Funding through the Social Enterprise Support Fund: all your questions answered

2nd December 2021 by Ellie Thompson

The Social Enterprise Support Fund offers a transformative opportunity for social enterprises to refresh, rebuild and regrow after the impact of COVID-19. 

Diversity and Ability are pleased to be one of the SESF Development Partners, providing guidance and resources to enable organisations to make the most of this opportunity. If you, like us, are a social enterprise led by a diverse team with lived experience of disablement and/or marginalisation, then we’re here to support you!

But what is the fund? How can you access it? And is this opportunity for you? We’re here to answer all your questions.

What is the Social Enterprise Support Fund?

The Social Enterprise Support Fund (SESF) is a 2-year project, delivered by Big Issue Invest, Key Fund, Resonance, the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd, in partnership with The National Lottery Community Fund.

Thanks to National Lottery players, the National Lottery Community Fund has committed £18million to the partnership, which will provide financial support to over 500 social enterprises to aid in their recovery from COVID-19. So if you’re a social enterprise that supports people who experience marginalisation, and you’ve been impacted by COVID-19, SESF could be for you.

How much funding can I apply for?

You can apply for grants from £10,000 to £100,000. Most grants awarded will be between £10,000 and £50,000, but focus on how much money you would need to achieve the goal you mention in your application.

What could I use the funding for?

SESF have more guidance about what the funding can be used for on their website. As a general rule, if you could benefit from funding to help get your social enterprise back on track, or to support communities and individuals who have been particularly affected by COVID-19, it’s worth considering applying.

You may find it helpful to take a look at examples of social enterprises that previously received the grant, to see why they applied and what they used the funding for.

How is D&A involved?

SESF are working with six development partners, all of whom are providing enabling support to social enterprises led by entrepreneurs who are disabled, LGBTQ+, and/or are from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

As one of the development partners, we’re here to offer our lived experience as a social enterprise led by a diverse group of disabled and neurodiverse people, as well as our expertise in the skills and resources that can break down barriers.

If you’re eligible, we can support your application in many different ways, including:

  • Ensuring you are able to access and understand the application material to a good standard
  • Enabling you with application-related skills including note-taking, planning, reading and writing, organisation, proof-reading and time management skills
  • Providing proof-reading support
  • Assistive technology training (for existing technology or open-source and free assistive technology software)
  • Identifying and creating effective working strategies that take into account your individual working style, application requirements and specific needs
  • Supporting you with motivation and morale, and enabling you to increase your self-motivation
  • Creating positive plans and objectives for upcoming applications

I’m a charity, can I apply?

Charities can apply if they have a trading subsidiary. If you’re established as a charity, but have a business model that depends on trading, you may be eligible- so it’s worth checking out the guidance to find out more.

How do I know if I’m eligible?

To be eligible for the grant, you’ll need to meet certain criteria. There’s a full summary of the eligibility criteria on the SESF website, with more information in their guidance and FAQ. But as an overview, you should be eligible if you meet the following criteria:

  1. The majority of your beneficiaries must be in England.
  2. Your organisation must be incorporated for at least one year at the date of application.
  3. You must be a social purpose organisation with an asset lock, social objectives and restricted profit distribution where at least 51% of profits is reinvested.
  4. Income in either your last financial year or the previous financial year (pre-COVID-19) must be between £20,000 to £1.8million.
  5. Your organisation must be substantially reliant on trading income.
  6. Your organisation must be financially resilient.

If you need help understanding if you’re eligible, you can fill out our eligibility criteria form.

When can I apply?

The next round of applications is open from Monday 28th February, 1pm until Thursday 24th March, 1pm. Don’t wait to start your application, especially if you might be interested in accessing support through D&A or another of the development partners. We can start providing you with support for your application straight away, so the sooner you get in touch, the more guidance you’ll be able to access!

This sounds great! How do I find out more?

The SESF website has all the answers you need, including their own FAQs and guidance, and a video on the application process from one of last year’s successful applicants!

The fund is also hosting three webinars to help you find out more about the entire process, from application to support for successful applications. Find out more and register to attend.


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