Social Enterprise Support Fund reopens with £16.3m boost for West Midlands enterprises

28th Feb

Social enterprises from across the West Midlands are being urged to tap into £16.3m of funding that will help their communities recover from the impact of Covid-19.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund (SESF) reopens for applications at 1pm today – Monday, February 28, with organisations able to apply for grants of between £10,000 and £100,000 to help them deliver essential services or increase trading in the communities they serve.

Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the initiative’s first round in December received 800 applications and a request for funding of more than £37m.

Five social enterprise support agencies – Big Issue Invest, Key Fund, Resonance, the School for Social Entrepreneurs and UnLtd – have come together again to deliver the fund with the target of assisting about 500 enterprises. The fund is due to close for applications on March 24.

“The volume of applications for the first round demonstrates not only the huge need for this financial support as community and social enterprises move to recovery mode, but also the depth and breadth of the impact that these organisations continue to provide to some of the most marginalised groups and communities in our society,” said Matt Smith, CEO of Key Fund.

“We’re proud to be part of the team delivering this funding at such challenging times for our sector, with support from the National Lottery Community Fund, and we look forward to receiving new applications in Round 2.”

The Covid-19 crisis continues to disproportionately hurt communities that already experience social and economic inequalities.

The Social Enterprise Support Fund, which is available to social enterprises if most of their beneficiaries are in England and boast an annual income of between been £20,000 and £1.8m in either of the past two financial years, will assist social entrepreneurs to put their solutions into practice to help people most impacted by the crisis.

An emphasis will be on supporting organisations that will create economic growth while helping people in need or improving the environment.

The fund is committed to inclusion, working to ensure that at least 50% of grants reach groups that are led by: people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities; LGBTQ+ communities; disabled people; and/or leaders with lived experience of the issues their social enterprise is addressing.

One enterprise that was successful with its application was Birmingham-based Aidem Digital CIC, which specialises in developing and deploying digital media projects that have some form of social impact.

Indi Deol, founder, said: “This grant funding will help us create a new income stream and, at the same time, support our social mission to enhance access to and engagement with the arts and journalism for disenfranchised minority communities.

“Additionally, as most galleries, theatres and arts spaces are situated in city centres, Covid-related restrictions and the disproportionate health impact upon black and Asian people have exacerbated the already low Asian engagement with mainstream arts.

“The DESIblitz Truck Art Bus will take arts directly into Asian communities, playing a valuable role in addressing inequality of access while providing Aidem Digital CIC and other arts providers with a platform upon which to build participation.”

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