SWEF Enterprise and business grants

SWEF enterprise and business grants of up to £2,000 to young people in Dorset for support with business start-up costs

SWEF Enterprise and business grants

The SWEF enterprise and business fund awards grants of up to £2,000 to young people in Dorset who need support with business start up costs that they would otherwise not be able to afford, and particularly those who are not in education, employment or training. This is not a loan scheme and recipients do not need to pay the grant back.


You can apply if you:

  • are aged 18 to 30
  • currently live in the county of Dorset
  • are from a low income household or facing other challenges preventing you from developing your business
  • are running a business that has been trading for under two years (including those about to start a new business)

Application Process

If you meet the above criteria you can apply for a grant of up to £2,000, regardless of your background or how well you did in education. The grant can be used for equipment, materials, stock or services you need in order to get your business running or support the development of the business. You cannot apply for your salary or living costs.

If you ask for £500 or less and are successful, you will be able to re-apply for a second grant at a later stage. Very early stage businesses should consider if an initial smaller grant is helpful, before applying for a larger amount.

We need you to tell us about your business in your application form, and how a grant would help you to make it more successful or support start up costs. Please provide a breakdown of specific costs to help us understand how you would use the grant, with weblinks if appropriate. Avoid general terms like ‘marketing’ that do not provide enough detail about how you will spend the grant.

We need a reference to support your application. Your referee should be a person who can tell us about your character or abilities and can confirm your circumstances. It might be a tutor, support worker or someone who you have worked for.  You will need to ask your referee to complete a reference form (see below) and return it to us.

We also need you to send us a copy of a recent bank statement (no more than three months old) to confirm your account details, should you be successful. We can only pay grants into a business bank account that matches the business name in your application – if you don’t have a business bank account yet, please let us know.

We may also invite you to a meeting (either online or in person) to tell us more details about your business.  If this is the case, we will email you to arrange a date and time.

How to apply

Please make sure you have read the above guidance before you apply.

To apply, please:

  • download the application form here, complete it and send by email to grants@dorsetcf.org
  • include a copy of a recent bank statement, which we will need to confirm your bank details, if you are successful
  • include any additional documents if you want to, such as your business plan
  • Ask your referee to download the reference form here, complete it and by email to grants@dorsetcf.org

What happens next

  • We will confirm that we have received your application within 5 working days.
  • We aim to contact you within the following 3 weeks after discussing your application with colleagues at South West Enterprise Fund. You may be invited to meet with us (usually online) to discuss your business in more detail.
  • We aim to make a final decision within 6 weeks.
  • If you are awarded a grant, it will be paid directly to you by bank transfer – we can only pay grants into a business bank account that matches the business name in your application, so if you don’t have a business bank account yet you will be asked to set one up
  • You need to spend your grant within one year and provide feedback six months and 12 months after you received the grant.

All those awarded a grant will have an opportunity to take part in a business forum with other grant recipients to exchange ideas, experiences and questions. One to one business mentoring may also be possible, provided by a relevant local agency able to provide this.

Sources of support

The following organisations may be able to help you with developing your business idea and preparing a business plan, and may also provide ongoing business development support:

If you have any questions, please get in touch with us by emailing grants@dorsetcf.org or call grants manager Ellie Maguire on 07592 032666

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