New £16m Social Enterprise Support Fund targets 50% minority grantees

The Social Enterprise Support Fund will deliver a further £16.3m in grants to social enterprises across England, with inclusion, diversity and equity a “top priority”, the fund’s partners announced today. 

Applications open on 25 November, with around 500 organisations expected to benefit.

Financed by The National Lottery Community Fund, and delivered by Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Resonance, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and UnLtd, the fund was first launched in 2020 to tackle hardship created by the Covid-19 pandemic. Last year, funders delivered £18.7m of grants to over 600 social enterprises.

This fund will provide essential finance so social entrepreneurs can do what they do best: improving lives and transforming local communities

The 2021-22 round aims to help social enterprises recover, rebuild and grow following Covid, and also targets social enterprises supporting people at high health risk or facing increased social or economic struggles as a result of the pandemic.

Alastair Wilson, CEO of the School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: “This fund will provide essential finance to get social entrepreneurs back on their feet, so they can do what they do best: improving lives and transforming local communities.”

The fund will provide grants of between £10,000 and £100,000, and is available to social enterprises if most of their beneficiaries are in England, with an annual income between £20,000 and £1.8m. It is also available to anyone who applied last year, regardless of the outcome of their application.


Equity, diversity and inclusion: 'top priority'

In 2020, 32% of all grantees were applicants from a minority background, exceeding the fund’s goal of 30%. This year the funders want to increase this to 50%.

To achieve this, each panel assessing applications (made up of minimum three people) will include at least two people from a minority background. 

CEO of UnLtd, Mark Norbury, said he was “delighted” to provide crucial support as communities were again struggling and social enterprises “urgently” needed funding to support them.

The pandemic has exacerbated existing barriers and marginalisation in society. The right funding must be given to those addressing these harms

He added: “We know that the pandemic has had deeply unequal effects, exacerbating existing barriers and marginalisation in society. The right funding must be given to those addressing these harms.”

In 2020, UnLtd committed to ensuring 50% of all its early-stage grant funding goes to people from Black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds, and/or disabled entrepreneurs.

Big Issue Invest CEO, Daniel Sattar, said he was proud to be involved with the fund: “We get to back people doing the best work in the country, in our social enterprise and charity sectors, supporting people in the most difficult of circumstances.”

Applications for the Social Enterprise Support Fund close on 21 December. A second round opens in February 2022.


Reach Fund extended; Recovery Loan Fund announced

In the past weeks, two other funding sources have been confirmed for UK social enterprises:

  • The Access Foundation and Social Investment Business announced that the Reach Fund, which provides grants to help England-based charities and social enterprises take on social investment, will continue for a further four years. Access plans to make at least £10m available to support 1,000 organisations to develop social investment proposals. 
  • Social Investment Business also launched a new loan fund, with founding investor Fusion21 Foundation, to support UK charities and social enterprises in the post-Covid recovery. The Recovery Loan Fund is looking to raise at least £25m and offers loans of £100,000 to £1.5m.


Header image: Aspiring Futures CIC, one of the 2020 grantees of the Social Enterprise Support Fund.


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