Social Enterprise Support Programme

Oxford Hub's Social Enterprise Support Programme is a menu of grants, training and mentoring for students and university staff who wish to set up a social enterprise, are looking to develop an existing enterprise, or simply have an idea for a project with a positive social impact.

Try It and Do It Award applications are now open


Try It and Do It Award applications are now open!

We've extended the award deadlines until Monday 16th May!

Try It Awards include a grant of up to £500. They are designed for small scale projects and enable social entrepreneurs to investigate or develop a social venture idea e.g run a pilot programme or undertake some market research. A Try It Award also allows you to apply for a Do It Award in the future.


Do It Awards include a grant of up to £5000 and ongoing practical support over 12 months. They are designed to provide a cash injection for demonstrably viable projects. Applicants must have successfully applied for a Try It award in the past or have experience in setting up or working for a social enterprise.



Do you have an idea for a social enterprise?

Whether you have a vague idea for a project or a fully fledged social enterprise, we can help you make your idea a reality, provide the support to enable you to expand an existing enterprise or offer the support and guidance to help you get your idea off the ground.

Two different types of awards are available: Try It grants of up to £500 and Do It grants of up to £5000. Social enterprises at any stage of their development are welcome to apply. Applications from those with ideas at the early stages of development are particularly encouraged for the 'Try it' grants.

Try It awards are designed for small scale projects and enable social entrepreneurs to investigate or develop a social venture idea e.g run a pilot programme or undertake some market research.

Do It Awards are designed to provide a cash injection for demonstrably viable projects, allowing them to develop their service or product and become fully sustainable.

We also offer one-to-one advice and guidance on all things social enterprise. If you have any questions or need some advice, please get in touch with Harry.

Since the social enterprise support programme began in 2013, 26 Oxford Students have been supported to establish a range of enterprises, from community cafes to soap recycling enterprises.


What is a social entrepreneur?

"Social entrepreneurs are individuals with innovative solutions to society’s most pressing social problems. They are ambitious and persistent, tackling major social issues and offering new ideas for wide-scale change. Rather than leaving society’s needs to the government or business sectors, social entrepreneurs find what is not working and solve the problem by changing the system, spreading the solution, and persuading entire societies to take new leaps.” Ashoka

A social entrepreneur comes up with and implements innovative and enterprising solutions to social problems.

Have you ever bought the Big Issue? Read it over a bar of Divine chocolate? Watched Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen? Visited the Eden Project? Shopped at the Co-op?

Well, then you already know a bit about social enterprises: businesses that are changing the world for the better!

Social enterprises are businesses that trade to tackle social problems, improve communities, people’s life chances, or the environment. They make their money from selling goods and services in the open market, but they reinvest their profits back into the business or the local community. And so when they profit, society profits.

Social enterprises can tackle a whole range of issues- from food waste, like the inspirational Rubies in the Rubble to unemployment, like Cultivate London and Bristol Together.

Other support in Oxford and beyond

For all types of Social Enterprise, from Co-ops to BenComs, there is a huge amount of support currently available in Oxfordshire. There are several local initiatives aimed at making sure projects have as much chance as possible at flourishing.

  • Oxfordshire Social Enterprise Partnership (OSEP)

Collaboration between Oxford’s universities and Student Hubs, aiming to be a one-stop-shop for social enterprises across the county. You can sign up for updates here. They offer a wide range of support, including mentoring, development, 1-to-1, networking and more - full details here.

  • Oxfordshire Business Support

This was set up in 2014 through the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). They provide a range of services, including: Business Support Advisors to help you find the right support for your venture; Network Navigators signposting to relevant support for your enterprise; funding and grants advice, from traditional funding to vouchers, loans and alternative finance; vouchers save up to 50% on training and research; workshops, conferences and social events.

  • Responsible Oxfordshire Business Involvement Network (ROBIN)

ROBIN is a network of like-minded people from businesses in Oxfordshire, keen to connect with, and support charities, groups, social enterprises and educational organisations. It continues to grow strongly, with over 500 people involved. ROBIN facilitates collaborations for sharing skills and resources creatively. These can be one-off opportunities, but so often lead to the development of closer relationships and further new opportunities and associations. Visit the website, sign up for updates here or join their LinkedIn group here.

The Skoll Centre: advancing social innovation to transform unjust systems

The Skoll Centre, based in the Launchpad at Saïd Business School, offers numerous learning and networking opportunities for those who care about tackling pressing social and environmental challenges. Find out how you can get involved with the Skoll Centre’s programmes by signing up to their weekly newsletter. Furthermore, Oxford entrepreneurs can use the Launchpad as a co-working space by registering online.