Incubators that are shaping social entrepreneurs into powerful change makers

Written accounts from Thomas Reuters Foundation have consistently ranked India amongst the globe’s most favorable countries for social entrepreneurship. And even better, the nation features in the top five about easy access to funding. Without a doubt, the aspects represent progress and good momentum in the sector. However, there are impediments to social innovation, some of which include limited public awareness, little government cooperation, recruitment of the right talent, and scaling sustainability. Presented below are organizations striving to equip start-ups in dealing with aforementioned concerns.

ALC India

Launched back in 2005 to corroborate small and medium social franchises, ALC India supports and provides capital to rural entrepreneurs. The company has so far amassed a wide array of clientele ranging from NGOs, agencies, microfinance institutions, consulting firms, state divisions, and community-based businesses.

UnLtd India

Headquartered in Mumbai, UnLtd India has been channeling efforts towards instilling enterprise mindsets, which obviously a key approach for the long term. It offers support to initial phase social entrepreneurs in three stages: the testing of the conception, advancing the pilot, and the scaling up of the established models. Mentoring and seed funding is tailored to cater for each stage.


Villgro is quite a unique incubator as it supports social enterprises by prototyping their ideations while providing go-to-market strategies.


Local social entrepreneurs flex muscles to meet global needs

Currently, rural areas in Uganda, Nepal, and other impoverished parts of the globe have resident natives utilizing handheld, solar powered gadgets that convert salty water into chlorine, a liquid form that can be used to clean dirty water and ensure it’s safe for consumption. The conception for the patent-pending implement stemmed from couple Patrick and Elizabeth Shores, who had initially thought of providing access to drinking water via a grassroots approach that collaborates/partners with locals. Their flagship product has two distinct features: its top is configured in a cup-like form while its bottom is a chlorine catch bottle. Undoubtedly, the partners have come up with a novel and yet sustainable solution to a global concern. More than twenty five countries are employing the sophisticated tool.

Smaller means more flexible

Social enterprise proponents are now beginning to understand that even though large scale charities can yield enormous change in developing/disaster-torn areas, smaller ideations could also be nimble

enough that they offer suitable solutions for overlooked regions. But in the case of the aforementioned project, Patrick Shores mentions that they opted for a device accessible to all after realizing the conventional clean water endeavors by large corporations, like for example digging wells, were surprisingly not making their way into rural areas either because of corruption or other incompetency issues.


The rise of disruption politics and radical social entrepreneurship

The ‘post-apartheid’ era in South Africa has been continually marred by concerns such as dispossession, oppression, and necessary resistance, all of which seem to be featuring in the day to day lives of citizens. These issues have manifested themselves in various forms including a high youth unemployment rate, increase in gender based atrocities, makeshift informal settlements, and nepotism. Political analysts in the region assert that the authoritarian and unequal systems that governed prior are still intact, though with different faces enacting them.

Currently across the globe, the youth are increasingly becoming more skeptical to economic and political orders which yield little improvement in their lives. South Africa is no exception in this movement; the country’s young generation are now resorting to the politics of disruption.

Disruptive politics has prevalently been expressed via movements such as #FeesMustFall amongst others which all in all, they are striving to accrue better delivery of services for the victims. It’s an aspect that’s transcended into a voice particularly for those residing in impoverished areas.

It is important to note however that the methodology does not solely entail a daring and hard-headed approach. It also requires sparks of brilliance which are brought in by interdisciplinary/diverse group working as a collective (radical social entrepreneurship).

The two forms of praxis are most effective when working hand in hand, in that disruptive politics can play the role of annihilating old models while radical social enterprise constructs the new.


Dare Inc. a social incubator on the rise in Morocco

A recent research expedition by the British Council and the Moroccan CISE (Moroccan Center for Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship) has revealed that the progression of social enterprise in Morocco is currently being orchestrated by a small circle of small organizations and young entrepreneurs. A perfect case study is Dare Inc., a social franchising incubator launched in 2015 by the Moroccan CISE. Via its flagship one year program, the company has been channeling efforts towards unraveling invaluable social startups capable of yielding domestic and foreign partnerships which ultimately contribute to Morocco’s socio-economic development. To be enrolled in the program, an early phase firm has to have a fixed income that guarantees sustainability and autonomy, while at the same time effectively catering to a social concern.

Tutoring student-entrepreneurs

Around seventy percent of trainees recruited at Dare Inc. are aged below 26 years, most of whom are still partaking in undergrad studies. Student engineer Youssef Chakroun is a perfect example of the incubator’s beneficiaries. His startup, dubbed as the Shems for Lighting, provides solar bulbs in areas without electricity coverage. Other notable conceptions that have been nurtured by the incubator program to become well-established businesses include Seaskin, a company converting fish waste to leather, and Amendy Foods which oversees the cultivation of Moroccan quinoa.


Africa social entrepreneurs to pitch for health funding in new program

Fourteen social enterprise proponents catering to maternal and child health issues in sub-Saharan Africa will receive funds from potential partners. The initiative will go through via the Healthymagination Mother and Child Program which is set to tutor and mentor entrepreneurs seeking to enhance maternal/child health outcomes in Africa.

The course, which was launched in March 2016 by the Miller Center of Social Entrepreneurship, is specifically tailored to assist organizations in attaining business core principles, improving their approach to strategizing, and polishing business plans to depict impact, growth, and long term sustainability.

The fourteen participants were chosen from Eastern, Western and Southern Africa countries including Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Botswana, following a rigorous process.

The kick-off workshop, which is the second since the expedition’s inception, will be conducted prior to a six-month online accelerator program which will feature comprehensive mentorship from Silicon Valley based CEOs as well as local franchise leaders. A “Premier Pitch” event will conclude the series, wherein the 14 organizations will showcase their respective businesses to a panel of potential investors. Some of businesses scheduled to present include SubQ Assist, Early Reach, Maternity Foundation, MDaaS, Neopenda, SevaMob, doctHERs, amongst others.

Healthymagination executive director Robert Wells notes of a key overriding theme: addressing local health concerns primarily requires locally-adapted innovations.

New Rollins partnership is Shark Tank for social entrepreneurs

In a bid to make Central Florida the country’s headquarters for social enterprise, local leaders recently unveiled a new expedition meant to facilitate tutorship, mentorship, legal advice, and funding to aspiring entrepreneurs. Named as the Central Florida Social Enterprise Accelerator, the initiative will be harbored at Rollins College, wherein participants will freely partake in six month curriculum entailing valuable speeches from business, legal, accounting, and marketing specialists. It will culminate in a pitch presentation forum emulating the Shark Tank style. The winner will take home a five figure dollar sum.

Having been in the making for two years, it is salient to note that the accelerator is a result of a public-private partnership between two corporations who’ve already ventured into the social franchising domain and seen its benefits. First there’s the Clean the World, an acclaimed company recycling soap waste from hotels to combat ailments in sprawling urban areas, and the Downtown Credo, an enterprise operating name-your-price coffee shops. The latter has been funneling its profits to corroborating local artists and entrepreneurs, while also advocating for public participation in community projects. Clean the World on the other hand has transcended from its humble beginnings (was launched in one car garage) into a 115 country-spanning collective of 12 companies where only one is a non-profit. Founder Shawn Seipler mentioned that the initial motive of addressing childhood diseases via good hand washing practices proved to be a good driving force.


We should stop the hate and focus on the positive side of the refugee crisis

A 1951 Convention describes a refugee as someone who has fallen victim to persecution either because of his/her race, religion, or political/social preference, and cannot be safeguarded by the native country. Without a doubt, the ongoing refugee crisis has shown that migrants are often vulnerable, more so because the society at large considers them as low-tier citizens. And even worse, some fellow humans have seen an opportunity to cash in the crisis, wherein they charge refugees in border crossing, guaranteeing them of greener pastures once they get to the promised land, which often is not the case.

But in this negative rhetoric, it is salient to note that the subject group has made invaluable contributions to the global community, an aspect that seems to be overlooked. This makes us resort to the “us vs them” notion, which undoubtedly does not yield the much needed incentives to solve the migrant crisis.

One of the highly acclaimed refugees is Nobel Prize winner Albert Einstein. Back in 1933, he fled Nazi Germany for the US. From then, the father of physics went on to cement his position as one of the most distinguished scientists with impeccable expertise/prowess. Another case study is that of Luol Deng, who fled the Sudanese Civil war and later became a professional basketball player in the USA. So ultimately, refugees could be at a disadvantage, but not in their capacities and state of mind.


T-Hub organizes Social Square, a meet-up aimed at promoting social entrepreneurship

Hyderabad-based startup incubator T-Hub has recently launched the Social^2 initiative which is in itself a meet-up seeking to create a platform where entrepreneurs channeling their efforts to the social good can push their agenda. The main motive behind the move is to facilitate engagements between social enterprise proponents including students and professionals with eco-system corporations. A perfect example of the latter is Villgro, an organization that provides mentoring as well customer and investor access to initial phase franchises. Currently, Villgro is working with Yostra Labs, a company developing a diagnostic gadget for Diabetes Periphera Neuropathy, and Jaipur Rugs, a company selling hand-made rugs, carpets and pillows.

Juliane Frommter, international relations director at T-Hub, points out that even though India harbors a vibrant social impact ecosystem, the sector may sometimes seem disconnected. Social^2 therefore comes in handy to address this concern, by acting as a premises wherein invaluable exchanges, collaborations, and assistance undertakings can take place.

Juliane further notes that the expedition, having rolled out its first edition last week, has enrolled more than sixty people who are striving to develop feats in areas such as agri-tech and health tech. Participants include unemployed persons hoping to utilize the space in doing good for themselves and the planet as well.


Planning out Social Enterprise

I want to create a microfinance social enterprise that gives out micro-loans to people living under the poverty in South Korea. Because poverty cannot be solved by a mere donation, microfinance institution must provide both education and micro-loans to them to make them financially independent. Not only those who are living under the poverty, but also I want to give micro-loans of relatively large scale to potential creative social entrepreneurs without enough capital. If we can target these two sectors, we can address social problems both directly and indirectly. Also we can use the repayments by social entrepreneurs once they succeed to generate further micro-loans to the poor. To make my enterprise successful, I am planning to use Kiva as a platform to generate micro-loans and see how generating these loans work in the real world. Furthermore, I want to make a mobile application that enables people in South Korea to generate and receive micro-loans freely. Hopefully, we can use this mobile application as a platform for our social enterprise.

Raising Awareness of Local Social Business Model

Jeju, South Korea’s largest island is popularly known as the pearl of the South China Sea by virtue of its beautiful volcanic and natural landscape. Annually, Jeju attracts over 10 million tourists and naturally, the tourist business has developed; however, tourism entails many downsides that cannot be neglected.

Currently, tourist industry in Jeju often exploits the island’s natural resources and instead uses those in building hotels and resorts. The problem of natural exploitation is exacerbated by the purchase of land by wealthy Chinese people. Naturally the erosion of tourist industries erodes local industries and businesses, well known for their specialties, such as tangerine, green tea, and sea foods. In as much as the majority of local population depends on the income derived from selling these goods, the problem of the over-expansion of tourist businesses is a problem that needs to be adjusted.


One must then ask. Can social business model be used to resolve this issue? As far as we are concerned, social business model is definitely essential in moving towards sustainable development, an economic development progressed in the absence of social risks and damages. But the idea of social entrepreneurship in South Korea as well as in Jeju is not popular amongst the business cycle. To our surprise, however, we found a local business that operates as a form of community business model that resembles a lot from the aspects of the social business model.


Located nearby our school, Citrus Box Café operates as a form of community business. The café sells products made by using local agricultural products, mainly tangerine. The café opened in December 26th, 2014 and was selected by Jeju Free International City Development Centre (JDC) to be funded nearly $130,000. But behind such a huge funding, there was one premise: that the café has to return 50% of its product back to the local community. This is used for providing local people with access to social welfare as well as helping them to produce more goods. Because the café works toward sustaining the local goods, and thus sustaining the livelihoods of local people, the café is clearly a rare social business model found in Jeju. In addition to sustainable development, through funding this café, JDC hopes that the café will serve as a tool for building up strong bonds within the village community as well as promoting the local business.


Although JDC is not a tourist business, the company employed social business model to preserve small local business in the face of the incursion of larger businesses and industries and thus managed to make the lives of locals much easier than before. However, we also found out that because the café lacks profits, the café currently is not able to return its profit back to the local community. Despite selling local product itself is justified, as a form of social business, returning part of its product back to the community is what the JDC and the café really wants.


Not only to raise awareness of the social business model of the café, but also to encourage students and teachers to go and visit the café, we decided to sell the products made from the café during our end of year fete. Along with all students and teachers, many parents as well as other local Jeju people came along to the fete. Using this as an opportunity, we raised lots of money on behalf of the café and the JDC, with the promise of using 50% of profit in promoting the social welfare of local farmers. Moreover, we distributed posters introducing the operational model of the café, to encourage more people to visit the café in person. That way, we were both able to raise awareness of social business model as well as help the local community.

Of course we do not want this to be a mere one time event. We are planning more projects to promote the café and we will also investigate more community business, or social business model within Jeju Island with the bigger aim of settling the aspect of social entrepreneurship in Jeju.