Step Up

Frequently Asked Questions about Step Up

Why a 0% interest loan? 

After over a decade of delivering the Social Entrepreneurs Fund, we know that our initial grant awards sometimes aren’t enough to get a social enterprise off the ground. Social entrepreneurs may have realised the potential of their idea and made the leap into full-time employment. However, they are still far from achieving sustained trading and can feel hesitant about taking on repayable investment.

We believe Step Up’s model is a perfect introduction to social investment. It helps social entrepreneurs understand how to secure investment and prepares them to take on further growth investment in the future. It also allows us to make our funds go further by using repayments to support other new social enterprises.

Why must I draw up extensive financial forecasts for such a small loan?
You need to be confident of your ability to make repayments before taking on repayable finance, so the process of drawing up long-range forecasts is as much for you as for us. We do not expect all the numbers in your projections to be exactly accurate, particularly as you look further into the future. We are looking to understand what drives income and expenditure. As you forecast into future years, consider new factors that may come to bear on your financial model. What impact will inflation have? Will you need to take on additional staff?

I need help on the application form or building my cash flow. Can you help me? 
Our Investment Readiness team is here to help! You can apply for bespoke 1-1 support or participate in a programme of workshops with other social enterprises exploring social investment. Check out LaunchMe

I currently have a Start It award. Can I apply? 
You must have closed off your Start It award before applying for Step Up. Please contact your Relationship Manager to discuss what this means for you. 

I currently have a Build It award. Can I apply? 
You must have closed off your Build It award before applying for Step Up. Please contact your Relationship Manager to discuss what this means for you. 

I am currently a participant in LaunchMe. Can I apply? 
Yes. Please discuss your plans with the LaunchMe team before applying. 

I have previously received a Boost It/ Pivot Fund award. Can I apply to Step Up? 
Step Up is awarded from the same fund as Boost It/ Pivot Fund and therefore enterprises that have already received the lifetime limit of £50,000 as a Boost It/ Pivot Fund award are ineligible for Step Up.

If your enterprise has received less than £50,000 as a Boost It/ Pivot Fund award, it will be eligible to apply for the difference between the value of the Boost It/ Pivot Fund award and £50,000. For example, if your enterprise received a Boost It award of £35,000, you may apply for up to £15,000 from Step Up.

I have previously received a Step Up loan. Can I apply again? 
You can apply to Step Up again if you have repaid your loan in full. You may apply to scale the successful growth strategy you have already funded further through Step Up or another, different strategy. It can be a good idea to start with a smaller loan, gain confidence in your growth strategy and ability to repay and then apply for a more significant amount.

If you want to apply multiple times, consider earlier repayment timescales when you apply so that you can repay and reapply without delay. There is a lifetime limit of £50,000 in total for Step Up awards to any single social enterprise.

I currently have a Catalyst Fund loan. Can I apply? 
We cannot provide two loans simultaneously, so you must have already fully repaid your Catalyst Fund loan before applying for Step Up. Equally, you must also have fully repaid any Step Up loans to be eligible for Catalyst Fund. 

My organisation has directors/trustees that are both employed by the enterprise and related to one another. Is it eligible for Step Up? 
Your board must have a majority of directors/ trustees who are independent of one another AND are not employed by the enterprise. Therefore, you must have (or recruit) additional independent directors/trustees to ensure that a majority are independent of each other, and a majority are not employed by the enterprise. 

I am unable to complete the application form in the format given. What should I do?
If you need to make an application in a different format, please call 0131 564 0331 or email lauren[@]firstport.org.uk.