The Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge will bridge the gap between venture philanthropists seeking financial and social impact AND well-vetted social enterprises that can deliver double bottom line returns. After integrating due diligence reviews, mentoring and business plan/pitch development, the Challenge will showcase the most promising social entrepreneurs to a select audience of impact investors.
Traditional methods of solving chronic social issues have failed to move the needle to end poverty in America. Leaders from all sectors are calling for new approaches, especially ventures that blend the best of what each sector offers. Social enterprises do just that- using market-driven mechanisms to address social problems ranging from environmental clean up to employing ex-offenders to bringing fresh produce to neighborhood “food deserts”.
The SocEnt Challenge seeks to re-direct expertise and money which has historically been locked in conventional financial markets into social enterprises that build healthy communities. Last year’s pilot program drew over 60 ventures, addressing social needs in education, technology, homelessness, environment, urban revitalization, veterans’ needs, and health. Drawing on you and other colleagues to help us spread the word, our goal is an even more diverse and vital pool this year. Examples of already-identified ventures are recycling bicycles, producing clothing for cancer survivors, serving as brokers for sustainably caught seafood and super effective STEM programming.
Contestants may be for-profit, not-for-profit or hybrid early stage social enterprises. We are seeking ventures that have a proven concept, indicated by either having been in operation for at least three months and having begun selling their product or by having outside investors. We seek ventures that:
• Directly address a particular social problem
• Influence systems, not just symptoms of the problem
• Have a proven leadership team
• Project significant social and financial returns
• Prioritize social impact over financial gain for its owners
Details are at www.socentchallenge.org and applications are due by October 30th. I seek your counsel on ways to publicize it. At a minimum, I hope you will share the attached announcement with associates. Also, please let me know about anyone that might want some kind of sponsorship role- we are seeking talent and treasure!