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About this programme
The programme is for people in the early stages of setting up a social enterprise, charity or social impact project. This fully funded course is a transformational experience that gives entrepreneurs the confidence and skills to create social and environmental impact.
Change-makers are supported with:
- A free learning programme (14 learning days, spread over a year)
- A grant of £1,000 (money you don’t pay back)
- A peer support network
- A mentor
Trade Up is for projects running for over a year.
Our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion
We encourage and welcome applications from social entrepreneurs from all backgrounds and are looking to make a real difference to the lives of their local communities. We want to make sure this programme supports communities that face systemic barriers.
We welcome applications from everyone with priority given to:
- those working in deprived areas
- people of colour and from minoritised ethnic backgrounds
- disabled people
- LGBTQ+ people
- and/or organisations supporting these groups.
Hear from Lyndall, who has completed the Start Up programme:
How do I apply?
Applications have now closed. Discover our other courses here.
Is Start Up for me? Am I eligible?
Start Up could be right for you if:
- You want to start a project or organisation committed to making a social or environmental impact, in a disadvantaged area or with people in need.
- Your project is in the planning stages but ready to start, or less than two years old.
- You don’t yet have any project income, or your project income is less than £15,000 a year.
- You’re aged 16+.
- You’re based in the UK and your idea aims to create impact in the UK.
- You’re committed to participating 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.
What are the dates and locations?
The learning programme consists of 12-14 days, spread over a year, starting in October 2021 and running to October 2022. Typically, you attend for a day or two a month (not including school holidays). However, all learning activities will take place online until government guidelines on social distancing change.
The Start Up programme will run in the following regions in 2021-22 (though you can apply from anywhere in the UK):
- East of England (Ipswich)
- Hampshire (Winchester)
- South West (Dartington)
- Midlands (Birmingham)
- Yorkshire and North East (York)
What will I learn?
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.
The Start Up programme helps you to get a new social enterprise up and running. You’ll learn about how to:
- Set up your organisation, using a suitable legal structure
- Make money and develop your business model
- Manage finances
- Develop your impact and purpose
- Keep a work/life balance
- Build networks
- Do marketing and social media
- Build confidence in your leadership skills
You’ll need even greater resilience, skills and networks to survive and thrive in these challenging times. We’ll make sure the learning on this programme is adapted to meet your needs.
You’ll be in a group of around 20 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. 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.
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. (This playlist of videos shares the types of stories you’ll hear.)
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.
To help keep you on track, we’ll also match you with a mentor from Lloyds Banking Group.
How does the grant work?
All students on the Start Up programme receive a grant of £1,000, thanks to funding from The National Lottery Community Fund. (A grant is money to help you start up your project that you don’t have to pay back.)
If you join the programme you will be paired with a grant manager, who’ll help out with any questions you have about your grant. Payment of the grant is directly linked to course participation.
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 Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Scottish Government and The National Lottery Community Fund. The School for Social Entrepreneurs is a charity.