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If you have a good idea you think could be an enterprise or a new income stream which also delivers social impact, then get in touch for a chat to get the ball rolling!

The LARCH Programme is made up of two strands:

  • access to enterprise development support to develop social enterprises or earned income streams within existing VCS organisations.
  • blended repayable finance – this is social investment blended with grant funding to make it more accessible to organisations.

The enterprise development support includes a range of activities  including events, workshops, training, pitching events, networking, enterprise development activities, and peer support.  Organisations may also be eligible for more intensive support to develop their social enterprise or enterprise idea through financial support to access expertise or to pay for other development activities.

The overarching aim is to raise awareness and understanding of social enterprise and enterprising activity within existing VCS organisations and begin the process of culture change; actively embedding enterprise into the work of social change organisations.

You can find more details on the LARCH Live Page and also please sign up to the newsletter to be kept informed of all the opportunities to get involved.

LARCH will wrap the right sort of support package around you. We'll recognise the skills, strengths and resources you already have before pulling in the expertise to help your idea move forward and achieve your social enterprise goals.


The Local Access Enterprise Development intensive support can only be accessed by organisations that meet the following criteria set out by Access Foundation and Big Society Capital:

The Local Access programme can support VCS organisations & social enterprises and some other organisations:

Regulated/registered organisations – charities, Community Interest Companies or Community Benefit Societies which pursue charitable objective(s).

Unregulated social sector organisations (such as CLGs, CLSs and IPSs) may be eligible, if the business fulfils the following criteria:

– Mission lock and social mission
– Profit distribution and asset lock
– Maximises public benefit, private gain is incidental, no state aid issues
– Transparency on social impact and social/ charitable purposes

  • Sole Traders/Partnerships
  • Commercial Organisations
  • Private Businesses 

So, what does LARCH mean when it refers to social enterprise?

Social enterprise is an umbrella term used to describe a business established to create positive social change. As a business it must have a focus on economic success. However, it differs from other businesses in that the money generated is used to tackle its social aims rather than to reward the business owners or shareholders.

At its core the concept of social enterprise is relatively straightforward and can be defined as having all of the following common characteristics:

Driven by social aims or goals

Profits are reinvested in the enterprise and its social aims

Derives at least part of its income from trading rather than from grant funding or donations (1)

In addition, sometimes social enterprises are required to have social and democratic ownership features. A wide range of legal structures is open to social enterprises and other third sector organisations. None of these identify with certainty that the organisation is a social enterprise, but an incorporated social enterprise must normally:

Not distribute profits to its owners or shareholders (2)

Identify the social aims of the organisation

Have an asset lock. This means that should the organisation be dissolved its assets are to be given to another asset-locked organisation

1 Some definitions require at least 50% to derive from trading.
2 In certain specific circumstances profits can be distributed, for example CICs can distribute a portion of profits to investors of ‘patient capital’. In certain circumstances profits can be used to fund the social aims delivered by another organisation.

So, what isn't a social enterprise?

Many organisations in public and private sectors have strong social aims and deliver substantial social benefits. But they are not social enterprises since they also have the right to distribute profit to their owners and shareholders.

Many third sector organisations do not have, and do not want to have, any level of trade or enterprise, but rather are funded exclusively by grants and donations and so are not social enterprises.

And a social enterprise is not a business that requires grant support to make it profitable. However, because social enterprises aim to create social change, some (but not all) grant funders share that philosophy and as such are willing to support with funding. However, each funder will normally have additional criteria, to that outlined above, that will need to be met to determine eligibility.

So, it can be quite a complicated exercise to identify whether you are a social enterprise or whether your personal idea can become a social enterprise.

Take a look at other social enterprises

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If you can’t find what you are looking for then send us a message!


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