Sep 28, 2020

News | Business | Social Enterprise | UK: Social enterprise Covid-19 fund opens


4-5 minutes - Source: BBC

Money in piggy bank Image copyright Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
Image caption Grants of up to £75,000 will be available through the scheme

A £7m Covid-19 fund for social enterprises has opened for applications.

Social enterprises are businesses which reinvest their profits for a social purpose.

The Department for Communities invested in the fund, which will be accepting applications for four weeks.

The primary intention is to help social enterprises "stabilise and manage cash flows over this difficult period", said Communities Minister Carál In Chuilín.

Social enterprises differ from charities and voluntary organisations, which have no financial independence through a trading income.

In May, the executive faced criticism after a a£40m Stormont grants scheme excluded sole traders and some social enterprises.

"The aim is to balance the urgency required to prevent closure of social enterprises and loss of employment and key services," said Ms Ní Chuilín.

The minister said the fund would help ensure the sector was "fit for purpose for the future".

"I would encourage all social enterprises, no matter how big or small, to apply."

Grants of up to £75,000 will be available through the scheme, which was co-designed by Social Enterprise NI and Community Finance Ireland.

Colin Jess, director of Social Enterprise NI, said the fund would "provide much needed help and financial assistance to organisations".

Community Finance Ireland chief executive, Harry McDaid, said: "The sector has suffered greatly these past six months and I welcome that steps are now being taken to mitigate these difficulties."

Meanwhile, a government-backed Apprenticeship Challenge Fund offering awards of up to £100,000 has opened for applications.

Economy Minister Diane Dodds is encouraging organisations with an interest in Northern Ireland's apprenticeship system to apply.

"I am determined to do all I can to develop an effective skills pipeline to support the needs of both employers and our economy while, at the same time, providing valuable employment for our young people," she said.

"The department will use the evaluation of successful proposals to inform longer-term approaches to support apprenticeships.

"It will also assist with the mitigation of the impact of Covid-19 on the skills pipeline."

Those interested have until 23 October to apply.

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