OSEP, Aspire Oxfordshire, Co-operative Futures, and Community Action Groups (CAG) Oxfordshire are proud to announce a groundbreaking collaboration, securing a £35k grant from Oxford City Council through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund. The Fund aims to improve pride in place and increase life chances across the UK investing in communities and place, supporting local business, and people and skills. 

In a collective effort to drive positive social change through the Social Economy Growth Programme, OSEP, Aspire Oxfordshire, Co-op Futures, and CAG Oxfordshire have demonstrated a united commitment to nurturing a resilient and sustainable social economy in Oxford. 

The joint initiative, which will take place over 6 months, will be guided by a set of comprehensive aims and objectives designed to bolster Oxford’s social economy and foster positive impacts on the local economy, society, and environment. The key components of the project include:

Direct Support for Grass-Roots Community Businesses and Community Entrepreneurs:

The grant will be utilised to provide direct support to grass-roots community businesses and community entrepreneurs. This support aims to strengthen their foundations and enhance their capacity to contribute positively to the local economy, society, and environment.

Development of a Peer-led Support Group for the Social Trading Sector and Social Economy:

The programme will focus on the establishment of a peer-led support group for the social trading sector and social economy. This initiative aims to create a supportive community where knowledge and experiences can be shared, fostering growth and sustainability.

Local Funding Model Exploration:

The project will explore the development of a local funding model to ensure sustainability and resilience within the social economy. This innovative approach seeks to create a self-sustaining ecosystem that can support the growth of local enterprises. 

The collaboration of OSEP, Aspire Oxfordshire, Co-op Futures, and CAG Oxfordshire reflects a strategic alliance that maximises the collective impact of enterprising charities, social enterprises and purposeful businesses in Oxfordshire. In delivering this specialist support, the project will work closely with other, well-established partners, such as the Owned by Oxford partnership, to continue signposting to the wealth of mainstream support services and resources where appropriate, also available locally, demonstrating the power of collaboration in driving positive change and creating a more vibrant and sustainable social economy.

The project outputs and outcomes include;

Social and local businesses receiving non-financial support, potential entrepreneurs supported to be business ready, training sessions created for social economy success, socially excluded people accessing support.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Cabinet Member for Inclusive Economy and Partnerships said “At Oxford City Council, we are committed to making the local economy fairer for everyone. This initiative directly supports community businesses and entrepreneurs. In addition, the support for community focused start-ups comes from peers, rather than top-down.”  

Grant Hayward, Enterprise Manager at OSEP commented; “We’re delighted Oxford City Council has grasped this opportunity to reinforce the foresight and leadership they have shown over the past few years supporting and developing the social economy and initiatives that prioritise the well-being and prosperity of the local community.”

Alice Hemming, Co-operative Development Worker at Co-operative Futures added; “To grow a more inclusive social economy, we know that tailored business development support for start-up community businesses and social enterprises is vital. Co-operative Futures is pleased to be working in partnership on this project to provide this kind of support. We are planning to train and work alongside local social entrepreneurs and community members, so that they can start new businesses and take control of community assets.”

To find out more about the Social Economy Growth Programme, head to OSEP.org.uk