Community businesses across the UK are being invited to apply for one to one advice, peer learning and small development grants through the Bright Ideas Fund.
The initiative is run by Power to Change, an independent trust supporting community businesses in England, which announced it would award up to £700,000 through the project.
The fund is open to community groups who have an idea for a community-run business, such as a community-run shop, pub, launderette, swimming pool, park or playing fields. The fund has awarded almost £1.3m to 89 new community businesses across England since it launched in October 2016. Power to Change receives on average 13 applications for every award available, with the majority of these coming from groups in the North West and London.
One of the businesses to have received support through the fund is Permafuture Agroecology, a co-operative working to support and promote restorative and urban farming. The programme enabled it to set up as a co-operative business and launch Bentley Urban Farm, an up-cycled market garden. Based in Bentley, Yorkshire, the farm is tackling food poverty by teaching people how to save money by growing their own food at home. It also helps create wildlife habitats at Bentley’s local parks and builds wildlife areas with the help of children from a local Primary Learning Centre. Through a Veg Box Scheme the co-op enables people to buy locally produced food and offers subsidised boxes to poorer families.
Power to Change expects to award £200,000 in business development support and £500,000 in grants. In addition to one to one business development support, those accepted onto the programme are invited to apply for a small grant of up to £15,000 to fund development and start-up costs, such as feasibility studies, legal and other fees connected with developing governance, taking ownership of an asset, community engagement, business planning, and other aspects.
Sara Buchanan, programme manager of Bright Ideas, said: “This is a chance for communities to take back control. Any business can be a community business and there are almost 7,000 in England alone right now with a combined market income of £1.2bn. How they differ is that any profits flow back into the immediate community to deliver positive social impact for local people.”
The programme is run by Locality, the national network for community organisations. Stephen Rolph, head of Assets and Enterprise at Locality, said: “Every day we see the impact of local communities coming together to meet local needs and tackle challenges in their area. This new funding will enable many more organisations to unlock the power in their communities so that local people can shape their own futures, filling gaps in much needed services.”
- The Bright Ideas Fund will be open for applications between 26 June and 31 July. Click here for details.