Greater Manchester social enterprises launch £8m investment and mentoring programme for business doing good

The scheme has also received the backing of Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham.

A new multi-million pound training and support scheme to help entrepreneurs create and grow socially-minded businesses in Greater Manchester has been launched.

The Proper Good scheme has an £8.25m pot to be spent in four boroughs within the city-region.

The scheme will focus on supporting enterprises which have a social or environmental impact in their area, and has received political backing from the city-region’s elected mayor Andy Burnham.

One social enterprise founder who acts as a programme lead said the sector could do far more to help people across Greater Manchester and ensure local economies thrive.

What is the Proper Good training and investment programme?

Proper Good has been launched to help Greater Manchester entrepreneurs grow businesses which help local communities to thrive and could ultimately contribute to levelling up the city-region’s economy.

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The scheme is running in four boroughs - Bolton, Oldham, Stockport, and Wigan.

In total £8.25m is being made available, with £2m going to the local delivery leads, who are all experienced social entrepreneurs, to develop socially-responsible businesses in their boroughs.

The other £6.25m will be distributed by the Greater Manchester Centre for Voluntary Organisations (GMCVO) as social investment to help those businesses grow.

Entrepreneurs will have access to grant funding, social investment and free tailored training as well as business support.

The programme will run for five years and Greater Manchester is one of six areas implementing it, with the whole scheme being jointly funded by Big Society Capital and Access – The Foundation for Social Investment.

Support will be offered to everything from new start-ups to existing organisations looking to scale up or take operations to the next level, but the priority will be funding those who tackle inequalities in their areas and who have a positive social or environmental impact.

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What has been said about the role of social enterprises?

Anwar Ali OBE is one of the Proper Good programme leads and has been running Upturn Enterprise, which does everything from help people back into work and support those struggling to succeed to offering businesses ethical recruitment and consultancy services, for some 20 years.

He said there is a tremendous potential for social enterprises to do good in Greater Manchester but they need backing.

The Oldham social entrepreneur said: “We want to work with anyone who has a proper good idea or existing social business. Our region is full of hugely talented people who need no-nonsense advice and support - as well as investment - to take them to the next level.

“We’ve created the programme we wished we’d had when we first started out on our business journeys and will be using our experiences to encourage people to think about how their businesses can be ‘social enterprises’ – where they are committed to improving communities – as well as profit margins.

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“There are lots of social businesses out there trying to do the right thing and if you go down south towards London the support for them is totally different.

“We’ve got a system that’s not quite working for everyone. Big business is doing great, smaller business is not doing so great. In Greater Manchester certain parts are thriving are not, and we need to rebalance the economy. Manchester city centre can’t be the answer to everything.

“There’s a huge opportunity here for social enterprises. They could work together with the public and private sectors and deliver big services and bid for contracts making sure we get the most out of them for local people.

“In construction, for example, that could mean we could build community wealth as it would ensure subcontractors are from the boroughs and tradesmen get contracts.

“The younger generation is also being left a world that is quite different from the one we inherited and they are thinking socially a lot more. They care about the environmental impact and giving back.”

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What have politicians said about Proper Good?

Proper Good has received backing from Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham, who formally launched the new scheme at a virtual event.

He said: “This programme sums up how we can make Greater Manchester a better place to live for everyone. You can’t look at economic progress in isolation - it has to go hand in hand with social progress, too.

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham

“This programme combines the best of both to empower communities to confront inequalities, poverty and build fairer economies that benefit all residents.

“Cross-sector partnerships are key to place-based regeneration and real levelling up – I look forward to seeing how these partnerships develop thanks to this programme over the next five years.”