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FAQ's

Boost It

Frequently Asked Questions BoostIt

Q: Why are you not using a traditional grant for Boost It?

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

  • £5K is sometimes not enough to get a social enterprise idea off the ground. This is particularly true for ideas operating in certain types of sectors due to higher capital or technological costs.
  • There is often a funding gap after our Build It Awards – social entrepreneurs have realised their ideas have potential and have decided to turn them into their full-time jobs, but they are still far from achieving sustained trading. In addition, many times social entrepreneurs do not feel ready, or confident enough, to access social investment.
  • The Social Entrepreneurs Fund is already a highly competitive programme, so we need to find innovative ways to make the funds go further.
  • Our experience is mirrored by the findings of the Social Enterprise Census 2019 where we still see a hesitant attitude towards social investment and earned income from trading remains at modest levels.

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

Q: Is it for me?

Boost It is 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 get started. You must have a legal structure already in place and a business bank account.

OR

  • Have been trading for up to three years but need further support to increase your trading activity and become sustainable. You must have a strong business model and have identified (or already undertaking) income generating activities.

What can I use the funding for?

The funding can be put towards:

  • Covering costs that allow you to kick-start your business if you need a high injection of cash. For example: purchasing equipment or digital infrastructure.

OR

Consolidate your trading activities if you are already up and running. For example: Buying stock of your product or staff wages.

Boost It is designed to stimulate trading and social impact and cannot be used for essential start-up costs such as incorporation or pilot activity.

Eligibility

Q: My enterprise is not incorporated yet. Am I eligible to apply?

No. While other Firstport funds 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: I currently have a Start It / Build It award. Can I apply for this too?

Yes, as long as you have already received your second instalment and are in the process of spending it, or have already spent it, you are able to apply for Boost It. You should contact your Relationship Manager if you are planning on applying for Boost It.

You do not need to have received a previous award from us to apply to Boost it, however, we anticipate that some previous Start it and Build it awardees will go on to apply to Boost it.

Q: I am currently a participant in LaunchMe. Can I apply?

No. Boost It is designed to support social enterprises to increase their levels of trading rather than to scale. If you are already in the process of scaling, your funding needs are likely to be greater than the amount awarded through this fund.

Application

Q: What can I use the funding for?

Funding of £30-50k can be used toward covering costs that allow you to kick-start or consolidate your trading activities.  Examples may include buying stock and equipment or hiring new staff. 

Boost It is designed to stimulate trading and social impact and cannot be used for essential start-up costs such as incorporation or pilot activity.

Q: I’m ready to go. Can I opt out of business support?

No. This support is designed to help you submit a competitive application, as well as guide your enterprise towards investment readiness. Boost It is a highly competitive fund and we will give priority to those who engage with the offered support.

Q: 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

Q: 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.

Award Management

Q: Why a blended finance model?

After over a decade of delivering the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, we know that £5,000 sometimes isn’t enough to get a social enterprise off the ground, especially if it operates in certain sectors that rely heavily on initial capital investment. We have also identified an occasional funding gap after our Build It programme – social entrepreneurs may have realised the potential of their idea and made the leap into full-time employment, but they are still far from achieving sustained trading and have a hesitant attitude towards social investment.

The Social Enterprise Census 2019 results reflect this, showing that many social enterprises are wary of taking on social investment, therefore limiting their potential earned income. We believe Boost It’s blended finance model is a perfect introduction to social investment, that not only prepares social entrepreneurs for more significant loan investment in the future, but also allows us to make our funds go further by using repayments to support other new social enterprises.

Q: When do repayments start?

Repayments start one year after the award is made.

Q:  How are repayments made?

Repayments can be made as either a flat repayment or as a percentage of surplus on a quarterly basis, either of which will be outlined in your application as part of your projected cashflow and should point to full repayment within 2-5 years of the draw down.

If you propose to make a flat rate repayment, we expect you to set up a standing order with your bank. We may also accept ad hoc lump repayments.

If you would rather make a repayment based on a percentage of surplus, the repayment amount will be agreed on a quarterly basis following submission of your quarterly management accounts. If there is no surplus for that quarter, no repayment will be required.

Q: 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. After the first year, we would expect the full Boost It award to be spent and evidenced, and a repayment schedule agreed. There will be an ongoing requirement to provide quarterly management accounts for review meetings with your Relationship Manager until the award has been repaid.

Q: 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. 

Q: 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.

If you have questions that are not answered in the FAQs, please get in touch with us at info@firstport.org.uk or by phone on 0131 564 0331.