What is a community business?
The last few years have seen a rise in the number of community businesses in the UK. However, many people are unclear as to what they are and what they do. Perhaps one of the best explanations comes from Power to Change which was set up in 2015 with the aim of supporting community businesses to create better places across England. They have identified four characteristics that are shared by most community businesses:
1.- Locally rooted
They are rooted in a particular geographical place and respond to its needs. For example, that could be high levels of urban deprivation or rural isolation.
2.- Trading for the benefit of the local community
They are businesses. Their income comes from things like renting out space in their buildings, trading as cafes, selling produce they grow or generating energy.
3.- Accountable to the local community
They are accountable to local people, for example through a community shares offer that creates members who have a voice in the business’s direction.
4.- Broad community impact
They benefit and impact their local community as a whole. They often morph into the hub of a neighbourhood, where all types of local groups gather, for example to access broadband or get training in vital life skills.
Source: Power to Change
Types of community business
Support is given to local people to address local challenges, control local assets and services that are in danger of ceasing to exist and to start new businesses that respond to local need. An excellent example of what can be achieved by community businesses is the Granby Four Streets Project in Liverpool. Granby is in the Toxteth area of Liverpool which went into sharp decline after the riots in 1981.
However since then the residents of the four streets area have fought hard for their neighbourhood and in 2011 formed the Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust to work on the renovation of properties. In 2014 Assemble, an 18 strong co-operative was appointed to work on the renovation of its derelict houses. This project went on to win the Turner Prize in 2015 for Assemble’s ‘ongoing collaboration with local residents’.
Funding and grants for community businesses
Grants of £30,000 to £500,000 are available to community businesses through Power to Change’s Community Business Fund which opens on the 26th April 2016. As funding for Power to Change came from the Big Lottery Fund, details of the fund were published on our governmentmentfunding.org.uk website. Subscribers sent full details of the fund including guidelines, deadlines and the application procedure two weeks before the opening date. Subscribe today to receive updates on future funding opportunities for charities.