Social enterprise– investment in individuals and organizations committed to transforming institutions, communities, and society– often requires support at multiple levels and stages to ensure success. From funding to network building to evaluation of impact, here are nine ways the expanding field of social entrepreneurship continues to support and grow innovation.
Building Foundations: Skoll Foundation invests in, connects, and celebrates social enterprise and innovators through a wide range of activities and channels for individuals and the broader community, including the annual Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship.
Global Connections: Through living stipends, professional support networks, and access to a global network of peers, Ashoka supports individual social change leaders in over 60 countries at all phases of their professional careers with systemic change-level ideas for the world’s most pressing problems. Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship identifies the world’s leading social entrepreneurs across sectors and in partnership with leading institutions, including the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum.
Fellow Ventures: Echoing Green offers competitive early-stage seed funding for visionary leaders with bold ideas for social change who are identified through a rigorous selection and screening process. The two-year fellowships provide emerging leaders and their organizations technical support and assistance, and network connections to engaged, passionate, and informed social entrepreneurs. Draper Richards Foundation annually supports a group of six social innovators in their efforts to launch new nonprofit ventures with potential to provide learnings for the field as well as solve existing social problems in an large-scale manner.
Targeted Aims: Acumen Fund invests in international nonprofit and for-profit “bottom of the pyramid” social enterprises for the poor and underserved. C.E.O. Women creates economic opportunities while developing entrepreneurship skills for low-income immigrant and refugee women through intensive mentoring, coaching and access to capital needed to start a small business.
Next Generation: New Profit supports a multi-year financial and strategic portfolio of social entrepreneurs working in education, workforce development, and youth-focused development among other areas. Sparkplug Foundation concentrates seed activity on one-time grants for new nonprofits and new ideas within existing nonprofits around music, education and teaching, and grassroots organizing.
Social Capitals: Calvert Foundation: Using the power of investment capital and industry due diligence to enable a portfolio of high impact sustainable and scalable social enterprises to address critical social needs. Good Capital increases the flow of capital to innovative ventures by creating market-based solutions to inequality and poverty through solid investments in for-profit and nonprofit social enterprises.
Transformative Connections: RSF Social Finance offers framework for investment in nonprofit and for-profit social ventures across food and agriculture, education and the arts, and ecological stewardship, to bring about systemic and personal change in the financial marketplace. Root Cause, a nonprofit entrepreneurship incubator, develops alternative frameworks for entrepreneurs, funders, researchers, and advocates to connect, grow and sustain social benefit ventures in the civic and community sphere.
Advising Innovation: Social entrepreneurs and their supporters also benefit from a variety of other services that inform strategic growth and development. Nonprofit Finance Fund connects nonprofits and their funders with loans, lines of credit, asset building programs, and financial consulting and advisory services that map the impact of management decisions on their finances. SVT Group assists entrepreneurs and their funders with valuation and measurement of service and mission impact.
Competitive Edge: Changemakers gives emerging entrepreneurs a collaborative community space and opportunities to submit ideas through friendly “challenges” that address the world’s most pressing social problems. The World Bank Development Marketplace identifies and funds innovative, early-stage social ventures with high potential for development impact. Ideablob lets eligible entrepreneurs and small business owners across the US share their business ideas daily for a chance to win monthly prize money– based on online community voting from other innovators.
By continuing to benefit from an increasing range of creative solutions meeting their needs, social entrepreneurs can continue to provide effective, innovative, sustainable approaches to the world’s challenges.