Community Based Business Support

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What is the CBBS model?


The community based business support (CBBS) model

Building on existing capacity

The CBBS model, promoted by ACBBA, places emphasis on working with existing community organisations or community structures and existing networks in order to increase capacity and sustainability. It is the experience of these organisations or networks that is the foundation upon which the new business support function is introduced.

Working with embedded community organisations

Individuals some times regarded as ‘hard to reach’ can be included in the enterprise agenda through organisations that demonstrate a real presence in the communities in which they operate. Embedded organisations have access to a loyal constituency of users, offer a range of services and show a willingness to consider new service areas, such as business support. The embedded nature of the community organisations translates into trust, recognition and goodwill within the community, all of which are essential for the CBBS model to work.

Developing high calibre business advisors

The development as business advisers of a group of local people working in grassroots organisations is the fundamental objective of the CBBS model.

Community based business advisers must have motivation, a track record of local service provision and a reasonable level of education. The role also calls for a level of influence within the community organisation to ensure the business advice function attracts organisational support and is not marginalised. The expectation is that community based business advisers will also be acting as agents for change within their organisations, promoting entrepreneurial solutions such as the social enterprise route.

The programme of support for community based business advisers seeks to develop a set of skills that are both generic and business specific. Generic skills include team working, communication and general management skills. Business specific skills include [business counselling]], business planning, marketing, financial and IT for business skills.

Prioritising for practical development

When implementing a CBBS project, emphasis is placed on demonstrable, visible progress in all areas of work. Outputs are delivered from the very start. What is unique about the CBBS model is not the presence of a training programme but a package of support including access to mentors, briefings, computer-based tools for business advisers, library resources, peer support and access to ongoing professional development.


Central to the CBBS model is brokerage with mainstream business support services. The aim is to ensure the best and most appropriate services are available to people from minority ethnic and other disadvantaged communities. Business advisers need to have up to date knowledge of the services available locally. They need to know personally most of the people who actually provide those services. Local providers are involved in the development programme from the start.

Association of Community Based Business Advice: