Tag Archives: venture philanthropy

Another successful year for ForSE 2009

Another successful conference on Social Entrepreneurship was held on October 23rd, this time at Babson College in Boston’s Wellesley suburb. Details on the conference and photos were posted in a local e-magazine, Lokvani.com and are reproduced below for those who could not attend. Continue reading

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World’s largest Business plan competition looks to help social entrepreneurs

To help jumpstart job growth in Massachusetts, a unique public/private partnership, Masschallenge.org, was launched earlier this year. By unveiling what it claims is the world’s largest business plan competition; the folks at MassChallenge are hoping to attract hundreds if not thousands of interested entrepreneurs. While most business plan competitions have been university based in the past, MassChallenge intends to go mainstream with entries accepted from all quarters. With the intent of raising serious money – a target of $25 Million for the first year – it hopes to change the way plans are run by providing the winning teams with $1 million in seed funding. It hopes to run six parallel competitions in the following areas:

  • Healthcare, and Life Sciences
  • IT, Software, and Gaming
  • Clean Technology and Energy
  • Social Development and Non-profit
  • Open Category, Seed Stage
  • Open Category, Expansion Stage

The one on Social Development and Non-profit caught my eye as it is along the lines of what we have been discussing on this blog. As I had said in some of my earlier posts, early stage social innovators sorely need a jumpstart as they face a tougher time raising funds than a for-profit. More importantly, Massachusetts has grown to be a focal point for social innovation attracting the best and brightest to the exciting programs offered in all the leading universities. Coupled with the incentives from MassChallenge and the Massachusetts Government, we have the opportunity to create a new growth cluster in the state. We have an opportunity to retain the top talent attracted to the programs in the area and to channel them to building the next generation of innovative social enterprises here in Boston.

I recently wrote a more detailed article for the MassChallenge.org blog that outlines this and am excerpting it below. Continue reading

Valuing Social Enterprises

Panel Description for ForSE 2009

As a number of young entrepreneurs launch their social enterprises, one of the areas they all struggle with is attracting socially conscious investors. A challenge for all is how to evaluate a social focused business on metrics other than strict return on investment. A number of innovative organizations have tackled this problem from different perspectives, developing alternate metrics, scorecards and criteria that weigh the benefits from an investment beyond cold dollars and cents. The panelists, all significant actors in this arena, either invest or provide access to social investors and will highlight several interesting approaches that funders use in evaluating social investments.

Panelists

Moderator

  • Prof. John Whitman, Professor, Babson College

Register for ForSE 2009 before rates go up!

ForSE 2009: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on Oct 23 at Babson College

Once again we are holding our annual conference on Social Entrepreneurship – ForSE 2009: Forum for Social Entrepreneurs on Friday October 23. This time we are working together with Babson College’s Net Impact Undergrad organization to host it at Olin Hall on Babson College’s lovely Wellesley campus.

We also have a number of interesting panels and speakers and, for the first time, a Pitch contest that will allow emerging social entrepreneurs to wow a panel of seasoned judges.

The forum brings together social innovators, leading business professionals, investors, donors, academics, and students to help share new technology and business ideas that have significant social impact.

If you are interested in meeting emerging social entrepreneurs, hearing of innovative ideas for social impact and supporting young innovators as they launch their concepts, this is the event to attend. If you are an aspiring social entrepreneur, this is your chance to pitch your idea at the pitch contest and to wow a panel of seasoned judges.

This years keynoters will include Pamela Hawley who was a co-founder of Volunteer Match, one of the earliest online volunteer matching sites, and who later founded and currently runs UniveralGiving.org, an online site that channels donations and volunteer hours to non-profits around the world; Leonard Schlesinger, President of Babson College, one of the leaders in entrepreneurship; Andre Porter, Executive Director of Massachusetts’ Office of Small Business and Entrepreneurship; and Carol Cone, Founder and Chairperson of Cone LLC, an innovator in Cause Branding and CSR programs for corporations.

We have tried to keep ForSE very affordable for our attendees, many of whom are students or starting non-profits and social entrepreneurs. The registration fee for attendees is nominal ($20 for students /$35 for affiliates of BU and TIE /$/75 for all others) for a full day conference including meals. However these discounted fees will only be available only until October 19th.

I urge you to sign up as soon as possible as the past two years we sold out days before the event and many were disappointed. We try to make the event as interactive and intimate as possible and keep total attendance capped to 250. If you are interested in attending I would encourage you to register soon. The fees will go up substantially after October 19th.

Click here for more info and to register.

Why we need Social Investors

The latest Time Magazine has a great article about social entrepreneur Reed Paget and his startup Belu that has grown from $13,000 in 2004 to nearly $4 million in 2008 while providing water in corn based bottles that can be composted and redeploying its profits to projects that bring clean water to deserving regions of the world.

In the article Paget says it was important “to remove the ‘We must maximize profit’ from our management system.” His objective is to provide maximal social and environmental benefit, like social businesses defined by Yunus. However the challenge for him is finding socially motivated investors. Over the past several years he has managed to raise $2.5 Million in 32 painstaking rounds of funding. Even environmental charities like Greenpeace do not see it in their purview to fund startups like his.

This is a classic example of the type of opportunity that makes business and social sense but is left hanging as there are not enough socially motivated investors willing to take this early stage risk. As we mentioned in earlier posts, this new market segment badly needs socially conscious investors who are willing to support early stage companies and to take a lower economic rate of return in exchange for greater social/environmental impact. Like Belu, many socially motivated businesses struggle with fundraising expending precious resources in multiple rounds of incremental funding instead of focusing on building and scaling their businesses.