Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Trade Up Programme

A group of people of different ages, genders and ethnicities looking happy with arms up

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About this programme

It’s for people who have set up social enterprise already, and plan to increase income and impact.

Social entrepreneurs 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:

  • Up to £4,000 Trade Back grant
  • Free learning programme (14 learning days spread over a year)
  • Support network
  • A mentor

Scale Up is for more established projects and there is a Start Up level.

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 Frankie, who has completed the Trade Up programme:


How do I apply?

Applications have now closed. Discover our other courses here.

Is Trade Up for me? Am I eligible?

Trade Up could be right for you if:

  • You have set up an effective social enterprise, and plan to increase your income and impact in the year ahead.
  • Your project has been active at least one year, with income of more than £15,000 in the last or current financial year (total income, including trading, grant and donations).  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 attending 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).

All activities will take place online until government social distancing guidelines change.

In 2021-22, the Trade Up programme will run in these locations:

  • Cornwall
  • London
  • Liverpool


What will I learn?

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 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 match you with a mentor from Lloyds Banking Group.

How does the Trade Back grant work?

In response to the economic crisis, the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) has created Trade Back: a new type of grant that incentivises social organisations to trade, while supporting them to recover and rebuild.

The Trade Back grant is made up of two parts: a small traditional grant to kick-start recovery efforts; plus an incentivised grant to accelerate growth by rewarding an increase in income from trading.

On this programme you get a traditional grant of £2,000 plus up to £2,000 incentivised grant that pound-for-pound matches an increase in income from trading.

Check out this 80 second video


Trade Back draws on the learning from Match Trading® grants, which  have supported 500+ social organisations, increasing their income on average by 2.5 times compared to those receiving traditional grants.   Unlike a Match Trading grant, Trade Back takes into account the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis on income from trading amounts. Trade Back grants match ‘pound-for-pound’ any increase in income from trading above Covid period levels.

Read more about how Match Trading supports social entrepreneurs to increase their sales.


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, The National Lottery Community Fund and Scottish Government. The School for Social Entrepreneurs is a charity.

Logo for Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Programme, in partnership with the School for Social Entrepreneurs and the National Lottery Community Fund.