Are you running a community business – an organisation that directly benefits your local area? Do you want to increase your impact and sales?

We could support you through the Community Business Trade Up Programme, run by School for Social Entrepreneurs, in partnership with Power to Change. Applications are open now!

This programme helps the leaders of community businesses and community-focused social enterprises in England, with:

  • A fully-funded learning programme: 12 days spread over six months
  • A grant of up to £10,000
  • A community of people running organisations like yours

There is no cost to you at any point.

We’ll help 100 community businesses across England grow by supporting them to increase their sales, so their impact can become more sustainable.

School for Social Entrepreneurs has spent 20 years supporting people who start and run organisations to help people in need and improve communities.

Sign up to a free taster session to find out more!

Florence making jewellery

Florence Norman, Sweet Cavanagh

“SSE has been a place of confidence building and skill honing, but furthermore it’s been the most incredible platform of resources and support.”

Is it really free?

Yes! Power to Change is fully funding this programme, and providing grants of up to £10,000 (a grant is money you don’t have to pay back).

Power to Change is an independent charitable trust endowed by the Big Lottery Fund. Its aim is to support community businesses in England to create better places.

Am I eligible for Community Business Trade Up?

We’re looking for community businesses who want to grow by increasing their sales (trading).

A community business is run by and for a local community. Its profits are reinvested for the benefit of that community. Your organisation must be committed to and working towards these criteria:

  • Locally rooted
  • Accountable to the local community;
  • Trading for the benefit of the local community;
  • Making a broad community

Your community business must be at an early-stage: it will have already started, and will have plans to grow its trading (income from sales) by at least £10,000 in the next year.

To read more about eligibility, please download the Application Pack

How do I apply?

Applications for the 2018 programme opened on Thursday 13th July 2017.

The deadline is 1pm, Wednesday 11th October 2017. We can send you a deadline reminder nearer the time, if you like – just select that option when you download the Application Pack below.

You apply by submitting an Application Form, which is in the Application Pack. If you get through to the next stage, you’ll be invited to interview in November 2017.

Download the Application Pack

When & where does the programme run?

The programme runs from January 2018 – July 2018.

You can attend the programme at one of eight locations across England: York, Liverpool, Midlands, East (Ipswich), Hampshire (Winchester), London, Devon, Cornwall.

We’ll ask for your first choice of location when you apply, and will do our best to accommodate it, if you’re successful (though we can’t guarantee it).

What happens on the 12 learning days?

The Community Business Trade Up programme helps you grow your community business and its impact, with a focus on growing through trading (i.e. increasing sales).

You’ll learn in a group of 10 people running organisations like yours, meeting one or two days a month. You’ll build a network of peers and professionals who can support you.

School for Social Entrepreneurs’ learning programmes are different to traditional teaching. We’re not about essays and academia. We focus on practical actions you can take to make improvements to your organisation right now.

We believe in learning from other people’s experiences. You’ll hear from inspiring leaders 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 here are more examples:

What will I learn?

You’ll learn about building sustainable growth, with an emphasis on trading revenue streams. This programme is designed to help organisations create a robust foundation and business model that works, creating the impact you want. It coves:

  • Foundations: entrepreneurialism, impact and design thinking
  • Financial Management and Business Model
  • Sources of Funding
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Growing your organisation

Sign up to a free taster session near you to find out more!

Who are the people I’ll be learning with? Can more than one person from my organisation attend?

You’ll learn in a group of around 10 people running community businesses. We know that community businesses often have more than one leader, so you can invite your colleagues to attend sessions too. There’s more info on this in the Guidance Notes, which you can download in the Application Pack below.

You’ll form an ‘Action Learning Set’ with people in your learning cohort, which helps you reflect and develop in a trusted circle.

Here’s a video that explains Action Learning:

Our students really value these connections with each other: 19 in 20 students stay in touch with people they met at SSE after they finish the programme.

How does the grant work?

Students on this programme receive a grant of up to £10,000, which you can draw down over 12 months (January – December 2018). Please download the Application Pack below for full information on the grant.

Interested in applying?

Download the Application Pack below for full information on this programme, and to get your Application Form.

You can also sign up to a free taster session to find out more.

If you’d like help assessing whether you’re eligible before completing the Application Form, please fill out this quick Expression of Interest form by 1pm, Thursday 31st August. We’ll then get in touch to help you decide whether you should apply.

The deadline for applications is 1pm, Wednesday 11th October. We can send you an email reminder when the deadline is approaching, if you like – just select that option when you get the Application Pack below.

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