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Business support

Enhance Social Enterprise

European Regional Development Fund logoMap of Devon Torbay, Plymouth Somerset


The Enhance Social Enterprise programme delivers business support and advice to new and established social enterprises within the Heart of South West LEP area.

What’s a social enterprise?

Businesses with primarily social objectives whose surpluses are principally reinvested for that purpose in the business or in the community, rather than being driven by the need to maximise profit for shareholders and owners.

In simple, plain English a social enterprise could be a business that reinvests its profits into a strong social or environmental mission whilst generating an income. This programme will also apply if you are an aspirational social entrepreneur.

How can I tell if my business is a social enterprise?

There are several key distinguishing features of genuine social enterprises, which were agreed by the social enterprise sector when the Social Enterprise Mark was first created:

  • Trading primarily for social/environmental purposes, as articulated in governing documents.
  • Committed to reinvesting principal proportion of profits and income towards achieving social/environmental objectives, taking priority over maximising profits for shareholders.
  • Earn at least 50% of income from trading.
  • Demonstrating that social/environmental objectives are being achieved.
  • Independently owned/controlled.

What’s on offer?

Enhance Social Enterprise has received funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in order to increase the number of social enterprise start-ups and to support the growth of existing ones.

Existing social enterprises will be supported to develop and launch new products and services as well as entering new markets.

There will also be support for voluntary and community sector groups that want to transition into trading social enterprises as well as budding social entrepreneurs in need of help to develop their ideas to start trading

The programme involves a minimum of 12 hours of tailored business support.

Who’s it for?

Eligible businesses based in Devon, Plymouth, Somerset and Torbay.

Who can support me?

We have a wide, experienced range of delivery partners as part of our programme.


Based in Honiton, East Devon, Cosmic is an ethical IT business which specialises in website development, IT training courses, business consultancy, tech support, digital marketing and search engine optimisation…Find out more about cosmic

Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs

Based in Dartington, South Devon, Dartington School for Social Entrepreneurs support social entrepreneurs: people who tackle social problems by starting, scaling and sustaining organisations. We help them impact urgent issues, such as poverty, health, education and the environment… Find out more about social entrepreneurs

Devon Community Foundation

Based in Tiverton, Mid Devon, Devon Community Foundation will provide your social purpose organisation with specialist support to develop sustainable incomes and investment readiness to help you achieve your growth aspirations… Find out more about the Devon Community Foundation

Iridescent Ideas

Based in Plymouth, South Devon, Growing a social enterprise economy by delivering great business support for social enterprises and charities. Support with legal status and reviews of different legal structures… Find out more about iridescent ideas

Real Ideas Organisation

Based in Plymouth, South Devon, Providing a range of services to help other organisations harness the power of social enterprise to realise their ambitions, including consultancy, training and business support… Find out more about real ideas organisation

Somerset Community Foundation

Developing sustainable revenue streams. Investment readiness. Find out more about Somerset Community Foundation

How do I get involved?

Enhance Social Enterprise works in tandem with the ERDF Growth Support Programme and can be accessed either by clicking on the link below or through the Growth Hub. The Growth Hub is the one-stop-shop for all business related advice across the Heart of the South West area. Click here to find out more.

If you are not sure of the support that you need and you are eligible, you can opt to participate in a free three-hour business diagnostic with the Growth Support Programme.

Upon completion of  the diagnostic, you can decide to remain with the Growth Support Programme and explore available business support or you can ask to be referred to Enhance Social Enterprise and request specialist support in the following areas:

  • Business Start up.
  • Business Development.
  • Business Growth.
  • Social Enterprise Leadership Development.
  • Digital Understanding and Transformation.
  • Financial Sustainability and Diversification.
  • Legal Structure and Governance.
  • Measuring Social Impact.

In order to register for the programme please check your eligibility. If you are eligible, please register using the online form.

eligibility checker buttonregister for the growth support programme


Join the Network

In addition to business support there are significant opportunities for networking and promotion through the newly formed Social Enterprise Network Development partnership. The partnership is led by Devon Communities Together, and is made up of:

Essence – Exeter

Devon Communities Together – rural Devon

Plymouth Social Enterprise Network – Plymouth

Smart Communities Ltd (part of the Community Council for Somerset) – Somerset

Local Spark: Torbay Community Development Trust – Torbay

Member Benefits

Capitalise on the increasing public and political interest in an alternative way to do business, and support local community development, by becoming a member of your local network.

Helen from Cosmic laughing and delivering training

By joining one network you have access to information about activities across the whole LEP area, which can include:

  • Marketing and promotion of your business through inclusion in an online database and map
  • Inspiring local networking and connecting events, including visits and talks
  • Signposting, advice and support
  • Access to special discounts on goods and services
  • Heightened social media campaigns around key calendar dates
  • An awards celebration showcasing the best of local social enterprise
  • A collective voice to promote the benefits of social enterprises and their ethical difference

To join your local network, click on the name of the network above to be taken directly to their page.

The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme is receiving up to £1,053,610 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for ERDF. Established by the European Union, ERDF funds help local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit