South West Enterprise Fund

The South West Enterprise Fund awards grants of up to £2,000 to young people in Dorset for support with business start-up costs

South West Enterprise Fund

The South West Enterprise 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.


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
  • have 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. 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.

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.

We 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 also 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 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.

If you receive a grant

If you are awarded a grant, it will be paid directly to you by bank transfer. 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.

How to apply

The next round is now open and closes on June 17.

  • Applications received by April 30 will receive a decisions in mid-May.
  • Subsequent applications will receive a decision in early July.

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

To apply, please:

  • download an application form, complete and return it by email to by the deadline above – the application form is available to download HERE.
  • 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 complete a reference form and return it to us by the deadline above – the reference form is available to download HERE.

You may be invited to meet with us (either online or in person) to discuss your business in more detail if we need more information before we can make a decision. We will email you if this is the case.

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, then please get in touch with us by emailing or call grants manager Ellie Maguire on 07592 032666

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