hubs, cooperatives, pubs and breweries, farm and food projects, clubs, venues and spaces, swimming pools, woodlands, and even a laundrette!

They call themselves lots of different things, but they all count as community businesses because they put their local community at the heart of what they do.

To be eligible, you must demonstrate that you’re working towards these criteria:

  • Locally rooted – your organisation exists to benefit your local neighbourhood, village or town; your local area is at the heart of what you do
  • Accountable to the local community – you consult local people about what you do, and communicate with them
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community – you want to increase your income from trading by at least £4,000 in the next year, with profits re-invested to benefit your local community
  • Making a broad community impact – what you do engages different groups of people from your local area

Read this blog about some of the people on the programme.

 

 

What are the locations and dates?

The learning programme takes place from October 2022 to September 2023 (12 months). It is approximately 12 learning days made up of eight study sessions and four Action Learning sessions.

The learning programme will be a mix of online and in person learning.

You’ll be grouped by geographical location so you can build valuable peer support between organisations in the same locality.

The learning programmes will be delivered by SSE’s teams located in these regions:
• North West (Liverpool)
• Midlands (Birmingham)
• South West (Bristol)
• London and the South East (London)

The programme is online and in-person.  You can use your grant to cover travel costs.

What if I have accessibility needs, or cannot afford travel or childcare?

Please talk to us about this. There is a separate small fund held by the SSE to enable students who have particular needs such as support with childcare, travel costs, or other issues to access the programme. We are keen to enable people with disabilities and other access issues to come to our programmes. This will be negotiated individually with participants. If you do have specific needs and are concerned about this, please contact us to discuss.

 

email us at [email protected]

How does the Match Trading grant work?

Match Trading grants match ‘pound-for-pound’ an increase in income from trading.  The grant is designed to challenge you to grow your trading income.

Your community business will receive £1,000 up front, and then four installments of up to £1,000 over the year depending on how much your trading income increases.

The grant can be used flexibly, helping you to attend the programme and to put your learning into practice, by developing your trading and community business.

We recommend you read the Application Guidance Notes for further detail on the grant.

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 National Lottery Community Fund.

Is all this really free?

Power to Change is fully funding this programme, so there is no cost to you, and it is providing grants of up to £5,000 (a grant is money you don’t have to pay back). Power to Change is an independent charitable trust endowed by The National Lottery Community Fund. Its aim is to support community businesses in England to create better places.

Can I talk to someone to find out more?

Of course.  Try to attend one of our online information webinars.

Or email us: [email protected]

 

 

Can I apply if I've already completed an SSE programme before?

If you’ve completed a different SSE programme before, yes absolutely you can apply.

If you’ve completed Community Business Trade Up programme before, you can apply again if it is for a different enterprise or community project.

 

Do you offer support with the application form as it's easier to explain my enterprise verbally?

We can set up a meeting to help you write your application.  Please email us at [email protected] to request an online meeting.

I am in the process of setting up my enterprise and have no trading income or experience. Is the programme right for me?

Potentially yes.  We do require you o have a legal structure before the programme begins in late October 2022.  If you think you can set up the legal structure before the programme starts, please do apply.

SSE has other start up level programmes that might be right for you.  Sign up to our weekly newsletter to keep up to date.

 

 

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