BUSINESSES that improve the lives of residents in some of the region’s most disadvantaged neighbourhoods can get a share on a new £1.7million support package.
Funded by Commonwealth Games legacy money, the free business support programme – one of the biggest of its kind ever launched – is now open to applications from leaders of social enterprises, community-owned businesses, cooperatives and charity trading arms.
The scheme, which has been launched by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), will give 160 business leaders support to help sharpen their key business skills through peer learning and for one-to-one coaching and mentoring to help them grow their organisations, become more sustainable and widen the impact they have in addressing inequalities.
The WMCA say the region’s social economy – businesses that use their profits to achieve positive community and environmental impact – is worth around £3.5billion a year and directly impacts the lives of over 250,000 people – as employees, volunteers or as beneficiaries.
Councillor Kerrie Carmichael, the WMCA’s portfolio lead for inclusive communities, said: “Social economy businesses are run by people with first-hand experience of the issues and challenges faced by their communities and are therefore best placed to develop solutions that can address long-standing disadvantage.
“The money the combined authority is putting into developing the services they provide and the people who run them is proof of the belief we have in their ability to be one of the driving forces of our commitment to ensuring people thrive in the places where they live and work.”
The growth programme is being delivered in partnership with Enterprise Nation, Locality, Aston University and the School for Social Entrepreneurs using funding from the £70million Commonwealth Games Legacy Enhancement Fund, which is being administered by the WMCA on behalf of the UK Government.
The WMCA has already handed £400,000 to eight community-focussed organisations to help them identify specific community facilities, local services, education and training opportunities that can improve their communities, and then act as a springboard to bring in further investment to help deliver them.
For more or to apply click here.