If you are running a young social enterprise or looking to start one, a pit stop at a social enterprise incubator or accelerator program may be all you need to kick start your business. Many of these programs provide social entrepreneurs with the opportunity to meet seasoned entrepreneurs and mentors, get advice, refine the business model, receive start-up capital, or pitch the business to potential investors.
Echoing Green’s Fellowship program is specifically for start-ups under two years old or for those who have yet to start an organization (either non-profit or for-profit). The two-year program provides each social entrepreneur with a stipend of $80,000 (or $90,000 for each two-person partnership). A competitive program, only 12-20 Echoing Green Fellows are selected each year from a group of over 2,500 applicants. Fellows receive a health insurance stipend, a yearly professional development stipend, conferences led by organizational development experts, access to technical support and pro bono partnerships to grow their organizations, one-to-one support and counseling, and a community of like-minded social entrepreneurs and public service leaders, including Echoing Green’s network of nearly 500 alumni from around the world.
Important dates and cost – Application dates are announced in fall each year and applications begin in late fall/early winter. This year, phase one of the application opens in early December 2012, and Fellows are announced in June 2013. There is no cost to apply.
Santa Clara University’s Global Social Benefit Incubator launched 10 years ago to help social entrepreneurs build their businesses and amplify their impact. Their focus has been to connect entrepreneurs with successful Silicon Valley executives, academic leaders, and mentors to build social ventures with strong business models. Approximately 20 social entrepreneurs are invited to the campus each year to participate in the five-month program through a scholarship valued at $25,000.
Important dates and cost – Typically, information to apply for this program is announced in October and applications begin in December. There is no application fee.
Based in Philadelphia, GoodCompany accepts for-profit companies that can provide private investors with attractive social and financial returns. The founders of GoodCompany want to promote sustainable business models where social impact is integral to what the company does. GoodCompany Residency is their incubator program which gives socially- and environmentally-motivated start-ups affordable workspace, meetings with potential partners and investors, and mentorship and training. GoodCompany Ventures is their intensive three-month program designed to accelerate the growth of social enterprise start-ups. This is done by providing entrepreneurs with access to industry experts, mentors, and VC firms and angel investors. At the end of the program these companies will pitch their ideas to potential investors.
Important dates and cost – Each year, the Early Decision deadline is in mid-April and the Incubator begins in June. The program is free but candidates must be able to attend sessions in Philadelphia.
Based in San Francisco, Hub Ventures is a 12-week accelerator program that supports start-up teams with the potential for scale, profitability, and significant measurable impact. They generally work with technology companies that are developing solutions to domestic and global challenges, ranging from poverty to climate change, but do consider non-tech businesses as long as they focus on impact and can scale. Companies receive up to $20,000 in seed funding in exchange for an average equity stake of 6%. They look for start-ups at all stages with at least two co-founders. A total of 8-10 startups will be selected for the program from 25-30 finalists.
Important dates and cost – This year, the early application deadline is October 31, 2012 and final application deadline is December 10, 2012. The program begins March 11, 2013. There is no cost to apply.
Based in Boulder, Colorado, the Unreasonable Institute gathers 10-30 entrepreneurs from around the world each year and connects them with 50 world-class mentors, 25 capital funds, and over 100 angel and other investors under one roof for six weeks. These entrepreneurs form relationships with investment funds, receive legal advice and design consulting, and pitch their ventures to potential investors at the end of the program. The goal is to accelerate these ventures so they can scale to meet the needs of at least one million people each.
Important dates and cost – The 2013 Institute will run from June 12 – July 24, 2013 and are accepting applications until October 25, 2012. The program costs $10,000 for one entrepreneur or $12,000 per team of two.
Which other social enterprise incubators and accelerators do you know? Add them in the comments below.
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