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22 March 2022

How the Enterprise Development Programme is making an inspiring Community Interest Company

Tim Soule
Relationship Manager

On a blustery, sunny March day, we were lucky enough to visit an inspiring Community Interest Company, The 180 Programme, in one of the most deprived areas of the country.

Formed in 2018, they successfully applied for a place on the Enterprise Development Programme (EDP) to support them with increasing trading income and help future-proof their organisation. They are currently halfway through the programme, which has provided them with a small grant, alongside a variety of business and development support.

EDP is funded by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, working with strategic sector partners and managed by Social Investment Business. It aims to support organisations build financial resilience and impact, by providing a mixture of grant and learning support, to help ideas off the ground or increase trading income for more established projects.

About The 180 Programme

Caroline Sagar is the CEO of The 180 Programme, a recovery programme which is one of the first of its kind in the UK that supports people to create healthy lifestyles by getting physically, mentally, emotionally well and socially connected. The 180 programme provides a cross-fit gym, based in an old mill in Darwen, Lancashire and supports individuals who have been in prison, been affected by crime or who have suffered from a form of addiction.

We spent the day with 180’s team to understand what it is like being part of a programme with likeminded organisations, as well as how a package of tailored support is benefitting them.

What does EDP support entail?

During our visit we met their Operations Manager Rachel, who discussed how crucial peripatetic financial support through EDP has been. This support, offers time with a financial professional who can upskill and develop an organisation’s  financial management, reporting and decision-making capabilities. “We moved from paper copies of accounts onto Xero accounting software recently, but if I’m honest we were fumbling around using it. The help we have received has been very supportive. Through EDP we have been able to practice budgets, use and track cost centres and now make business decisions based on clear, accurate information”.

Ffion, their Marketing and Communications Officer, spoke about the benefits of the programme “I’ve been amazed at the willingness facilitators have shown in wanting to help organisations. (The sessions) feed you information, allow you to interact with others and talk about your ideas. It has built my confidence and I feel it has given us more capacity in the team to achieve more”.

One of the biggest benefits of EDP is having access to a peer network and working with other organisations in similar sectors. Ffion explains “It’s given me a better understanding of what other good work other businesses are doing. I’ve had a platform to bounce around ideas and its enabled me to learn from different perspectives. People have been willing to give feedback on my ideas and how we can do things differently”. Their CEO was also positive on the benefits of working with others. “Organisations need challenging and provoking, which is what EDP has done. I found myself questioning whether I was doing something correctly after each session. It also pushed me into networking and connecting with people outside of my normal local authority area”.

Why should you apply to this programme?

“I would whole heartedly encourage you to apply” Caroline explains. “The process was clear, it asks relevant questions that some funders don’t ask and it’s easy to understand the stages of the programme. EDP shows an interest in what you are doing, and it allows you to think, is this programme right for you? What they offer isn’t just about receiving X amount of money, it is about capacity building support and expert guidance”.

Since being part of EDP, they’ve had numerous successes including an increase in people benefitting from their support, more referrals from GP’s and social prescribers, as well changing their trading model to include different types of memberships, which has resulted in a higher retention rate.

Rachel concludes by giving potential applicants a useful tip. “Be clear about what support you want from EDP and how it could drive your business forward. If you feel you can benefit from this support, just go and grab it!”.

Audio by 180 Project– EDP grantee 


For further details about EDP and how to apply please visit our website: https://www.enterprisedevelopmentprogramme.org.uk/ or contact the Grants Team at grants@sibgroup.org. You can also sign up to SIB’s newsletter for future updates on this and all of our programmes.

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