SOCIAL enterprises across the North East will get the chance of a slice of a £600,000 package of European cash to help them become more competitive.
The funding will go to assist 300 social enterprise SMEs with business support to flourish and grow, to safeguard 100 jobs, create jobs in 50 businesses, support potential social entrepreneurs and create at least 10 new enterprises.
The project will offer free support to new and existing enterprises and aims to embed a commercial, business-minded culture that retains its social values.
It aims to empower them to take advantage of market opportunities and improve their productivity, generating their own income and reducing their dependence on grants.
The project has been awarded £592,065 investment from the European Regional Development Fund Competitiveness Programme 2007- 2013, which is managed by the Department for Communities and Local Government.
The consortium project is being led by the North East Social Enterprise Partnership (NESEP) which is made up of organisations including Locality, Community Ventures (Middlesbrough) Ltd, Sustainable Enterprise Strategies CIC and New Leaf New Life with each partner also providing match funding.
It was welcomed by Coun Neil Foster, deputy chairman of the North East England Local Management Committee which engages key partners in the overseeing of the delivery of the ERDF Programme in the North East.
He said: “The project will help social enterprises to become more businesslike and consequently grow in size and turnover, becoming less reliant on grant income.
“ERDF support has ensured that this project will go ahead, helping improve sustainability of social enterprises and contributing to the North East’s economic growth.”
Karen Wood, chief executive at NESEP said: “Approval of ERDF has ensured we can take this project forward which will empower existing social enterprises to develop and take advantage of market opportunities to improve their productivity and become more businesslike.
“This approach will help generate their own income and reduce their dependence on grant income, improving their sustainability which is essential for survival.”
The programme of support will include a diagnostic session to determine business needs; two to five days of support tailored to the identified needs; expert support around key issues including governance, legal structures and marketing as well as workshops on business topics approached from a social enterprise perspective.
The ERDF 2007-13 programme will help create and safeguard 28,000 new jobs, start 3,000 new businesses and increase the region’s productivity by £1.1bn per annum.