Start It

Up to £5,000 for individuals looking to start a social enterprise.

Who's it for?

Individuals who have a business idea that addresses a social, environmental and/or community issue.

What do I get?

Up to £5,000 towards start-up costs.

Where do I apply?

You can apply to this fund here:

Apply now

What is the funding for? 

A Start It award is designed to help new social entrepreneurs pay for start-up costs. These costs can vary, but typical examples include: 

  • Legal fees for incorporation and/or registration as a charity or Community Interest Company 
  • Rent (if premises have been identified) 
  • Website, branding, logo design and marketing materials 
  • Insurance and accountancy services 
  • Equipment 

For more information on eligible and ineligible costs, please see the guidance

Who can apply? 

Individuals who meet the eligibility criteria set out below, and who have an idea for a social enterprise but need some funding to get it up and running. 


Applications must meet the following eligibility criteria: 

  • The applicant is aged 16 or over. 
  • The applicant is a permanent resident of Scotland. 
  • The enterprise operates primarily for the benefit of people or communities within Scotland. 
  • The enterprise and its activities do not involve political campaigning or the advancement of religion. 
  • The enterprise is an independent organisation and not the project or subsidiary of an existing body. 
  • The enterprise aims to provide direct social impact to individuals, communities and/or the environment. 
  • The enterprise is in the early stages of development – i.e. the ‘idea’ or ‘start-up’ phase – and has not begun trading on a regular basis. 
  • The idea does not form part of the applicant’s current employment. 
  • If the enterprise requires premises to start trading, the applicant must have identified a property and be able to confirm an agreement in principle. 

Where do I apply?

You can apply to this fund here: Apply Now

How we assess your application 

Once we receive your application, one of the Awards Team will contact you within 2-4 weeks to undertake an assessment. This is an informal meeting via phone or Zoom which will allow you the opportunity to tell us more about your idea, your motivation, and your plans. 

After the assessment, your idea goes to an independent decision-making panel. You should receive a decision within 12-14 weeks of application. 

Funding priorities

Anyone who meets the eligibility criteria can benefit from a Start It award and we assess each application on its individual merits. Due to levels of demand, we can only support people who have not been previously awarded.

Start-up support

You can get free business advice for your social enterprise idea by accessing our start-up support through Just Enterprise. You can get advice before applying for one of our funding programmes, or at any stage after you have made an application. We find that applicants who work with our advisors through start-up support submit stronger applications, giving them a better chance of securing an award.

Find out more about the start-up support we offer

Have a question? 

If your question isn’t covered by the guidance or our FAQs, please get in touch via our Contact Us page.


  • Start It Guidance Word Document

    This document guides you through each section of the application form and what happens once we receive your application.

  • Start It Guidance PDF

  • Start It Application (Draft Only)

    You can use this Word document to prepare and draft your answers before completing the online application form. If you have any accessibility requirements, you may also submit this form as your main application.


Previous winners of Start It funding