For social entrepreneurs

Awards

You have an idea or are already making a difference and are looking for support to develop your social venture. We combine funding and support to help you get started or grow.

Definitions

Social entrepreneur
is a person who has started, or is looking to start a social venture, someone who is driven by their passion to make a difference.
Social venture
is a business which has a social mission at its heart, often described as a profit for purpose business. It is essential to have a financially sustainable business model to continue making a difference.

Funding

Grants

We combine funding and support to help you to get started or grow. Depending on your stage of development we can offer up to £18,000.

    Starting Up

    Up to £8,000

    You are committed to creating social impact in a financially sustainable way. You are at an early stage or have started to make a difference to people's lives, communities, or the planet.

    For social venture costs

    Social venture eligibility

    • Incorporated

      Not yet or less than 4 years

    • Selling goods and services

      Less than 1 year

    Scaling Up

    Up to £18,000

    You are the founder of a financially sustainable social venture that is making a positive difference to people’s lives, communities, or the planet. You have evidence of your social impact and ambitions to build on it.

    For social venture costs

    For social entrepreneur living costs

    Social venture eligibility

    • Incorporated

      Less than 4 years

    • Selling goods and services

      1 to 4 years

Support

Programmes

As an Award Winner you will have access to the advice, guidance and expertise needed to build on the foundations of your social venture and grow your impact.

Considering your age, location, and the sectors in which you and your social venture operate, you will be assigned to one of our tailored programmes for support for up to a year. Our programmes are designed to provide specialised support that align with the needs of you and your social venture.

Apply

How to apply for an Award

Read through all of the following steps to guide you in your application. We are committed to using our resources to drive change. At least 50% of our Awards will support social entrepreneurs who come from a disabled and/or Black, Asian or minority ethnic background. Learn more about our equity commitments.

For those with additional support needs and who may face barriers to applying, we can offer 1:1 assistance and signposting to other funding and support.

Details

Social entrepreneur

Eligible

  • The founder and lead of the social venture.
  • Are 16 years old or older.
  • Has not previously received the same Award type for the same social venture.
  • Living in the United Kingdom.

Not eligible

  • Looking for funding for a one-off or short-term project where there is limited potential for long-term impact.
  • Requests for support which are predominately for the individual to undertake academic qualifications or overseas travel.
  • Individuals who plan to employ others to undertake most of the work on their behalf.

Social venture

Eligible

  • Has the potential to be financially sustainable with our support.
  • Can demonstrate a clear need for your idea or social venture.
  • Is clearly driven by its social purpose.
  • Needs both our financial and non-financial support to make it happen.

Not eligible

  • Is predominantly focused on having an impact on people or places outside the UK.
  • Has been incorporated for over four years at the time of application (Companies House or Charity Commission registration).
  • Charities that have been incorporated longer than 4 years which are setting up a social venture.
  • Had a turnover of over £250,000 in its last financial year.
  • Involves political, or religious campaigning.
  • Involves activities outside of the law, against public policy or anything which encourages ethnic, religious, or commercial disharmony.
  • Social ventures whose focus is predominantly on raising awareness of social issues.

We receive many more applications than we can support so before you apply, watch our video to decide if UnLtd is right for you.

Social Entrepreneur

  • We support individuals. This means that the application must be completed by the founder, the person behind the idea and in need of both our financial and non-financial support.
  • We value lived experience. We believe that having a deep understanding of the challenges you want to tackle can make you a passionate and determined social entrepreneur.
  • To get the most from our support, you should need the coaching and guidance our teams can offer to help you develop your social venture.

Social venture

  • We will prioritise social ventures which are tackling inequality and focussing on the most marginalised communities and those with high levels of need.
  • We want to support you to create long-lasting change for people, communities, or the planet so your social venture must have the potential to be financially sustainable, with potential for growth.
  • If you are applying for a Starting Up Award, you might not have secured your first customers yet, but you will have done some research and will be confident in who will pay for your goods or services.
  • If you are applying for a Scaling Up Award, your social venture will already be trading (selling goods or services) and there will be clear potential for you to grow your impact alongside your income.
  • If you need a lot more money than we can offer, you should have a reasonable plan for how you will get it, or you will be unlikely to get our support.

Apply before 30 June and you will get a decision by the week commencing 23 September.

Application submitted Application assessed Application result
1 Jan 2024 - 31 Mar 2024 Apr 2024 - Jun 2024 24 Jun 2024
1 Apr 2024 - 30 Jun 2024 Jul 2024 - Sep 2024 23 Sep 2024
1 Jul 2024 - 30 Sep 2024 Oct 2024 - Dec 2024 9 Dec 2024
Do you want help understanding the deadlines?

1. Support Manager assessment

If your application meets all of the eligibility criteria, we will review your application based on social impact, inclusion, and financial sustainability.

2. Peer review

Your application will be reviewed and discussed by our Support Managers. Those with the most potential will be invited to a panel meeting.

3. Panel meeting

You will be invited to discuss your application with a panel made up of UnLtd staff and social entrepreneurs who have previously received our support.

UnLtd panel members are representative of the communities we serve, and receive training in making fair decisions. You will receive guidance, so you know what to expect.

4. Result

If you are recommended for an award by the panel, your application will be reviewed by our Awards Committee (a group of our trustees which also includes social entrepreneurs) who make the final decision on your application. You will be informed by email of the outcome of your application.

Need help?

Before you make an account and start your application, you can review the application questions to help you prepare and ensure you have the information you will need. We have 3 different application forms depending on how long social venture has been trading:

Your social venture is not yet trading (Starting Up)

Your social venture has been trading for less than 1 year (Starting Up)

Your social venture has been trading between 1 to 4 years (Scaling Up)

If you are applying for a Scaling Up Award you will need to provide some financial data with your application, visit our financial data webpage to make sure that you have the information we require before starting your application.

Extra support for marginalised individuals

If you identify as a marginalised individual, we can offer 1 to 1 assistance with making an application or signposting to other funding and support.

FAQ

Frequently asked questions

If you don't find an answer to your question, you can make an Award enquiry.

The eligibility criteria are listed on the Awards page. You must meet all the eligibility criteria to make an application as we are unable to make exceptions.

We check the date of registration on Companies House/Charity Commission during our assessment. If your social venture has been registered for longer than four years at the time of your application, you are ineligible to apply for Award.

No. You can apply to us even before identifying the right legal structure and may wish to seek support from us on the right one for your social venture.

We aim to support people who are creating or developing social ventures which have the most potential to create positive social change. We have provided information on eligibility and suitability for our Awards on the Awards page. You can also watch the video on the Awards page to help you to decide if applying for an UnLtd Award is right for you.

Our focus is on assisting those with additional support needs to access our application process. We aim for our Award making to be as equitable as possible, so while we are unable to advise you on your idea/social venture or tell you if your application would be successful, we can provide 1:1 assistance with making an application to people who identify as being marginalised. You can access this support through our Awards page.

Currently we can only accept applications via our online application form. This is to ensure that we provide an equitable experience for all applicants. If you identify as a marginalised individual, we can we can provide 1:1 assistance with making an application.

To accommodate different accessibility needs we can be asked to make changes to our process to give people the best chance of communicating their idea and plans with us. This could be arranging a conversation with a member of the team to provide clarity on the questions and process, providing information in accessible formats or working with you to make available a BSL interpreter, for example. We will consider any requests for accessibility that will reduce a barrier to applying.

You can preview our full application form along with guidance for each question from our Awards page. The same guidance is also available in the online form.

We have Word and PDF versions of our application available from our Awards page. Once you are ready, you will need to create or log into your account to complete the application online. Please ensure that you take note of the character counts for each question so that you can copy and paste your answers into the online form.

Use the save and close button to save your progress. You can return to the application to complete it when you are ready. Take note of the date you will need to submit your application if you want it to be reviewed during the next round of assessments.

Please check that you are using the latest version of your web browser. Please also carefully check that you haven't gone over the character count for each answer (this is the number of characters used rather than the number of words). Spaces are included in these character counts.

We approve Awards quarterly to provide the best support to our Award Winners, so we understand that it can feel like you have been waiting a while for the outcome of your application. You can find the application and assessment timeframes on the Awards page. During the assessment period you will receive updates from us via email, or you can log back into your account to see the status of your application.

Due to the volume of applications we receive, we cannot provide any more detail on why your application was not successful beyond the information given in our decision email. If you are unsuccessful we will share a list of other funding and support available for social entrepreneurs.

You may reapply however we would encourage you to carefully consider any feedback we gave you on your previous application. If you have been unsuccessful multiple times, please get in touch with us before starting a new application.

If you have received a Starting Up Award, you can apply for a Scaling Up Award when your initial Award is complete. You cannot apply for the same Award type for the same social venture. If applying for a different social venture, we will prioritise new applicants.

If you don't find an answer to your question, you can make an Award enquiry.