Support for social enterprises
How do I set up or develop a social enterprise in Sandwell?
We’ve rounded up resources, local and national, to help Sandwell social entrepreneurs deliver maximum value for the causes they care about. See also our support for start-ups and growing your business pages, as the information there may also be useful to you.
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Learn more about social enterprises
Put simply, a social enterprise is a business with social values. A social enterprise exists in order to tackle social problems, boost communities, or improve the environment.
Social enterprises trade goods and services in the open market, just as economic profit-driven businesses do. However, profits are reinvested to further the social aims of the enterprise. So as well as applying commercial strategies to maximise business success, social enterprises are committed to maximising the social impact of their activities. When they profit, society also profits.
Social enterprises can be community enterprises, credit unions, trading arms of charities, employee-owned businesses, co-operatives, development trusts, housing associations, social firms, leisure trusts, or something else. The UK government has produced a useful guide to legal structures for social enterprises, outlining what it means to be a limited company, charity, charitable incorporated organisation (CIO), co-operative, community interest company (CIC), sole trader or business partnership.
Learn about social enterprise in the Black Country
In November 2021, the Black Country LEP set up a Social Enterprise Taskforce to update its vision for social enterprise in our region. It launched the Black Country ‘Economy of Together’ Action Plan working to 2030, outlining plans to support “a local economy in which sustainable, healthy and inclusive communities are supported and barriers to employment are removed”.
Find current funding opportunities
Big Society Capital has launched Ideas for Impact, through which a selection of ideas with the greatest potential to transform people’s lives in the UK could each receive up to £30,000 of development funding plus in-kind support and connections.
Good Finance helps charities and social enterprises to navigate the world of social investment.
Every three months the Matthew Good Foundation is awarding £10,000 between five shortlisted projects that have a positive impact on communities, people or the environment in its Grants for Good Fund.
The National Lottery Community Fund distributes over £600m a year to communities across the UK, paid for National Lottery players.
Find West Midlands support for social enterprises
SCVO (Sandwell Council of Voluntary Organisations) supports and represents voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations in Sandwell.
Sweda (Sandwell Work and Enterprise Development Agency) gives support, guidance, training and mentoring to people looking to get back into the workplace, including support for potential social entrepreneurs.
Birmingham Community Matters is a peer-to-peer learning network which brings people who are setting up or running community organisations (in Birmingham and surrounding areas) together with people who have experience of doing the same thing.
iSE CIC is a social enterprise development organisation providing opportunities for the social and community sector in Birmingham and beyond.
Digbeth Social Enterprise Quarter is nearby! Digbeth in Birmingham has one of the largest concentrations of social enterprises in the country and the DSEQ runs regular networking events and collaborative projects.
Find national support for social enterprises
Co-operatives UK offers lots of support for people setting up co-operative organisations, including mentoring and free business banking from the Co-operative Bank.
Inspire2Enterprise supports individuals and established businesses to create and develop social enterprises across the UK.
Unltd is a UK charitable organisation working to promote social entrepreneurship within local communities. UnLtd offers cash awards, networking and mentorship opportunities to support new social enterprises to grow.
The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) helps people “develop the skills, strengths and networks they need to tackle society’s biggest problems”. SSE’s email newsletter – ‘Have I Got Social Enterprise News For You’ – is a good read, and packed with useful links.
Social Enterprise UK is the national membership body for social enterprise. Among other activities it lobbies on the sector’s behalf, conducts research to help paint a picture of the UK’s social enterprise movement and works with corporate partners to broker business for social enterprise members.
If you know of any upcoming events relating to social enterprise, get in touch so that we can share the information.
Consider buying from a social enterprise
If your organisation is keen to engage with social enterprises when buying products and services, try the Buy Social Directory to search for businesses that trade for social and environmental purposes.
This page was last reviewed in March 2022.