The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has launched a £1.5m programme to support social and community enterprise in rural areas.
The programme, which is designed to tackle social exclusion, will be managed by a consortium including Co-operatives UK, the Plunkett Foundation, and rural charities group ACRE.
Between now and March 2006, approximately 100 projects will be financed.
Funding will vary from support for small community groups and larger grants to establish social enterprises. Four regions of England which have a large number of areas with high levels of deprivation will receive the money.
Rural affairs minister Alun Michael said: "Social enterprises deliver high-quality, lower-cost products and services, and they create real opportunities for the communities. This initiative is evidence of our commitment to put the needs of rural people at the heart of policy making."