Programme launched to help social enterprises

Wednesday September 13th, 2017

A £1 million programme to help social enterprises has been launched in the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (HotSW LEP) area (September 12th).EU

Devon County Council, which is leading on the “Enhance Social Enterprise” project, has received over £1,050,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in order to increase the number of social enterprise start-ups and to support the growth of existing ones.

Existing social enterprises will be supported to develop and launch new products and services as well as entering new markets. There will also be support for voluntary and community sector groups that want to transition into trading social enterprises, as well as budding social entrepreneurs in need of help to develop their ideas to start trading.

The programme involves a minimum of 12 hours of tailored business support. After identifying challenges and potential barriers to growth which may face the enterprise, a bespoke plan will be provided to support the entrepreneur or organisation in developing business strategies to address them.

As part of the scheme, the School for Social Entrepreneurs Dartington will offer learning programmes, with the aim of creating a group of social entrepreneurs that have the opportunity to apply for grants of up to £3,000. Digital business support is being delivered by Cosmic on specific themes including leadership and Intellectual Property. RIO (Real Ideas Organisation) will provide general business support and will lead on social impact frameworks with Plymouth-based Iridescent Ideas. Devon Community Foundation and Somerset Community Foundation will work with social enterprises to develop financial sustainability action plans with an aspiration to get each enterprise to the point of accessing investment.

Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise and Skills, said:

“The Heart of the South West area is a hotspot for social enterprise start ups, with 37% of social enterprises less than three years old. However, there are gaps in provision in North Devon, Torridge and Somerset where the social enterprise sector is less well developed and the availability of support is more fragmented. This programme will aim to increase capacity across the whole of the LEP area to transform the lives of some of the most deprived people in our area.”

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