SWEF Enterprise and Business Fund

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 Fund

The SWEF enterprise and Business Fund awards grants of up to £2,000 to young people in Dorset who are running an early stage business and need support with business start up costs that they would otherwise not be able to afford. We prioritise young people 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 financial challenges preventing you from developing your business
  • are running a sole trader/limited company business that has been trading for under two years
  • have a business bank account

Applications solely for ‘business ideas’ will not be considered. You must be able to demonstrate that you have already taken steps to get your business off the ground, even if this is at a very early stage. This could be making your first sales or free/pro bono work delivered in order to develop examples of your work.

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. 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 enable you to take your business to the next stage.

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.

What can I apply for

The grant can be used for equipment, materials, product development, stock, one-off costs such as a website build, or other services. You cannot apply for your salary or living costs.

The grant cannot be used for brand new computers, tablets and phones. However, applications for refurbished technology will be considered in the following circumstances

  • you are able to make a contribution towards the cost of the item/s
  • you are able to explain why the refurbished laptop, tablet or phone will transform your business
  • you are able to provide a weblink to the item/s and describe why this has been chosen

Whatever you would like to use the grant for, you will need to provide a breakdown of how you would use the grant, with specific costs and including weblinks or quotes where possible. Avoid general terms like ‘marketing’ that do not provide enough detail about how you will spend the grant. Applications for ‘match funding’ are particularly welcome – this means that you already have some funding but need an additional contribution).

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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