A pioneering government-backed scheme providing support to social enterprises will launch for the first time in Croydon this year, it was announced today.
Social entrepreneurs will have the chance to get their businesses off the ground with the help of the scheme, which will provide funding and support from businesses in their local communities. The scheme, Social Enterprise Assist (SE-Assist) led by the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF), will work with established businesses in Croydon to support a number of local social enterprises.
SE-Assist will now open for applications from social entrepreneurs in Croydon this March after gaining support from Croydon Council. There is £150,000 available to invest in a range of social enterprises in Croydon to support their development. SE-Assist will also re-launch in Sussex where the programme was piloted last year. The aim is to roll the scheme out to more cities and regions across the UK so more social enterprises may benefit.
Social enterprises that benefited from the scheme in Sussex last year included an ethical supermarket, a creative writing group, a parent support group and an IT consultancy charity. The support helped ethical supermarket hiSbe Food CIC get to the position where it could finally open its doors in Brighton last month after receiving a loan and expert consultancy.
The scheme currently has £330,000 in funding. £100,000 has been contributed by Legal & General, which is in addition to the £30,000 they have already invested, and £200,000 by the Coast to Capital (C2C) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).
The programme has the potential to deliver millions of pounds of investment to a wide range of start-up business who may currently be struggling to raise funding or lack the expertise or experience to get off the ground. So CAF and Legal & General are calling for other businesses to join the scheme and make capital and/ or their expertise and time available to help grow businesses in their local communities.
The social entrepreneurs will be offered a unique package comprising of an interest free loan of up to £10,000, mentoring and access to an investors networks to receive expert consultancy.