Boost It

Frequently Asked Questions BoostIt

Why a repayable grant instead of a traditional grant? 

Having delivered the Social Entrepreneurs Fund for over 10 years, we know that:

  • £5,000 is sometimes not enough to get a social enterprise idea off the ground. This is particularly true for ideas operating in certain sectors due to higher initial capital costs. 
  • There is often a funding gap after our Build It award, where social entrepreneurs have realised their ideas have potential and have decided to turn them into full-time jobs, but they are still far from achieving sustainable trading. In addition, many social entrepreneurs do not feel ready or confident enough to access traditional social investment. 
  • The Social Entrepreneurs Fund is already a highly competitive programme, so we need to find innovative ways to make the funding go further. 
  • Our experience is mirrored by the results of the Social Enterprise Census, which noted a hesitant attitude towards social investment and modest levels of trading income. 

Boost It is also great news for future social enterprises, maximising the long-term impact of the fund as repayments go towards supporting even more great ideas to become sustainable. 

Is Boost It right for my enterprise? 
Boost It could be the right fund for you if you have a social enterprise idea and want to get it off the ground, but need an injection of capital to do so. It could also be right for you if you’ve been trading for up to three years but need further support to increase your trading activity and become sustainable. 

What can I use the repayable grant for? 
There are few restrictions on spend, but typically Boost It awardees use the award to cover higher than usual start-up costs (not including incorporation) or consolidating trading activities through staff wages or capital purchases. 

My enterprise is not incorporated yet. Am I eligible to apply? 
No. While other Firstport grants such as Start It and Build It fund the individual as opposed to the enterprise, Boost It is specifically designed to support enterprises. Therefore, the enterprise must be incorporated and have a business bank account. Priority will also be given to those enterprises with strong governance and financial management processes in place. 

My enterprise is/will be trading across the whole of the UK. Is this eligible? 
There are no geographical restrictions on trading. However, as Boost It is funded by the Scottish Government, the majority of the social impact must be delivered in Scotland. This means that a majority of people who benefit from the good work of the enterprise must live in Scotland. 

I have already set up as a sole trader/private company limited by shares. Am I eligible for funding? 
No. Setting up as a sole trader or private company limited by shares is more common in traditional commercial organisations as both of these models allow profits and assets to be paid out of the business to private individuals or bodies. A key feature of a social enterprise is that it does not allow this, and instead reinvests profits back into achieving its social aims. Even if it needs to close down, any remaining assets (after debts are paid) must be passed on to another social enterprise or charitable organisation – usually with similar aims. This feature is usually reflected in its choice of legal model. If it is important to you that your organisation can continue to distribute profits or assets, then your enterprise is unlikely to receive Boost It funding. 

My enterprise is a trading arm of an established charity/organisation. Am I eligible? 
No. At Boost It, we are committed to supporting independent enterprises that don’t have the backing of an existing parent organisation behind them. In cases where an idea has originated as a project of an existing organisation, we would expect to see evidence that it is fully independent and separate from that existing organisation. 

What is direct social impact? 
When a social enterprise provides services directly to its beneficiaries, we define this as direct social impact. When a social enterprise provides services to other organisations, who then go on to do the work with beneficiaries, this would be defined as indirect social impact. 

For example: an enterprise providing counselling services to a vulnerable group would be seen as direct social impact; an enterprise providing counselling training to a charity who then provides this counselling to their beneficiaries would be seen as indirect social impact. 

I currently have a Start It / Build It award. Can I apply for this too? 
Yes. You do not need to have received a previous award from us in order to apply for Boost It. 

I haven’t had either Start It or Build It. Am I eligible? 
Yes. You do not need to have received a previous award from us in order to apply for Boost It.  

I need the Build It grant as well as Boost It investment. Can I apply for both?
You can, but you would only be awarded either Build It or Boost It. Given the level of demand for Firstport funding, we cannot make two awards to the same applicant at the same time. Boost It investees are ineligible for Build It. If a Boost It applicant would benefit more from a Build It award, this will be discussed at the Expression of Interest Review.

I’m ready to go. Can I opt out of business support? 
Yes. You will receive the link to the online application form after your Expression of Interest meeting and can apply any time after that. It is however strongly recommended that that you engage with the offered business support, which is designed to help you submit a competitive application as well as guide your enterprise towards investment readiness. 

I have my own cashflow template. Can I submit that instead? 
No. Applications will be assessed on the basis of the same submitted documents. Unless there is a specific accessibility requirement for another template, we would strongly recommend using the template provided.  

Can I resubmit my application if I am unsuccessful? 
Yes. We try not to close the door on enterprises that show potential. If you are unsuccessful in your application at any stage, we will endeavour to provide detailed feedback that will help you in any further submission. Please note that any further submission should address the feedback provided. 

What is the interest rate on the repayable grant? 
The interest rate is 0%. This ensures that any awardee will only repay the amount awarded. 

When do repayments start? 
Repayments start one year after the award is made. 

How are repayments made? 
Repayments are flexible and can be made as a flat rate or a staggered repayment rising over the five years. Lump sum repayments will also be considered in addition to regular repayments. You will indicate which you prefer in your application as part of your projected cashflow. Repayments shown in the projected cashflow will form the basis of your agreed repayment schedule.

How often do you expect repayments? 
We expect successful applicants to set up a monthly standing order with their bank for the agreed repayment amount.

How long do repayments last? 
The Boost It award must be repaid within 2-5 years of the start of the repayment period. You will indicate how long this will take in your submitted cashflow projection. Applications that indicate a longer repayment period than the maximum of 5 years are unlikely to be successful. 

How do you manage the award? 
Your Relationship Manager will arrange a meeting when the award has been confirmed. They will go through the contract with you ahead of signature. You will then be able to draw down the full amount requested. 

After that, you will provide management accounts on a quarterly basis for discussion at quarterly review meetings. You will also need to log your spending and provide receipts/evidence of spend for any expenses of £500 or over. There will be an ongoing requirement to provide quarterly management accounts for review meetings with your Relationship Manager until the award has been repaid. 

What if I don’t spend the full amount in the first year? 
Any funds yet to be spent after the first year will be subject to immediate repayment.  

What if I leave the enterprise? 
The Boost It application form requests an alternative contact in the event that you decide to leave the enterprise. As the repayable grant agreement is with the enterprise, not the individual, it is expected that this alternative contact will be the main contact going forward.