The Community Business Fund provides grants of between £50,000 and £300,000 to help existing locally based and community-led businesses in England to increase their social impact and make them more viable in the long term.
Since it launched in April 2016, more than 90 organisations across England have been awarded grants with a combined total of £16 million. The funding has supported a wide range of community businesses, such as community hubs, ferryboats, cafes, a community-run cinema, and a lobster hatchery.
Projects and organisations must be incorporated, based in England and share the following four key features of a community business:
• Locally rooted – they are rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to its needs, for example high levels of urban deprivation or rural isolation.
• Accountable to local community – they are accountable to local people. This can be demonstrated in many ways but the organisation must have evidence of regular community influence on the business.
• Trading for benefit of local community – they are businesses and their income comes from activities like renting out space in their buildings, trading as cafes or selling the produce they grow.
• Broad community impact – they benefit the community as a whole and can clearly evidence the positive social impact on the broader community.
Projects must be ready to start within six months and can last between 18 months to three years in total. They also must share one or more of the following seven impact goals:
• Reduce social isolation.
• Improve health and wellbeing.
• Increase employability.
• Create better access to basic services.
• Improve local environment.
• Enable greater community cohesion.
• Foster greater community pride and empowerment.
The grants can be used for the following:
• Capital costs including building, vehicles, equipment of significant value, refurbishment costs.
• Project-specific revenue costs like staff costs, professional fees, volunteer costs.
The funding cannot be used for retrospective costs, existing day to day running costs or costs which someone else is paying for, whether in cash or in kind.
Organisations that are not able to submit an application by the Round 5 deadline have further opportunities to apply as there will be another round opening in September 2018 with grants awarded in early 2019.
The deadline for Round 5 applications is noon on 22 May 2018.