• Applications open for the Community Business Trade Up Programme to help rebuild communities
  • £0.5million worth of new Trade Back grants available
  • Community businesses on program report a 64% typical increase in income from trading

From today, 9000+ community business leaders in England can apply for an entrepreneurial learning programme and a grant of up to £10,000 to help pandemic proof their businesses.

In its fifth and final year, Community Business Trade Up has been transformative for nearly 300 community businesses since 2017.  The programme supports community businesses in their early stages to grow their impact and resilience.  It aims to help them to diversify and increase income from trading, be less grant dependent and become sustainable.

Typically, community businesses on the programme increase their income from trading by 64%, or over £22,000, year on year.  In total, programme participants have generated an additional £13million of income from trading, employed 500 people, supported 1,400 volunteers and reached 400,000 beneficiaries.

Community Business Trade Up participants get a fully-funded nine-month learning programme (12 learning days), a Trade Back grant up to £10,000, and the support of a peer network of other community business leaders.

The Community Business Trade Up Programme is run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE), in partnership with Power to Change. Applications close on Wednesday, 2nd December 2020.

Due to the impact of the pandemic, Power to Change and SSE have adapted the programme in three ways:

  • Applications from those hit hardest by Covid-19 will be prioritised.  In particular, community businesses that are led by black, Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME), support BAME communities and/or located in and giving support to very deprived or disadvantaged local communities.  This year, Ubele Initiative will be working with Power to Change and SSE to ensure funding reaches the widest range of people and communities.  
  • Programme participants each receive a Trade Back grant up to £10,000.  Created by the SSE in response to the pandemic, Trade Back is a new type of grant that incentivises social organisations to trade, while supporting them to recover and rebuild.  Trade Back grants match ‘pound-for-pound’ any increase in income from trading above Covid period levels. 
  • Programme content will be co-designed with community business leaders to ensure it is relevant to the needs of community businesses through and beyond the new pandemic economy, with a focus on digitisation. 

Community businesses work in all sorts of sectors and come in a multitude of different business forms.  From cafes, swimming pools, pubs, breweries, bakeries, hubs, launderettes and even woodlands.   Examples of community businesses supported by this programme include One Voice Blackburn, Shareshed, Monkey Park CIC, Bristol Bike Project, the Bevy community pub, London Bike Kitchen and Terverbyn Community Hall.

Zaffer Khan, CEO of One Voice Blackburn took part in the 2020 programme.  He says:

“The real-life examples of individuals who’ve improved their trading activity and impact makes it a really practical, tangible learning experience.

“It’s not about being given the answers, it’s about having the space and time to reflect and bounce ideas off others going through a similar situation”

The learning programme will help leaders of community businesses to develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to increase their impact, with a focus on increasing their sales and income from trading. It will run from April to December 2021, with 50 places for community business leaders across England who will learn in groups of 10.

The programme is delivered by the School for Social Entrepreneurs online and in-person – at five locations, subject to government social distancing guidelines.  

Alastair Wilson, CEO of School for Social Entrepreneurs, said:

“Community businesses strengthen local economies and enrich the fabric of society. But running them can be challenging, especially during the pandemic. While many saw their income drop off a cliff, others have seen a surge in demand for their services. Their future is still uncertain. 

“We’re thrilled that community businesses also get the added support of our new Trade Back grants.  We’re also excited to be working alongside Ubele Initiative as part of SSE’s commitment to diversity and inclusion.”

Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change said:

“The Covid-19 pandemic has shown just how agile community businesses can be, many adapting quickly to meet the needs of their local community. But the social and economic outlook remains challenging and in order to survive in a constantly shifting ‘new normal’, community businesses will need to build resilience. The Community Business Trade Up programme will give them the tools and support they need.”

Community businesses from across England can find out more and apply now until 2 December 2020, at: https://www.the-sse.org/community-business


Press contacts

  • SSE: Hannah Corbett, communications manager – 0207 089 9120 / Hannah.corbett@sse.org.uk 
  • Power to Change: Natasha Ley, Media Manager – 07725 565890 / Natasha.Ley@powertovhange.org.uk

Notes to editors

About community businesses
A community business is run by and for a local community. Its profits are reinvested for the benefit of that community.

About the Community Business Trade Up Programme
The Community Business Trade Up Programme is a learning programme accompanied by a Trade Back grant of up to £10,000 for community businesses that are planning to grow. The programme is run by the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) in partnership with Power to Change. The programme includes 12 learning days, spread over nine months. The programme will support 50 community business leaders in total in this phase.  Learning takes place online and in-person at delivered by five SSE regional teams (North West, North East, Midlands, London and South West), subject to government social distancing guidelines. 

Nearly 300 community businesses have taken part in the programme so far and previous participants have typically increased their income from trading by 64%.

Applications are open until 2nd December 2020.
More info: https://www.the-sse.org/courses/community-business/

About the School for Social Entrepreneurs
We can’t fix issues like poverty, climate change and ill-health alone. That’s why the School for Social Entrepreneurs exists. SSE helps 1,000 people a year develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems. It runs courses that equip people to start, scale and strengthen organisations that make a positive difference. But it is not a traditional school. Learning with SSE is inspiring, action-based and accessible. SSE supports people in others ways too, such as funding and mentoring. Lord Michael Young founded SSE in 1997, and it’s grown to a network of schools across the UK, Canada and India. Together, SSE is changing lives and transforming communities. www.the-sse.org

About Power to Change
Power to Change is the independent trust that supports community businesses in England.

Community businesses are locally rooted, community-led, trading for community benefit and making life better for local people. There are nearly 7,000 community businesses across England employing 35,500 people, with a combined income of £1.2bn.

From pubs to libraries; shops to bakeries; swimming pools to solar farms; community businesses are creating great products and services, providing employment and training and transforming lives.

www.powertochange.org.uk @peoplesbiz

About Trade Back
In response to the economic crisis, the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) has created Trade Back: a new type of grant that incentivises social organisations to trade, while supporting them to recover and rebuild.  Trade Back grants match ‘pound-for-pound’ any increase in income from trading above Covid period levels. Trade Back grants match ‘pound-for-pound’ any increase in income from trading above Covid period levels. 

Trade Back draws on the learning from Match Trading® grants, which launched in 2017 and have supported 500+ social organisations, increasing their income on average by 2.5 times compared to those receiving traditional grants.   Unlike a Match Trading grant, Trade Back takes into account the economic impact of the Covid-19 crisis on income from trading amounts.

SSE and a Task Force of 20+ social sector funders and support organisations are behind Trade Back.   Funders interested in Trade Back for the benefit of their grantees can contact tradeback@sse.org.uk.

About The Ubele Initiative

The Ubele Initiative is an African Diaspora led intergenerational social enterprise founded in 2014, with the purpose of helping to build more sustainable communities across the UK. Ubele supports a wide range of communities, community-based organisations and groups with their community assets (people and physical spaces), through social action, community enterprise development and next generation leadership initiatives. We design and deliver local, regional, national projects and international programmes as well as being involved in London regional policy initiatives and campaigns.

www.ubele.org @ubeleinitiative