Trading for Good: Community Business

Funded programme for people who want to improve their community


Smiling people enjoying a meal together in a community hub. A graphic reads 'the good of your community in your hands'.

growing seedling icon yellow icon of a graph showing increasing values blue icon with outline of two hands either side of a heart
Learning and
development programme
Match Trading™ grant Ready-made network


Who it’s for
People developing community businesses Planning to grow trading income Based in England Income under £100k

Develop your community business through a specialist programme of support.

With a group of others like you, you will learn from the experts, and each other, to grow your community business. You will also receive a Match Trading™ Grant that combined with the learning programme will support you to develop trading income streams and build a resilient community business.

The programme:

  • Learning and development programme
  • Match Trading™ Grant of up to £4,000.
  • Ready-made network of others like you.
  • Expert insights.
  • Peer-to-peer learning.
  • Join our community of 3k+ SSE fellows.

You develop skills to:

  • Generate income to be invested in your community through trading.
  • Create a resilient, growing community business.
  • Adapt to changes in external environments.
  • Develop emotional resourcefulness.
  • Build and benefit from new networks.
  • Positively impact your community.

Register your interest


Who it’s for  Learning and development programme Ready-made network of support
Match Trading grant of up to £4,000 About School for Social Entrepreneurs How to apply


“The programme and Match Trading added the wind to our sails. Until applying for the SSE programme, Kitty’s Launderette had been a development project. The programme came at a crucial time.”

Grace Harrison, Kitty’s Launderette

two people talking with others in the background

Who it’s for

Your organisation must be committed to and working towards being a community business. A community business is run by and for a local community for a social or environmental purpose. Its profits are reinvested for the benefit of that community. It must be aiming to be: 

  •  Locally rooted. It should be based within a defined geographical area (e.g. a village or town, or a ward, or borough). 
  •  Accountable to the local community. It must demonstrate that the local community is involved in planning and supporting the community business, as well as simply using its services.  
  •  Trading for the benefit of the local community. It must be trading or planning to trade with profits reinvested in the community or to support activity in the community. 
  •   Making a broad community impact. It must either be working with a broad section of the community or have a specific focus on a particular group, e.g. people from minoritized ethnicities or disabled people, in the local community. 

Your organisation must:

  • Be based in England.
  • Plan on starting or growing the income it makes from trading.
  • Be established within the last 1-5 years.
  • Have an income of less than £100,000 per year.

For full eligibility details register your interest and read the guidance notes sent to your email.

Is this the right Trading For Good programme for me?

If you are looking to create positive social or environmental impact but don’t fit the description of a community business above check out:


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Learning and development programme

You will come together with seasoned experts, our experienced facilitators and other community business leaders to develop skills to build strong community businesses.

How you will learn

SSE’s learning programmes are very different to traditional teaching. We’re not about essays and academia so expect to try new approaches and learn through doing. 

icon showing blue outline of a brain Community business leaders and experts share their experiences, challenges, methods and insights.  blue icon of people outlines Your group is a ready-made support network who you will help you realise your ambitions. 
blue lightbulb icon Specialist facilitators create space for people to share, collaborate and develop. blue icon with outline of two hands either side of a heart Action Learning Sets help you take the actions needed to overcome challenges.

Where it takes place

Some sessions will take place online and some in-person. There will be a cohort in each of the three locations. When you apply you can choose which cohort you would like to join.

  • Birmingham
  • London
  • Manchester

Topics covered: 

  • Engaging with your local community 
  • Developing the link between your trading and your impact goals 
  • Growing your business and enterprise skills  
  • Testing and refining your marketing skills and growing your customer base 
  • Financial resilience and sustainability 
  • Planning and management 
  • Confidence-building, adaptability and emotional resourcefulness 
  • Improving your leadership skills 
  • Developing your networks 


Back to top How to apply

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Ready-made network of support

Connect and grow with others like you. Share your burdens, help each other stimulate ideas and overcome challenges.

We bring people together who are at similar stages of their community business journey because the support, insight and connections that can be gained from the group has proved invaluable on all the courses we have been running for the last 25+ years. 

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“SSE offered me an opportunity to learn everything I need to make my enterprise a successful business. The added bonus is the invaluable support and advice provided by my peers and everyone involved on the course.”


Nour Chakroun, Inspiring Women’s Network.

Match Trading grant of up to £4,000

Your organisation will also receive a Match Trading grant of up to £4,000. This grant is designed to challenge you to grow your trading income. Match Trading has been proven to increase trading income and boost an organisations’ resilience. To claim the full grant, you will need to show that your trading income has increased by £4,000 over the year.

How it works

  • You receive £800 at the start of the programme.
  • When you increase your trading compared with the previous year we increase your grant up to £4,000.
  • Income is measured each quarter and paid in instalments of up to £800.


  • if you increase your income from trading by £3,000 then we give you £3,000.
  • if you increase your income from trading by £4,000 then we give you £4,000.
  • if you increase your income from trading by £5,000 then we give you £4,000.

Your 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.

Learn more about Match Trading here.

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A group of people stand on stage smiling at a graduation ceremony

About School for Social Entrepreneurs

We can’t fix issues like poverty, climate change and ill-health alone. That’s why the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) exists. SSE helps more than 1,000 people a year develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. It runs courses that equip people to start, scale and strengthen organisations that make a positive difference. But it is not a traditional school.

Learning with SSE is inspiring, action-based and accessible. SSE supports people in other ways too, such as funding and mentoring. Lord Michael Young founded SSE in 1997, and it’s grown to support people who have gone on to benefit the lives of millions of people across the world. Together, SSE is changing lives and transforming communities. 

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“This was a fabulous programme and I truly thank those who encouraged me to take part in it. I was able to build knowledge, skills and confidence to further develop my organisation by identifying where the gaps were and develop strategies to be more effective.”


Marie Henry, Breadline London

About Trading for Good

Trading For Good is a five-year project, delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs with support from Power to Change and The Dulverton Trust, in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund – the largest community funder in the UK. Thanks to National Lottery players, almost £5 million has been awarded to provide funding, education and support to more than 650 social entrepreneurs and community businesses across England. The programme will equip participants with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to develop and grow projects that tackle social and environmental challenges.  

How to apply

  1. Register interest here.
  2. You will be sent an email with guidance notes and a link to the application form.
  3. Make sure to read the guidance notes.
  4. Fill in the application form via the link in the email you are sent.
  5. Submit your form by 12pm on the 24th July.

Register your interest

Info sessions

We will be holding online info sessions for those that would like to find out more and ask one of our team questions.

Accessibility and help

If the guidance or application is formatted in a way that is not accessible to you and/or if you would like support toto submit your application via a video or audio file, then please email [email protected] so that we can aim to meet your access needs in the best way possible.  

If you have any other questions please check the FAQs below before contacting [email protected].

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Privacy and data protection

Trading for Good has a Privacy Policy which is available here. SSE also has a Data Protection
Policy you can read here.