Applications for this programme are now closed. If you are interested in the programme, please email

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. 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.

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?

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 impact

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.

Read about Jenni, a current student on the programme

How do I apply?

The deadline closed on 1pm, Monday 16th October 2017. If you are interested in applying, please email

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 about:

  • Growing your organisation
  • How to grow through trading and sales
  • Foundations: entrepreneurialism, impact and design thinking
  • Financial Management and business Model
  • Sources of funding
  • Marketing

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. Other people in your organisation can attend some sessions, too.

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.

Watch our Facebook Live recording to hear more about the programme.

Read about Fiona, a current student on 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). The grant is linked to your growth over the year – we call it a Match Trading grant.

Express your interest

The deadline for applications closed on Monday 16th October. If you are interested in applying, please email