Time is running out for charities and businesses to apply for a free boost.

An Argus-backed scheme called SE-Assist will help five social enterprises in the Brighton and Hove area with interest-free loans and expert business advice.

The successful organisations will be mentored by top business advisors from Legal and General.

All applicants must be a non-profit-making social enterprise with a turnover of less than £500,000 per annum over the last three years. They must also demonstrate a positive impact on society in the city and must have a BN postcode.

Richard Wakeham, a mentor from Legal and General, said: “Having run my own business in the past I know how hard it can be to get started. Using that experience and my skills as a business analyst I hope to provide these entrepreneurs with the support needed to turn their plans into a real success.”

Jo Pearce, another mentor from Legal and General, said: “As a qualified coach I have experience of coaching within Legal and General and have been waiting for an opportunity like this to come along for a while. It’s a great chance for me to use those skills to help others in a different type of business environment.”

Funding for the scheme comes from Legal and General and the Innovation In Giving Fund, financed by the Cabinet Office and managed by Nesta.

Jonathan Gill, the corporate advisory manager at the Charities Aid Foundation, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to gain some much-needed finance as well as expert business advice.

“As well as supporting social enterprises, we want to raise their profile. We hope that SE Assist will provide an opportunity to better understand the social good that social enterprises deliver.”

Applications for this round of SE Assist are now open to charities and social enterprises in Brighton and Hove. The closing date is Friday.

For more information, including how to apply, go to www.se-assist.co.uk.