SWEF Enterprise Fund

SWEF enterprise grants of up to £2,000 for young people running new businesses

SWEF Enterprise Fund

The SWEF Enterprise 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 costs that they would otherwise not be able to afford. Grants are used to help the business make a transformational change, or take a significant step forward in it’s development. 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. The amount that we can consider for a grant will reflect where your business is currently at. A grant request of £2,000 will usually only be awarded to businesses with a clear track record of trading successfully for some time. Very early stage businesses should consider if an initial smaller grant is helpful, before applying for a larger amount. If you are successful with a smaller award, 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 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

  • Equipment that will help a business bring in a second revenue stream
  • Equipment that will help a business increase production where there is proven demand
  • Materials/stock for a new product line
  • Prototypes
  • Website/booking system build
  • Training
  • Product development
  • Other business costs that will make significant impact

Ineligible use of Funds

  • Salary or living costs
  • Debt repayment
  • Rent and utilities
  • Stock for an existing product line
  • Ongoing software subscriptions
  • New computers, phones, tablets
    NB On a match funded basis, we can consider applications for refurbished technology. However, in order for this to be considered, you will need to:
    – Explain why the laptop, tablet or phone will transform their business.
    – Provide a link to the refurbished item with an explanation of why they need this piece of specific technology.

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). You should be ready and able to use the grant straight away, if you are successful.

How to apply

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

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

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.
  • We will ask you for informal feedback 6 months after the grant is awarded, and for a formal feedback form after 12 months.

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:

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