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The Enhance Social Enterprise (ESE) Programme - Stimulating the economy of the South West

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What was the Enhance Social Enterprise Programme?

The Enhance Social Enterprise (ESE) Programme was a £1.7million EU-funded business support programme that offered advice to new and established social enterprises in the Heart of the South West (HotSW) LEP area of Somerset, Devon, Torbay and Plymouth between 2017 and 2020. Devon County Council was the accountable body.

The programme aims were:

  •  increase the number of social enterprises in the region
  • help existing social enterprises develop and grow
  • support organisations transitioning to a social enterprise model
  • advise budding social entrepreneurs 
  • develop the ecosystem for social enterprise support by investing in the social enterprise networks in the region.
Beneficiaries at our ‘Make Your Community Hub Fit for the Future’ event held on 4 April 2019 at The Monks Yard, Ilminster, Somerset.

Beneficiaries were supported through:

  • one to one business support tailored to their business needs
  • workshops and webinars
  • events targeted at specific sectors.

What has the ESE Programme achieved?

Achievement statistics in a graph

What beneficiaries say about the ESE business support they have received

Information graph on What beneficiaries say about the ESE business support they have received

Creating a network of networks

An ESE Network was created to support social enterprise network development across Devon, Plymouth, Torbay and Somerset. It was a partnership led by Devon Communities Together.
By joining the Network social enterprises could:
  • have access to networking and training events
  • be added to an asset map of businesses in the Heart of the South West area
  • allow members of the public the use of the information to procure goods and services
nfographic of the use of Network
Smart Communities Ltd in Somerset and Torbay’s Local Spark, were only partially established prior to receiving funding through the ESE Programme. The funding has strengthened them and improved their longer-term sustainability.
Two large scale events were held as part of the ESE programme:
  • Community Wealth Building, held on Thursday 27 February 2020 on Transforming people and places – the evolving role of procurement and commissioning
  • September 2020 the ESE Network held a series of online events on the theme of building a better future through transformative social enterprise businesses.
These events brought together young entrepreneurs from Devon and Somerset with young people looking for new ways to engage with work.
As we begin to move out of the Covid-19 pandemic, social enterprises will play a vital role in our recovery and in building back better. ESE Delivery Partner, Gareth Hart of Iridescent Ideas says:

Social enterprises need to be right at the heart of new ideas and transformation that comes out of this crisis. We need a radical shift in the way we think about business and we need to move to a fairer economy. An economy where businesses create decent work and where the dividends of growth and prosperity are more equally shared. An economy that creates wellbeing and that enhances, not degrades the environment and creates inclusive prosperity

The Impact of Social Enterprises across the Heart of the South West

As part of the ESE Programme, CAG consultants were commissioned to:
  • work with social enterprises across the HotSW to find out how they measure their social impact
  • produce a report which concludes that the wealth and breadth of ways of recording and measuring social value make it difficult to collectively measure and record social value
As part of this piece of work CAG wrote text case studies and commissioned video case studies which offer some great individual examples of social enterprises and their added social value.
YouTube video of Horsemanship for Health case study
YouTube video of The Diversity Trust case study
For more case studies and to read the full ESE: Social Impact Final Report visit The Impact of Social Enterprises across the Heart of the South West - Economy and Enterprise (

Enhance Social Enterprise logo

 The Heart of the South West Enhance Social Enterprise Programme project is receiving up to £986,503 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit the guidance on England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds  - GOV.UK (

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