$300K to Grow Young Social Enterprises
9 September 2015 at 10:34 am
Social enterprises in their developing stages can apply for a share of $300,000 funding in the inaugural round of the Partnering for Scale and Impact project.
An initiative of the School of Social Enterprise (SSE) Australia, Partnering for Scale and Impact (PSI), launched late last year with a commitment to raise $1.5 million over five years to assist the neglected early-stage social enterprise sector.
PSI Founder and SSE Australia Chair, Paul Bide said the Series One funding, to be delivered over three years, may only be shared by one or two applicants.
“The idea is we provide a significant boost to the venture or ventures we choose. It may be one that gets the whole lot, it depends on what sort of opportunities we have to help and it will depend on the application,” Bide said.
“We’ll make an assessment to see where we think we’re going to be able to make the most meaningful social change.”
To be eligible, ventures must tackle a clearly identifiable social problem, be no more than three years old with a minimal annual turnover, and have a clear business strategy as well as evidence of performance to date.
Bide said the PSI funding is designed to help grow fledging social enterprises that have trouble finding support into robust, self-sustaining and profitable entities. Recipients will also receive expert advice, technical support and networking opportunities.
“We want somebody who’s ready to scale and is able to use the resources that we’re going to be able to provide to really go to the next level,” Bide said.
“We’re looking to make a difference so if somebody’s already got significant funding from other players then we’re probably less likely to want to get involved.
“The idea of this fund is to provide a significant difference to a group of social enterprises and entrepreneurs that are finding it hard to raise capital. It’s the early stage nature of them that makes it hard to find capital.
“We’re going to be looking for someone who is ready to flower rather than someone who has already bloomed. We’re looking to catch somebody on the cusp of launching into significant scale.”
Bide said investors are less likely to take a chance on young social enterprises which creates significant barriers to entry in the sector.
"There’s a fair bit of money available for enterprises that have already got a proven track record and people can understand how the business is going to work. There’s less money available when there’s a higher degree of risk that the business may fail,” he said.
“What we’re trying to do is find the great idea that hasn’t yet proved itself enough, that foundations that require a more obvious success path won’t invest in.
“A lot of foundations just haven’t got the time to look at ventures that are in start-up mode… or haven’t got the staff with the right types of skills that can analyse a start-up opportunity and decide whether it’s worth investing in or not.
“This fund is to provide that sort of curiosity [so investors] have enough faith in the social entrepreneur that they’re willing to back them. It’s venture philanthropy.”
Bide said the number of future funding series is “open-ended”.
“We see this as something that will catch on and will be in permanent fundraising mode and it will become a standard part of our operations,” he said.
Applications are open until Sunday 11 October and can be completed here.