Funding for your Social Enterprise

Firstport’s Award Programme supports individuals to turn their ideas into thriving social enterprises.

What is a social enterprise?

Social enterprise is simply a way of doing business which focuses on tackling social problems, strengthening communities, improving people’s life chances or protecting the environment, as opposed to generating profit for private individuals or bodies. Any surplus income that a social enterprise generates (after covering its costs – including salaries for those running the organisation and delivering services) are reinvested in the business, and go towards its social aims. 

The Social Entrepreneurs Fund

The Awards Programme is funded by the Scottish Government’s Social Entrepreneurs Fund (SEF), which since 2009 has invested £2.7m to date in individuals across Scotland to start up new social enterprises. SEF looks for individuals who have a focus on the business side of their idea and are looking to create a long-term solution to a social issue.

What support is available through the Awards Programme?

The Awards Programme offers two different levels of start-up awards – Start It and Build It, together with business support from a dedicated team of advisors to help you develop the skills and knowledge you’ll need to succeed.

The links on the right will help guide you through the application process for each level.  The Awards Programme is highly competitive, so you will need to be sure that your idea meets the specific funding criteria for each level.  Of those applications that are eligible, we support the ideas that can provide the strongest evidence of their business potential, and their ability to create significant, lasting social impact.


Our first level of funding is for individuals with an innovative business idea which addresses a social, environmental and/or community issue.  You can apply for up to £5,000 start-up costs to pilot your idea.


The next level of funding is for individuals who have already piloted their social enterprise idea (either with or without support from our ‘Start It’ programme) and have proven that the concept works. 

Funding of up to £20,000 is available to cover an individual’s salary/living costs for one year, so that they can begin running the business full time. An additional £5,000 discretionary funding is available on top of this for other costs in certain cases.