Thousands of pounds up for grabs for Coventry people looking to solve a social challenge

WMCU member Coventry University is offering up to £10,000 to help would-be entrepreneurs in the city turn public-spirited business ideas into reality.

The University’s community focussed subsidiary – CU Social Enterprise (CUSE) – is running a competition to encourage and nurture new business ventures which have been designed to address specific social challenges.

Backed by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), which provided money from its knowledge exchange funding programme, the competition is open to members of the public as well as the University’s own staff and students and runs until Thursday 19 January.

The application process is straightforward with entrants being invited to make a written submission to CUSE, explaining the social situation that they wish to tackle and how their business will go about doing this.

The top six entrants will then be invited to attend a workshop shortly after the competition closes, where experts from the University’s social enterprise team will help with the development of a viable business plan for further consideration by the competition organisers.

The list will then be whittled down to three finalists who will be invited to present their proposals to a panel of social enterprise professionals.  Thereafter, the winner could receive up to £10,000 to set up their business but the prize money could be shared depending on the quality of the submissions.

The city of Coventry recently won formal recognition for the work going on there to promote and support social enterprise. Thanks to the efforts of CUSE and others including the city council and Warwick University, Coventry was awarded with a social enterprise place badge in November 2016 by Social Enterprise UK, the national membership body for businesses with a social or environmental mission.

Companies trading in the city which helped make up the bid for official recognition included a skills training workshop for disadvantaged groups and a healthy lifestyle education initiative. Keith Jeffrey, who heads up CU Social Enterprise, hopes similarly worthwhile ventures will come to the fore during the competition.

Keith said: “There are many exciting and varied social enterprises in Coventry that are making a really positive contribution to the city in terms of economic impact and also by involving and engaging members of the local community.

“We’re keen to seen to see more civic-minded businesses tackling social issues in the city, which is why we’re running this competition. We’re hoping people will come forward with some great ideas and with the money on offer, alongside our guidance and support, we can help turn these concepts into sustainable social enterprises.”