UnLtd & Comic Relief partner on £5 million matched fund to support social entrepreneurs into recovery

UnLtd, the foundation for social entrepreneurs, and Comic Relief have been successful in securing a £10 million matched funding bid from the Department for Culture, Media & Sport to support social entrepreneurs through Covid-19 and boost a more inclusive recovery.

The support will include £5 million in grant support to England’s social ventures, backed up with a package of non-financial support over two years that UnLtd believes is vital to help social ventures recover and thrive in the new normal presented by the Coronavirus pandemic.

UnLtd CEO Mark Norbury:

“We are over the moon to announce that we will be able to support social ventures over the next three years through a £10 million grant from Comic Relief, with half from the DCMS matched funding scheme. This will enable us to support social entrepreneurs through the next six months with £5 million of grant support, and then back it up with two years of follow on support to enable them to recover and then thrive. 

The societal impact of COVID-19 is already proving long-term and wide-ranging, with an alarming rise in youth unemployment, a devastating increase in inequality and the attrition in people’s health, wellbeing and sense of connection. We believe social entrepreneurs, particularly those with lived experience of these challenges and injustices, have powerful solutions to these issues, while also offering meaningful jobs, sustainable finances and a more inclusive recovery.

This support will build on everything our community of social entrepreneurs have been telling us they need – both over the last six months and over the last few years. We will continue to focus on ensuring support makes it to those least represented through traditional grant funding. Over 50% of our grants will go to Black, Asian, minority ethnic and/or disabled entrepreneurs. We will also support the whole spectrum of social entrepreneurs – not just those who are asset locked, but also those who are mission locked. This will make funding more equitable and it will support ventures which can increase their impact even more rapidly. 

The challenges before us are exceptional. Fortunately, social entrepreneurs have shown themselves time and again to be able to rise to the challenge and offer inspired solutions for a much more inclusive and sustainable recovery.”

Ruth Davison, Chief Executive of Comic Relief said:

“Vulnerable communities continue to need our help and support more than ever throughout the pandemic. Our new UnLtd partnership will reach thousands of people in need, including people living with disabilities and Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, thanks to such strong Government support.”

The support for social entrepreneurs will follow on from UnLtd’s successful deployment of £5.1million in grant funding to social enterprises in England as part of the Social Enterprise Support Fund. The Social Enterprise Support Fund was established in partnership by The National Lottery Community Fund and five social enterprise support agencies: Big Issue Invest, The Key Fund, Community Land & Finance CIC (also known as Resonance), the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and UnLtd with support from CAF Venturesome, the Young Foundation and Ashoka.  £18.7 million of National Lottery funding has been committed to the fund, made possible by National Lottery players.

The partnership with Comic Relief is part of £85 million matched funding recently announced through the Government’s Community Match Challenge scheme, itself part of the Government's £750 million support package for charities.

Acknowledging that it is focused on England, UnLtd will be providing an increased focus on Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales through its core Awards support provided by the Millennium Awards Trust. 

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Author Info


Rosalind HolleyHead of External Affairs

I’m UnLtd’s Head of Communications & Digital. I run our communications team and ensure we’re telling the fantastic stories of our many social entrepreneurs. I’ve spent the last eleven years working in brand communications across the tech and social impact sectors. When I’m not evangelising about the potential of social entrepreneurs to change the world, I spend my down-time skiing, playing roller derby and being a board game nerd.

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