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Business Support and Grants

Social Enterprise & Responsible Organisation Partnership

Social enterprises are businesses engaged in some form of trading, but instead of making money for private shareholders they make profits to address social and/or environmental needs.  They are distinct from private sector businesses by having an explicit social and/or environmental purpose; they are different from voluntary sector organisations by having a business focus. Social Enterprise is a concept not a legal entity. 

There are more than 60,000 social enterprises in the UK, adding over £24billion to the economy and employing nearly 1million people. The South East is one of the fastest growing areas with 36% of social enterprises in the area are less than 3 years old (SE UK 2016). In Southend, a Social Enterprise and Responsible Business Network has been established to engage, network, share, plan, raise awareness, and seek funding/support for social enterprises operating in the area. A copy of the Terms of Reference can be obtained here. We are also interested in creating some exciting case studies and would love to hear from you. 

If you are interested in starting a Social Enterprise or finding out more about the network in Southend please contact the Economic Development team on 01702 215022 or email 

In aid of the Social Saturday 2018, a series of short films were created to showcase the extrodinary social enterprises in Southend. Please following the links below to view the videos on YouTube.

There are a number of national and regional organisations who offers a range of business support and grants programmes for social enterprises. Below is not an exclusive list but we'd recommend. 

  • SAVS (an independent charity known as a council for voluntary services)
  • BEST Growth Hub (a signposting service to help you find your way around the business support landscape in Essex)
  • BSTLC (to encourage and facilitate businesses in Southend to support local charities, community groups and educational establishments) 
  • Social Enterprise UK (the leading global authority on social enterprise & and runs Social Saturday, Corporate Challenge, Social Enterprise Awards etc.)
  • Social Enterprise East of England (membership organisation for social enterprises in East of England)
  • School for Social Entrepreneurs (helps people to start up, scale and strengthen organisations that tackle social and environmental problems)
  • UnLtd (UnLtd’s core awards are funded by the Millennium Awards Trust and are open to enterprising people tackling any social issue)
  • Inspire2Enterprise (free-to-access service for the Social Enterprise Sector providing information, specialist advice and support from start-up to initial growth and beyond)

South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) has recently commissioned a mapping exercise and subsequently produced a prospectus for the social enterprise sector, acknowledging the major contribution and impact of the social enterprise sector in the region as well as seeking endorsement from partners to support the priorities presented within. For details and/or a copy of the prospectus please click on the files below.  

Past Events of the Partnership:

  • Social Enterprise Networking - 21 February 2018 at Hive Enterprise Centre
  • Social Enterprise and Responsible Organisation Partnership Event - 10 October 2019 at Twenty One. Click here for a copy of the presentations.