Edinburgh University Students’ Association is introducing a new £5,000 social enterprise fund to help students set up sustainable, profits-for-purpose businesses.
This is a pilot scheme which is hoping to fund six projects that trade as businesses but tackle specific social challenges and reinvest profits back into their enterprise or the community.
Alec Edgecliffe-Johnson, president of Edinburgh University Students’ Association, spoke to The Student about the fund, saying that it was set up from an understanding that many students are interested in the sector.
Edgecliffe-Johnson stated: “Scotland is pretty much world leading in social enterprise right now, we want to make sure that the Students’ Association is ahead of the curve.”
He mentioned that the grant is being introduced to ensure that “students don’t face a financial barrier in reaching and doing some of the great projects that are out there.
“The idea is that it’s a more sustainable form of charity… it’s a charitable mission but you’re not reliant on external funding,” he said.
Edgecliffe-Johnson hopes that this will provide students with knowledge of the growing opportunities in social enterprise, and the ability to be involved in it.
He elaborated: “This could be the future of business, profits-for-purpose.”
To apply for the grant, students need to show how they will use the money, why their social mission is significant and how their business will remain self-sustainable. All students are eligible and can apply for £500 or £1,000 funding.
If they are successful in the first stage of application, they will be invited to a ‘Dragons Den-style’ pitch event.
At the pitch event, Edinburgh University Students’ Association will interview them about their proposed project and decide who will be awarded the grant.
In late March, Edinburgh University Students’ Association, University staff, and the successful students will come together once again and review how the money has been used, and how the grant can continue to be successful in the future.
The deadline for this year’s applications is 20 November 2016.