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Increasing Sustainability

Homeless Link has run funding programmes and other activities to help our members build social enterprises and find business models to become sustainable in the long term.

Enterprise Development Programme

The Enterprise Development Programme, funded by Access, is a bespoke learning programme and peer network. It aims to support organisations who are working to end homelessness through early stage ideation, testing, developing or growing their trading activity, and includes grants of up to £30,000 plus financial peripatetic support.

Social Investment Fund

Our Social Investment Fund, operating since 2017 with funding from Access, the Foundation for Social Investment, enabled us to offer blended finance options for homelessness focused organisations, offering a mixture of 80% loan and 20% grant. Investees were able to develop and scale up social enterprise activity or to improve their sustainability.

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Enterprise Development Action Research

A new fund in July 2023 will explore the themes and issues raised in our research into the employment of people with lived experience by social enterprises.

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Fairness in Enterprise

This recent research and toolkit helps homelessness services to think through how they can employ people with lived experience of homelessness, without straying into areas of exploitation.

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People Hugging

Different revenue models

Homeless Link have been working with social enterprises and charities to support them to diversify or grow new income streams. Social enterprises are businesses that exist to create social or environmental impact, in addition to generating profit. One area of focus for many social enterprises working across issues of homelessness is providing employment opportunities for individuals.

We have gathered some case studies that explore some of the revenue models employed by social enterprises or charities which trade. Across different trading activities (I.e. coffee shops, upcycling, space hire etc) several different revenue models may occur. We are interested in how social enterprises that support people experiencing homelessness make an income and why certain models are preferred by different organisations.

Example revenue models

Amongst our Enterprise Development cohorts, we can see numerous examples of revenue models, including:


Some social enterprises partner with other businesses or organisations to generate revenue. For example, a social enterprise that provides catering services may partner with a local event venue to provide food for all events held at that venue or a social enterprise supporting homeless artists might partner with a hotel to sell and showcase the art.


Social enterprises that employ homeless individuals may be eligible for grants from government agencies or trusts and foundations. These grants may be used to fund specific projects or to support ongoing operations but most commonly to cover costs of the support or impact element of the business model.


Some social enterprises rely on donations from individuals, businesses, or foundations to support their operations. These enterprises may have a charitable component, where a portion of profits or donations go towards supporting homeless individuals in addition to providing employment.

Service provision

Some social enterprises employ homeless individuals to provide services to other businesses or consumers. For example, a catering company may employ people experiencing homelessness to prepare and deliver food to events. Alternatively, a social enterprise may provide cleaning, landscaping, or other services.

Products and/or sales

Many social enterprises that employ homeless people operate as retailers, selling things directly to ‘’consumers". These enterprises may produce items such as clothing, accessories, or most commonly, second hand or upcycled products. By selling products, the enterprise generates revenue to support its operations or fund its social impact work.

Revenue model case studies

Coffee shops are a great model for social enterprises and can demonstrate several of these different revenue models.

Regardless of the revenue model employed, social enterprises that employ homeless individuals have the potential to make a significant impact. By providing employment opportunities or training, these enterprises can help individuals experiencing homelessness gain stability, confidence, and a sense of purpose. Additionally, by generating revenue, social enterprises can continue to expand their impact and create a sustainable business model that benefits both employees and the wider community.

See below for some case studies including deeper insights into the various revenue models used by our cohorts.

This Much We Know Podcast series

These podcasts are aimed at charity professionals and entrepreneurs to explore and understand some motivations, challenges, and potential models to use to build social enterprise in a homelessness setting. We meet with social entrepreneurs to better understand their stories and background that has led them to developing socially minded businesses which support those vulnerable in our communities. 

We hope you enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed making them. 

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