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GBSLEP Consultation on their Strategic Economic Plan 2016-2030 Open

As a business support organisation specialising in supporting Social Enterprises to develop and grow and being based in the west Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) area we have been interested in the developments of the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP) for some time.

Many of you will have noticed recently that its growth hub website is now reasonably well populated and growth funding is available for business in the area (not social enterprises – likely because there are a number of specialised social enterprise development funds around) to scale up and grow.  So things are starting to move along.

However, we noted today that the GBSLEP Strategic Economic Plan (SEP) 2016-2030 (draft consultation version) “A greater Birmingham for a Greater Britain” is now published and the GBSLEP are interested in your comments on the plan. So we thought at the very least you’d want to read it and if you have comments please do send it through either by email or post to:

Comments on the SEP and our approach are welcomed by email and by post before the consultation closes on Friday 9th September 2016.

gbslep@birmingham.gov.uk SEP Consultation
GBSLEP Executive
Ground Floor, Baskerville House
Centenary Square, Broad Street
Birmingham B1 2ND




Solihull’s VCSE is Ready for Success

R4SDirectoryVCSE organisations working in Solihull are celebrating their achievements on Development in Social Enterprise’s Ready for Success project. The project followed our successful Community Enterprise for Success programmes of support for local VCSE organisations and has been funded by Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council’s transformation directorate.

The Ready for Success project is part of “Solihull Together for Better Lives” which aims to transform social care and health services to increase choice, control and independence by ensuring health and social care services meet current and future needs. 23 organisations took part in the bespoke programme of support designed to ensure organisations were prepared for future commissioning and procurement of services (tender ready).

In March 2016 organisations attended and awards ceremony to recognise their achievements and saw the formal launch of the Health and Wellbeing Networking Directory. Karen Murphy, Assistant Director, Public Health and Commissioning thanked the group for engaging with the six month business development programme. Karen continued “We know that the process of commissioning and procurement can cause anxiety for smaller local organisations, and not be a pleasant experience if ill prepared. Procurement practices have traditionally tended to favour big organisations and we hope programmes like this will go some way towards levelling the playing field. We are committed to investing in our local providers and this piece of work has flagged up learning for us too, things we can do better. Above all, we see you as our partners and thank you for the work you do.”

David Lane, Chief Executive at Development in Social Enterprise said: “Since last October we have worked closely with organisations delivering a wide range of services including advice and guidance, advocacy, mental health, recovery support, and therapeutic indoor and outdoor activities. There was a genuine desire amongst the group to identify and address development areas, explore business opportunities and build relationships with one another for the benefit of service users.”


So that’s what a social enterprise is!

Social Enterprise is a way of doing business. Last Social Saturday (2015) we sponsored a range of video showcases to help you understand more about social enterprise and the varied things they do, see below.

If you need help and want to start or grow your social enterprise then give us a call 0121 667 6810.

WBC Fit Club CIC


The Olive Branch Kitchen CIC


Jericho Foundation (Charity) running a number of social enterprises here is the Print Works

Want to see more? Head over to our Youtube channel 



Business Development Manager – Job- Solihull

SoLO Life Opportunities “Embracing Disability, Empowering Lives”

Business Development Manager. An exciting new opportunity has arisen within SoLO for the right person to join our Senior Management Team – are you that person? We are looking for an enthusiastic, confident, high achieving individual with marketing and bid writing experience at a senior level.

But we want more than this!  The right candidate would need to have a passion for ensuring that people with a learning disability are given an equal chance in life.  He or she would have experience in managing teams of people and have the ability to inspire, motivate and direct the current marketing and fundraising team.  He or she would need to demonstrate evidence of successful fundraising and bid writing with an understanding of how the voluntary sector works.

If appointed, you would become part of an exciting new programme of development, have the satisfaction of working in an environment which makes a difference to people’s lives and gain significant job satisfaction.

This appointment is subject to enhanced DBS clearance.

The post is a one year funded post, part time initially, starting at 25-30 hours a week (with opportunity to grow to full time and permanent), salary £18.18 an hour

For further information please contact Janet Down on 0121 779 3865 or by email Janet@solihullsolo.org  alternatively you can view the vacancy and download an application form from our website at www.solihullsolo.org

Due to nature of funding, the deadline for applications is 2nd May, 2016

Interviews will be held on 5th or 6th May.



Power to Change Guidance

A quick update for those of you who aim to grow your community businesses and to follow up on a post ( a few weeks ago) about the £10m fund.

Power to Change has now released the funding guidance to apply for the fund which will potentially provide up to 75% of the development costs with a ceiling application of £300,000.

Please note this is a fund that has strict criteria and is aiming to fund sustainable community business development so do check the criteria carefully. In previous rounds only 5% of applications were awarded and a very high proportion were not awarded based on the organisation not meeting the basic community business criteria.

You can download their guidance here http://www.thepowertochange.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/Community-Business-Fund-applicant-guidance.pdf



Is CIO the Way to Go?

We’re moving a step closer to making it simple for charities to convert to a CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation), as the Cabinet Office has recently opened a consultation on the process (details below).

Charities may be able to convert to a CIO as (soon) as the 1st October 2016, the provisional timetable being:

  • charitable companies with an annual income greater than £500,000 convert to CIO status by 1 October 2016
  • those with an annual income of between £250,000 and £500,000 in December 2016
  • those with incomes of between £100,000 and £250,000 in February 2017
  • between £25,000 to £100,000 in April 2017
  • those with lower incomes of less than £25,000 in July 2017.

For some this will be welcome news, as it has taken some time to get to this point. Those supporting the sector’s development may remember that we were discussing the possibility and the then “new” legislation for a CIC and CIO back in the very early 2000s.

The CIC became available for social enterprises in 2005 and it was thought the CIO would follow swiftly, but it finally became available in 2013 and now the Charity Commission has reported that around half of the applications to form a new charity are using the CIO model.

The CIO model has been welcomed, prior to that, Charities needed to register with Companies House as well as the Charity Commission in order to become a limited liability legal entity. They therefore had two structures and needed to report to two regulators, the CIO streamlined this being a limited structure only reporting to the Charity Commission.

If you would like to comment on the consultation then you can do this by Respondents to the consultation can submit a response or an enquiry via email to charities-act@cabinetoffice.gov.uk. For further information on how to respond, click here.


EY Entrepreneur of the Year awards closing date looming – Friday!

Our friend Melanie over at Social Investment Business dropped us a line to remind us that the entrepreneur of the year awards close on Friday.

Having worked in our region for Social Enterprise West Midlands she knows the spirit and passion of social entrepreneurs here and wouldn’t it be great if someone local won!

So if you know someone, or you think it could be you, why don’t you zap over to the website and apply… nothing ventured, nothing gained… someone once said!

So this is a last reminder entries close on Friday so there is still time to apply http://www.ey.com/UK/en/About-us/Entrepreneurship/Entrepreneur-Of-The-Year

Good luck!


£10m fund to open in April

If you need £50,000 to £300,000 to support your community business to develop and grow then you’ll be pleased to know that the Power to Change £1om grant programme is opening a new funding round on 26th April 2016.

A few pointers:

Power to change is for community business rooted in the community with community ownership (check eligibility here) and in previous rounds it only funded 5% of applicants and more than two thirds of applications dd not meet their criteria. Funding will rarely exceed 75% of overall development costs.

Power to change is expecting this round will be highly competitive and is having further rounds in July and October. the fund expects to award relatively equal acorss each round.

Key dates to note:

  • 5 April: Full criteria will be published on the Power to Change Website the grants helpline will open to help you with your application and any questions you have about eligibility.
  • 19 April: They will host a free Q&A webinar about the programme.
  • 26 April – 1 June: First application window
  • July 2016: Second funding round opens
  • October 2016: Third funding round opens

To register your interest then click here



New £1m Coop Support Programme Launched Today

Firstly we’d like to say we’re extremely pleased to have been selected as a preferred supplier for business support on this new initiative and look forward to helping cooperatives develop and grow, but now what you really want to know.

The Hive a new programme of business support for people wanting to start or grow co-operatively run organisations has been launched today.

Run by Co-operatives UK, the network for Britain’s thousands of co-operatives, in partnership with The Co-operative Bank, The Hive will provide mix of online resources, training, advice and peer mentoring to organisations and start-ups right across a range the co-operative sector.

You might run a co-op already and want to strengthen it, be at the early stages of starting-up your business, or considering converting your organisation to co-operative or community ownership.

From renewables to retail, sports to social care, if you’re looking for business support, The Hive is for you.

See how The Hive can help you build a better co-operative business.

View a short film here





Open to Applications

The Lloyds Bank Social Entrepreneurs Start Up programme is open for applications.

Now we’ve got your attention. The school for Social Entrepreneurs (Midlands) is open to applications. We are proud to work with the School for Entrepreneurs as “Expert Witnesses” on their Social Enterprise Start up programme not just because their Learning Manager (2015) said “every start-up programme should start with Development in Social Enterprise”, but because it’s probably the best start up programme for social entrepreneurs in the Midlands.

The programme offers:

  • 14 days of learning over a 12 month period starting in October
  • A mentor from Lloyds Bank
  • A £4000 grant to help get your idea off the ground.

As you can see the programme is an extensive action learning programme with a grant and therefore places are highly contested, but if you don’t apply you won’t be in the running!

They are holding an Information and Taster session in Birmingham in the evening of 3rd March to help you find out more and provide insight into what a successful application looks like – Book a place now.

The deadline for full applications is 1:00 pm on 21st March. Applications here https://www.the-sse.org/courses/start-up/

Good Luck!