It’s one thing to launch a purpose-led business, it’s another thing entirely to prepare that business for outside investment. Becoming ‘investment-ready’ is a major challenge for social-enterprises, which is why the Social Impact Hub launched their Scaling Impact Accelerator program.
The Scaling Impact Accelerator first ran last year, and now in 2021 they have a fresh cohort of entrepreneurs who are out to prove that being impact-led is good for business.
The program takes the founders through an evolving series of workshops, training sessions and mentoring, before the program culminates in a demo-day where they present to a panel of investors. Networking is central to the process as the business founders work through masterclass sessions covering everything from defining a unique selling position, to marketing, accessing grants and finally to engaging with potential investors.
Belinda Morrissey is CEO at the English Family Foundation, but she’s also on the advisory board to the Social Impact Hub; she knows well the struggles faced by fledgling social enterprises.
“A key challenge for many of these businesses is simply not knowing what they don’t know, and understanding where the gaps are. It’s a paradox, you really need to hire some outside experts at that early stage, but you’re still desperately trying to raise capital because that’s what you need to be able to do what you do better. They often lack the resources to hire those experts that can help you get to the next stage.”
And when it comes to engaging directly with investors, there is a disconnect with both sides often struggling to find the right match.
“A key challenge is that founders say they simply can’t find investors, they struggle with it. But at the same time we have investors complaining about a lack of deals. It’s a difficult problem. And I think that’s a key benefit of the Social Impact Hub, and indeed I feel that is what Rob and Alex were looking to achieve with the Impact Summit, to create an environment where the interactions can happen organically.” Morrissey says.
This year’s cohort is as varied as the many social issues that challenge Australia. They cover impact themes from gender equality to mental health, training for those leaving prison to anti-bullying programs.
Here’s the list:
Last year’s cohort included Umbo, which won the Best Demo Day Award, and was awarded a cash investment from Tanarra Philanthropic Advisors. In the same group, MyCareSpace was awarded an Impact Investment Ready Growth grant from the Department of Social Services, which helps mission-led startups to fund capacity building, like finance and legal support, in the lead up to an investment.
The program is run by the Social Impact Hub, with funding from the Australian government’s Entrepreneurs’ Programme and the Sidney Myer Fund. Support also comes from EY consultants, and the English Family Foundation.