Business support organisations

If you are starting a new social enterprise, or trying to grow an existing one, you don’t have to do it on your own. Help is on hand from a wide range of specialists. Some will be free (i.e.publicly funded) and some will be paid for. Here are some of the main sources of support in Greater Birmingham and Solihull:

The Growth Hub — this is the main publicly funded programme of business advice and is provided by the Greater Birmingham and Solihull LEP. Register for access, news and updates.

 iSE — free services include events, networking, and women’s enterprise support. Paid for services include bespoke business advice, hot-desking and co-working space, consultancy. Also, new from early 2017, the USE IT! social enterprise development programme in West Birmingham and Sandwell, aimed particularly at social enterprises and entrepreneurs who can help address local social and economic disadvantage. USE IT! details/enquiries or ring 0121 771 1411.

 Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Programme is a free business and management education course offered to a cohort of 25 to 30 small business and social enterprise leaders from the Midlands twice a year. This programme is not intended for start-up enterprises or sole traders. Check for availability.

  UnLtd is the leading provider of support to social entrepreneurs in the UK and offers the largest such network in the world. UnLtd resources hundreds of individuals each year through its core Awards programme.

If you’re aged 18-30, living in the UK and unemployed or working fewer than 16 hours a week and have a business idea or some ideas to explore, The Prince’s Trust  Enterprise Programme may be able to help you.


 Community Enterprise for Success is a free enterprise support programme for social enterprises and voluntary and community groups in Solihull.

 Solihull SUSTAiN is Solihull’s main support organisation for the voluntary and community sector.

West Midlands & National

The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) provides opportunities for groups of like-minded individuals to learn the skills, build confidence and develop support networks that will help them succeed. SSE supports around 60 social entrepreneurs each year. Attendance is via an application process. Look out for details of the next call for places by following them on Twitter (@ssemidlands) or sign up to the mailing list. SSE operates schools in Cornwall, Dartington, East, Hampshire, London, Midlands North East, North West, Scotland, Yorkshire & Humber.

→ Co-operative Futures a specialist support agency for co-operatives, community businesses and mutuals. For more information check the website or send mail.

More information

Download our revised (Jan 2017) guide to business advice & support.