If you’re an entrepreneur looking for ways to get your idea off the ground, finding social entrepreneur funding is one of the best ways to go. Although identifying social investors and convincing them of the benefits of your concept can be a challenge, the rewards of starting such a campaign and seeing the results are tremendous. To get you started, we’ve got here a great guide to finding social entrepreneur grants and loans so that you can bring your concept to fruition and make the world a better place.
What is a social enterprise?
Though we’ve already discussed the general concept of social entrepreneurism on Green Marketing TV, giving a brief reminder will help to set the stage for the remainder of this article. Social entrepreneurs are those people who bring innovative and dynamic concepts to life to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
Social enterprises spring up to take the place of individuals and governments who have failed to address these issues to fill the gap, clean things up, and make the world safer, healthier, kinder, and more friendly.
Navigating the world of social entrepreneurship grants
Getting money for your social enterprise should start in the area of social grants. These types of funds usually come from specialized organizations, nonprofits, and foundations who are focused in particular social areas such as the environment, education, or health. You usually will be required to fill out a funding application, present a business plan and case statement, and go through an interview process to ensure that your cause is in line with that of the funding organization. To get you started, check out the following resources in the area of social enterprise grants.
- Access Community Capital Fund: Develops economic support for self-employment enterprises.
- Ashoka: Ashoka makes investments in people leading in the world of social entrepreneurship.
- ClearySo Investment: List your social enterprise here to be found by organizations looking for groups to fund.
- Community Power Fund: Supports development activities working on renewable energy projects.
- MasterCard Foundation: Enables people to improve their lives through microfinance and education.
- Schwab Foundation: Provides funding for social entrepreneurship programs.
- TD Financial Literacy Grant Fund: Provides grants to charitable and nonprofit organizations serving low-income persons and groups in Canada.
- The Skoll Awards for Social Entrepreneurship: The Skoll foundation awards notable social enterprises for achievements in tolerance and human rights, health, economic and social equity, peace and security, institutional responsibility, and environmental sustainability.
- Wiser Earth: Check out their extensive list of organizations working with social enterprises,including funding agencies and lenders.
Getting started with social entrepreneurship loans
In addition to grants given by various foundations and fund agencies, there are also many new social venture investors popping up around the world looking for social enterprises in which to invest through loans. These funders provide financial aid to social entrepreneurs by lending money that is required to be paid back, but usually at very low interest rates.
Here is a list of organizations providing funding opportunities through loans to social entrepreneurs:
- Bridges Ventures: A UK organization providing social investments for UK businesses working on social issues.
- Calvert Special Equities Program: Provides funding for high risk enterprises engaged in social and environmental projects.
- CGAP Microfinance: Provides loans, savings, and money transfer services and microinsurance for individuals and groups.
- Citizen Capital: A French venture capital fund working with social businesses and enterprises.
- Kiva: Connects lenders and social entrepreneurs through a web platform that enables peer to peer lending. Lenders can browse profiles of entrepreneurs in other countries and decide who they want to support. While funds are paid back over time, the loans themselves do not earn interest.
- Tandem Fund: An organization that invests in Asian social enterprises that focus on health, food, water, and distribution.
- TD Community Giving: Gives financial support for education and financial literacy.
- UEnd:Poverty: An organization that helps individuals give money to social enterprises around the world.
Learn more through social enterprise incubators
One of the best ways to grow your social enterprise is to get involved with a social enterprise incubator. These groups help to accelerate the development social enterprises by providing business support services and resources, expert guidance, and access to a network of contacts. Working with one of these business incubators will significantly increase the chances that your social enterprise will succeed in the long run, and is therefore highly recommended. To find a social enterprise incubator that best fits your mission and goals, check out the following organizations:
- Asian Social Enterprise Incubator
- Global Social Benefit Incubator
- NYWSE Incubator Program
- GoodCompany Ventures
- Social Enterprise Rhode Island – Change Accelerators
- The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs
There’s a lot to learn about social entrepreneurship ideas and the funding opportunities available beyond working with a social enterprise incubator. For that, there are now numerous organizations who are there to help you find your way through what can often be considered a confusing and complex process. Here you’ll find forums, seminars, events, advisors, consultants, blogs, and other educational tools focused on social enterprise incubation and development:
- Canadian Centre for Financial Literacy: Money management training for low-income groups.
- CGAP Microfinance Gateway: Find training, events, jobs, and a resources library regarding microfinancing.
- ClearySo businesses: A network of companies supplied social businesses and enterprises, including those that give discounts for ClearySo members.
- European Baha’i Business Forum – Social Entrepreneurship: Ideas and forums for social enterprises and their leaders.
- Funding Roadmap: This is a software program is an electronic business plan and due diligence reporting system that is offered at a discount to social entrepreneurs.
- Gaebler.com: An extensive list of resources for social entrepreneurship, including articles, websites, and more.
- ISIS Research Centre: Provides education and professional support for new Canadian business leaders developing businesses to solve social, economic, political, environmental, and cultural solutions.
- Root Cause Social Innovation Forum: Offers business planning consulting and strategy services to nonprofits, social corporations, government agencies, and foundations.
- Social Edge: A community for people interesting in finding social entrepreneur opportunities and advice.
- Social Enterprise Coalition: Promotes social enterprises through best practices, policy changes, and research.
- SocialEarth: Find information and expert advice on locating social venture funding in all areas of social enterprise.
- The Aspen Institute: Helps to foster values-based leadership through leadership programs and policy programs.
- The Hub: An ecosystem of people, places, and ideas focused on optimism and social change.
- United Way: This New Mexico office provides seminars and education for social entrepreneurs.
Tapping into the world of social enterprise funding is extremely important if you want to achieve great things for your cause. Success in this area of social entrepreneurship will bring you great rewards and help you improve the planet, your community, and the health of human beings. Don’t let these funding opportunities pass you by!