What is the Social Enterprise Boost Fund?
The Social Enterprise Boost Fund is a new programme funded by the UK Government. It aims to kick start and accelerate social enterprise activity in local areas and demonstrate social enterprises’ impact on their communities.
As part of the programme, social enterprises get access to free one-to-one support and coaching, group workshops and digital resources, as well as seed funding starting at £1000 to try out and grow social enterprise ideas.
We are working with PNE to deliver the Social Enterprise Boost Fund in South Tyneside and Sunderland.
What funding is available?
The Social Enterprise Boost Fund grants help new social entrepreneurs in Sunderland and South Tyneside start and grow their businesses. There are three levels of funding available, depending on the stage and needs of the social entrepreneur/enterprise.
Kickstart – These grants of up to £5,000 will help you cover the costs of setting up a social enterprise. If you have already set up your business, Kickstart grants can help you with development costs such as training and equipment.
Grow – If you make good progress and successfully complete a Kick Start grant, you can go on to apply for a Grow grant of up to £5000 to take your idea further. You must demonstrate how the additional funding would allow you to develop or consolidate your idea.
Try – We will also provide some smaller grants of up to £1,000 to support very early stage applicants who are not quite ready for Kickstart, but could benefit from help to pilot an idea and explore its potential. We hope that some successful Try recipients will then move on to apply for further funding through the other programme levels, with support from us.
The grants are designed to help social entrepreneurs progress as their ideas develop. The maximum amount an applicant can secure is £10,000. In most cases, this is likely to consist of a £5000 Kickstart grant, followed by a £5,000 Grow grant. However, in the event that an applicant receives a £1,000 Try grant, and then a £5,000 Kickstart grant, the maximum Grow grant they can apply for is £4000.
Who can apply?
The fund is open to early-stage social enterprises and individuals seeking to set up a new social enterprise in Sunderland and South Tynecastle.
To be eligible, your existing social enterprise:
- Has been trading for five years or less
- Has a turnover of less than £250,000 in their last financial year
- Is incorporated and registered on Companies House with a UK-registered office
- Has a governing document which demonstrates that they are a social enterprise under the following government definition: a business with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or the community rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners
- Has a bank account with at least two signatories in the enterprise’s name.
If applying as an individual, you are eligible if you:
- Seek to set up a new social enterprise (fitting the above government definition).
- Are aged 18 or over;
- Are based in the UK; and
- have a bank account in your name
For all levels of funding, your application must meet the following criteria:
- Meets local needs and improves pride in place and/or social connections in the local area – by ‘local’, we mean that your application delivers most of its social or environmental benefit within one or both Sunderland and South Tynecastle.
- Demonstrates robust delivery plans and an understanding of project finances
- Demonstrates value for money
- Provides evidence of how you will learn from your proposed activities and demonstrate how your project will generate income to keep going once you have spent the grant money
In addition – if your project requires premises to start trading, you must have identified a property and be able to confirm an agreement in principle.
Additional criteria apply if you have already received a grant from the SE Boost Fund and would like to access the next available level. Read our Guidance Notes for further information about this.
What costs do the grants cover?
You can use a Boost Fund grant for costs associated with starting your enterprise. While individual applications vary, typical costs include:
- Staff salaries for new or existing members of your team.
- Set up costs, such as legal fees, website and branding costs, insurance.
- Project running costs, bills and overheads – this could include: rent for premises or office space, venue hire, utilities.
- Accountancy costs.
- Equipment. While we fund equipment for social enterprises, this will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and should not be the only item you request funding for. Some of the costs we will consider include IT equipment and software, catering appliances, sports equipment, tools and safety gear.
- Improvements to the project’s physical environment linked to enhancing service delivery – including minor renovations, redecoration, furnishings, gardening/landscaping, and installation of accessibility measures.
- Organisational development – For example, training, recruitment of new staff or board members.
What happens after I apply?
You will receive an email confirming that we have received your application. We will contact you within 2-4 weeks to arrange an assessment if your idea is eligible. The assessment will take place over the phone or via an online video conference tool.
Assessments allow us to ask specific questions about your application and better understand your vision. They also help us make the process fairer for everyone. We want to support people with the skills, passion, and drive to make real change in their communities but need help to express their ideas in writing for any reason.
After an assessment, your application will go to our funding panel for a decision. We aim to get back to you within 12 weeks of the date you applied, though this may be longer during busy periods. If this is the case, we’ll let you know.
If your application is unsuccessful, we will email you with panel feedback.
How do you assess my application?
Providing your application is eligible; we will score it against the fund’s criteria above.
After the assessment, we give applications a HIGH/MEDIUM/LOW score across all criteria. We put forward the most robust applications to be considered for a grant by a funding panel, which makes the final funding decisions.
One-to-one support and coaching
The Social Enterprise Boost Fund also offers free business support provided by our partner PNE. We strongly recommend that you access and make the most of the support before applying for funding. In our experience, applicants who engage with business support significantly improve their chances of success.
You can apply for one-to-one support or learn about their upcoming events by visiting the PNE website.
Ready to apply?
If you are eligible and would like to apply for a grant, please read our Guidance Notes in full before starting an application.
The funding is now open and will operate on a rolling basis until 27 September 2024. This means that you can apply at any time during this period.
Word versions of both application forms can be downloaded from the list below. Please use the Word document to help you prepare and draft your answers before completing the online application form. If you have any accessibility requirements, you may also submit the Word application form as your main application. Please be mindful that some questions have character limits.
If you have a question we have not covered in the guidance notes, please get in touch with us via our Contact Us page.