£500k scheme seeks to re-ignite love for trading among UK social businesses
One hundred UK organisations are to get grant money, match funding and training as part of a new programme designed to help them revive trading following Covid-19.
The Trade Back scheme offers each business up to £7,000, in the form of an upfront grant to kick-start recovery, plus a further grant that matches any increase in income from trading above Covid-period levels.
The £520,000 grant pot is part of the School for Social Entrepreneurs’ largest UK programme, the Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland Social Entrepreneurs Programme, which is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund and the Scottish Government.
Covid-19 has shown how even the strongest social impact organisations can become vulnerable to the unexpected - Alastair Wilson
SSE is currently shortlisting applicants, with the programme launching in October. These initially applied for SSE’s existing Match Trading programme, which has helped some 500 organisations to date and which has seen participants increase income from trading two and a half times as fast as those supported by a traditional grant.
When the coronavirus hit the UK, SSE adjusted the programme, offering flexibility on income thresholds: Trade Back is considering organisations that have dropped to zero traded income during the Covid-19 period. Training modules have also been adapted to take account of current restrictions and pressures on cash flow.
The announcement comes amid concerns that many organisations depending on traded income have seen their cash flow suffer more sharply during Covid-19, while those dependent on grants have often been more protected.
However, the long-term effect of the pandemic on grantmaking remains unclear, and experts have also pointed out that some charities reliant on grants and donations have been hit hard, while different business models – and those operating in different regions – have been affected to varying degrees.
Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, said his organisation “continues to believe in the power of trading to support and grow a sustainable social enterprise sector”, but that Covid-19 had shown how “even the strongest social impact organisations can become vulnerable to the unexpected”.
Trade Back grants could be a turning point in getting social impact organisations through this crisis and future proofing their businesses at the same time - Carol Mack
He added: “We’re excited to launch Trade Back which will help social enterprise to rebuild and re-acquire customers lost during the crisis. With an uncertain economic future, social enterprises and trade-dependent social organisations must be supported to get back on track with trading to succeed in the longer term.”
Carol Mack, CEO of the Association of Charitable Foundations and chair of the task force that developed Match Trading and that is now championing Trade Back, said: “Our aim is to help support stronger and more viable voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations, capable of achieving truly sustained impact. With our learnings from Match Trading, Trade Back grants could be a turning point in getting social impact organisations through this crisis and future proofing their businesses at the same time.”
SSE has worked with a number of partners, including the Rank Foundation and Power to Change, on match trading schemes. It is hoping to encourage more funders to team up on its Trade Back scheme.
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