Spotlight: Kristen Engberg

Kristen long

What drives you?

The reward of seeing people truly fulfilled by their sense of purpose.

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

I don’t. We mainly work with social innovators and to me, that is someone who has thoroughly  assessed a problem, and understand what systems and solutions are currently in place. He or she has ideas and a plan for building off what currently exists in a fundamentally different way that will offer some kind of breakthrough.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

I have experienced two trends. Firstly, what I see with Millennials is a huge emphasis on the social/emotional aspect of working in the social impact space. They are very identity driven. Social change is not always their primary motivation, it is to live a good life and be a good person. It has influenced the nonprofit world in an interesting way. Back in the day, it was more about crusading, shouting at people and sacrificing yourself for your cause. The more recent change has affected how we treat each other in the sector.

Secondly, I am happy to see that the impact space has started increasing transparency about vanity metrics: The number of Facebook likes or lowering overhead to twelve percent does not tell us much about the impact a social organization achieves. Professionals in this sector are increasingly willing to confess it or call it out, and admit it’s distracting from real impact. Five  years ago people were all about data, because it was new that we had so much of it. Today, it’s about relevant data.”

Background

Apart from her experience as consultant and manager at various organizations like Greenpeace USA and Human Rights First, Kristen says about her background: “I have more than 25 years of experience in trying to get and keep people engaged in social causes. From receptionist to CEO, funder and consulting firm – I have been supporting organizations in different roles to figure out what conditions make  innovation happen. Beespace was a great opportunity to shape something, bring forward what I have learned and support the next generation of nonprofits as they are shaping up.”

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@beespacenyc

Spotlight: Camila Pazos

Camila long

What drives you?

I believe that in an inequitable world, the power of a community can be transformational. I view my role as a vehicle for access for those who are so often underrepresented from this space.

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

I like to think of social entrepreneurs as community mobilizers. They are change agents with innovative ideas to solve social problems in their communities, who take it upon him or herself to address them.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

I’m seeing many applicants come to us having pivoted from their career and taking a bet on something completely new that at the same time feels incredibly true to their purpose. These are leaders who realize that they have a different role – and it’s always refreshing to see some of these stories.

Background

I was born and raised in Colombia, which gave me a unique perspective to understand how the world outside of the U.S. operates. I have a background in Sustainable International Development, and have spent my professional life working on programs related to social entrepreneurship and public health.

twitter

@cpazosfajardo

Beespace

Kristen Engberg is CEO at Beespace New York – an incubator for nonprofits. While for-profits are eligible to apply; however Beespace places high value on ventures whose social mission is priority and to date, this has led to nonprofit participants such as the Malala Fund, The Adventure – a movement to fight extreme poverty – and Organize, a venture enhancing effectiveness and impact in organ donation.

Support Philosophy

Beespace New York was founded by Marissa Sackler in 2012 with the intent to provide a co-working space to nonprofits while taking care of their administrative work. Kristen explains “The idea was that creativity would flourish in a space like this. When I joined Beespace nine months into their first program, we observed the teams and decided to pivot. Over the first two years we tested ways to infuse more innovation into the social sector. Our goal was never to create more nonprofits, but better ones.”

bee hive

The Bee Hive

Kristen speaks like a true startup entrepreneur when she tells me how – after their pivot – they experimented with different formats and are continuously testing hypotheses about their program to tailor it to the needs of the nonprofits they work with, and the sector at large. She further explains: “We just did a big pivot and were very open about it. Between the first cohort and this one, we have changed the program entirely. For a donor, however, this means that we don’t have a track record, other than a track record of experimentation. Therefore, we look for donors who are interested in the model of incubation and ecosystem building, who understand the value of experimentation in the nonprofit sector, and comprehend what it takes to refine something that is really successful. We look for donors that value patient capital. Philanthropists who come from the tech world haven’t haven’t had the exposure to social impact organizations, they don’t know that the ROI doesn’t come that quickly.”  

Program & Selection

Beespace offers a two-year incubation program including

  • rent-free co-working,
  • outsourcing of back-end operations,
  • seed grants, technical assistance, and access to interested donors and an Innovation Fund, and
  • an integrated curriculum that includes experiential learning, field trips, formal skills-building workshops, peer-to-peer learning, and hands-on executive coaching.

With only five teams every two years, the selection process is competitive by nature. Kristen explains: “We work with nonprofits at the idea and prototyping stage. We are looking for people who want a  high-touch experience and are keen on engaging in a program, instead of just co-working or grant-funding. It is crucial to us that participants want to be part of  a learning community. One of the hypotheses we are testing is that peer-learning and support can make an instrumental difference in organizational effectiveness. This doesn’t happen automatically in a co-working space. So we are trying to foster a peer-community through culture setting by explicitly defining our values and who we want to be as a community. Self-awareness and emotional intelligence are a prerequisite for this to work.”

In order to be an effective innovator, you need to be emotionally intelligent. Click To Tweet

Kristen and her team reached out to other Fellowships, incubators, accelerators, foundations and universities as part of their effort to build a network of nominators for Beespace. They received 100 nominations for this second cohort. After a first screening, selected applicants were invited to submit a video about themselves (and didn’t talk about their nonprofits at all). In the next phase, 30 applicants were invited to submit a full-scale application, eleven semi-finalists joined a full-day retreat to get to know each other and the Beespace team. In February 2016, they started their incubation at Beespace.

Beespace’s program revolves around three key elements:

  1. Emotional Intelligence
  2. Design & Experimentation, and
  3. Sustainability.

“During the first year we focus on entirely on human-centered design, we don’t look into the business plan or how to develop a board. We want them to get their strategy right. Often, that means really slowing them down to work on their logic model and test their hypotheses. During this first year we take charge of their bookkeeping and other back-end operations with the intention to move them into self-sufficiency during the second year. By then, they have a viable pilot and are in a position to take the reigns over their administration.” Kristen says. Participants and the Beespace team convene at monthly gatherings to discuss their development against their initial design brief and progress against their role as innovators. Beespace itself self-evaluates their overall program and operations quarterly. Kristen sees their role as more than just an incubator: “Our internal purpose is to have an effect on the five organizations that are our incubees. Our external purpose, however, is to change the conversation about pivoting and experimentation in the nonprofit world. There is a lot of work to be done in this sector.”

How Beespace is different

Any criticism I have ever had about the charity/nonprofit sector, Kristen and her team refute by running Beespace like lean startup entrepreneurs. They do not assume to know what any nonprofit needs at any given time. They ruthlessly challenge and test their own assumptions, and adapt their program to the needs of founders. They initiate a peer-based support system and place emphasis on developing founders’ emotional intelligence. “Some founders struggle with the idea that the issue they are working on may be perceived differently by their beneficiaries. It is crucial to be self-aware and open-minded in this discovery process. If you base your logic model on flawed assumptions, you are not going to be able to fulfill your mission.”

The majority of philanthropic funders prefer supporting proven methods to do good instead of funding experimentation – a main obstacle in spurring innovation in the nonprofit world. Charities and nonprofits can’t try out new ways of achieving social impact or decreasing spending, because their funds are tied to the activities they have carried out for years. It is great to see that Beespace sets out to prove that innovation in the social sector is possible with the right kind of patient capital. I can’t wait to see how the lean startup is shaping their program and what impact numbers will look like a few cohorts down the road!

twitter@beespacenyc

beespacenyc.org

Echoing Green

Echoing Green is one of the most established support organizations for social entrepreneurs not least because they have been around for almost 30 years and come with a long track record of supporting social entrepreneurs. Established in 1987, Echoing Green has worked with nearly 700 emerging leaders, working in more than 70 countries, looking to launch initiatives to create change in their communities.  In recent years, Echoing Green’s reach and impact has grown significantly: Application numbers rose from 941 in 2009 to 2077 in 2016 Headquartered in New York City, I had the opportunity to speak to Camila Pazos who directs the search and selection process for the Fellowship program at Echoing Green.

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Xiaoyuan Ren and her team wit her My H2O campaign

Selection & Program Outline

Every year Echoing Green holds an open call for applications for their Fellowship program and receives thousands of applications from self-identified early stage social entrepreneurs. “We work closely with Outreach Partners such as universities, peer organizations, foundations, incubators and accelerators to spread the word about our opportunity and find the best applicants. Echoing Green’s mission is to track down the best and brightest leaders, bringing them together, and launching them on a path to success.”, Camila explains. Echoing Green offers four different programs

  • Fellowships
    • Global Fellowship: flagship program for emerging social leaders, across the world, working on smart solutions to challenges in their communities
    • Black Male Achievement Fellowship: supports leaders who are dedicated to improve the life outcomes of black men and boys in the United States.
    • Climate Fellowship: program for aspiring social entrepreneurs who develop innovations to mitigate and adapt to climate change
  • Direct Impact: experiential board leadership program to prepare exceptional young business leaders for high-impact nonprofit board service
  • Work on Purpose: a program designed to guide young professionals in creating impact in their careers
  • Impact Investing: supports Fellows seeking or receiving investment, and produces research that elevates the profile of global early stage social entrepreneurship and impact investing and the field level.

Camila and I mainly spoke about the Global Fellowship whose parameters are identical across all Fellowship programs. Selection criteria focus on both the individual (passion/purpose, resilience, leadership, ability to attract resources) and their organization (innovation, importance, potential for impact, business model) (website).

If selected, participants benefit from

  • A stipend of $80,000 for individuals (or $90,000 for two-person partnerships) paid in four equal installments over two years
  • A health insurance stipend
  • A yearly professional development stipend
  • Leadership development and networking gatherings
  • Access to technical expertise and pro bono partnerships to help grow their organization, a dedicated Echoing Green portfolio manager, and support from Echoing Green chaplains
  • A community of like-minded social entrepreneurs, public service leaders, and industry leaders including the Echoing Green network of nearly 700 Fellows working in over sixty countries all over the world.

“We are not just a grant making organization but a Fellowship program.” Camila clarifies. ”We look to accelerate leaders with purpose creating change in their communities. While we work with them individually, one of the main strengths of our program is that we convene them within the greater Echoing Green network.”

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2016 Climate Fellow Radwa Rostom at Hand Over

Fellows are selected in June, and come together for a New Fellows Retreat in July. Together with their portfolio managers, they develop their Individual Fellow Plan (IFP) outlining what it is they want to achieve throughout the Fellowship, and how to get there. Fellows also benefit from a leadership development fund to invest in their training, and access to service partners to work on specific aspects of their ventures.

How Echoing Green is Unique

What surprised me about Echoing Green is that they have been managing this large program from one headquarter in New York City. I realize they work with partner hubs at the West Coast of the US, India and some African countries. But still, stemming this kind of operation with participants from all over the world out of one location sound challenging.

At the same time, Echoing Green’s model lends itself to this central management not least because their system is built on Portfolio Managers who take on a number of Fellows and guide them through their Fellowship with the help of their Individual Fellow Plans. Portfolio Managers may be able to serve on one or more of the five following roles::

  • Connector -Is the best positioned to help a Fellow access the tremendous resources in the Echoing Green Community;
  • Expert Advisor – Can, where possible and justified, drawn on personal experience and expertise to help a Fellow solve key organizational challenges;
  • Thought Partner – Serve as an extra brain to think critically, as smart generalists, through any sort of issue a Fellow may face, such that they don’t have to do it alone;
  • Confidant – Will listen, without prejudice, to professional and personal challenges; and
  • Advocate – Promote a Fellow to potential donors and peer institutions, awards or even for opportunities within Echoing Green itself.

The Individual Fellow Plan is an “informal written document that identifies [Fellows’] current strengths and weaknesses and identifies the areas where Echoing Green is best placed to be helpful over the course of the two years and beyond.” It hones in on leadership skills that will affect the Fellow’s ability to

  • Raise money in appropriate amounts for their stage and size of need.
  • Operate according to clear, written short-term plans and goals.
  • Internalize a philosophy of regular measurement against a documented theory of change
  • Remain committed to keep working on their issue and/or organization, at a high level of passion and energy, in the years after their Fellowship.
  • Identifying and mapping solutions for two to three additional areas that may only be relevant to that particular Fellow at that time, such as hiring an executive team or building a thought leadership capacity.

Dive into their support philosophy here.

At the time of publication (June 2016), Echoing Green just announced their latest Fellow cohort. Learn more about them here.

 

twitter@echoinggreen

echoinggreen.org

Spotlight: Emily Winograd

emily long

What drives you?

“I have advocated for causes like educational equity, environmental sustainability, and food justice through a number of channels over the years.  Through this work, I have encountered many visionary leaders with great strategies for social change.  One of the challenges I’ve seen is with leaders and organizations that lack the flexibility, cultural competence, or empathy they need to adapt their approach to communities and build movements.  I am passionate about the positive effect that design thinking and cultural competence can have in the social sector.”

How do you define social entrepreneurship?

Creatively using the resources available, often by-passing existing business and government institutions, in order to build an ideal solution with the user’s needs in mind.

Biggest SocEnt trend you have seen in the last 5 years?

“I’ll just speak for PresenTense. We have overhauled our curriculum to truly follow the design thinking process. We strongly believe in the power of customer empathy to develop solutions and our curriculum reflects this. In an effort to make our programs accessible to many communities, we have started developing different formats to meet partners’ program needs.”

Background

Emily obtained dual Bachelor of Arts degrees at Barnard College and The Jewish Theological Seminary, in Sociology and Bible Studies, respectively. She explains: “I never necessarily wanted to pursue a job in the Jewish community, but I was always interested in social impact. My first job was as campus recruiter for Teach For America (TFA). I learned a lot about how large institutional nonprofits work, and I applied those principles to upgrade the curriculum, program assessments, and other systems within PresenTense.  After two years at TFA, I came across the position at PresenTense. I joined the team in May 2014, and it’s been an incredible learning experience with a great team.”

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@PresenTenseNYC

PresenTense

In 2005, Ariel Beery and Aharon Horwitz were fed up with people constantly telling them that their generation was the future. They thought that there had to be something to do in the present rather than the future. Together in an apartment in Jerusalem, they brainstormed ideas for how to make a difference. They wanted to bring together people to work on ideas in a collaborative setting. They created a magazine only to realize that print media was not an efficient channel to follow their mission. In 2009, in partnership with Combined Jewish Philanthropies in Boston, they came up with an accelerator model that become the heart and soul of PresenTense.  Fast forward 7 years and PresenTense is running eight  programs in Israel and seven  in the United States.

Focus group discussion

Focus group discussion

“The mission of the American PresenTense is to use entrepreneurship as a tool to enrich Jewish communal life, grow local economies and solve critical issues facing society.” explains Emily Winograd, Vice President of Programs at PresenTense US’ headquarter. “In Israel, we don’t focus as much on the Jewish aspect, but rather, our mission is economic empowerment and full participation in the startup ecosystem for all members of Israeli society, particularly marginalized groups.”

Selection & Program Overview

In every location, PresenTense works with local partner organization to implement their programs. Hence, the selection process differs according to the needs, circumstances and community of each partner. “The content is very universal so that anyone can contribute to the conversation. The curriculum is based on design thinking – we emphasize visioning and empathy – and is delivered over six seminars. We complement seminars with  mentoring and coaching, leveraging local networks of personal coaches and subject matter experts. Our goal is to grow an ecosystem of support by engaging the entire Jewish community around each partner. Most Fellows work full-time or are in graduate school. Two programs only have seminars on Sundays, some programs run on weeknights. Most of our programs run from January to June in cohorts of seven to fourteen participants. With a core team of six in New York and Denver, we work with local coordinators and trainers for each program to deliver our curriculum. A strong curriculum, capable trainers and a strong network of experienced mentors are key to a successful program.”

Brainstorming potential solutions in session

Solution brainstorming

How PresenTense is unique

I had no idea that Israel is a hub for technical innovation and startups. So obviously I learned a lot during this interview. What fascinates me about PresenTense is that they manage to leverage their Jewish community across the US and within Israel to sync their efforts in the space of social startup incubation and acceleration. Emily tells me that Joshua Venture Group, Upstart, PresenTense and ROI convene at an annual conference known as The Collaboratory to create an ecosystem that provides continuous support to Alumni of these programs. This is something I would love to see with non-Jewish support organizations! I realize that some of these efforts take place at the Global Social Entrepreneurship Network out of London, UK, and Conveners in the US. But the longer I think about it the more I believe that organizing in sub-groups has its advantages as opposed to trying to meet at SOCAP or flying to some other destination for a Learning Exchange (which have their benefits, too).
Another defining characteristic of PresenTense is their partnership model. Partner organizations pay to run a PresenTense Accelerator (like Compass Partners). Now you know I am a great fan of financial sustainability of support programs and I love seeing this approach work! How do we adapt our cost structure to be able to implement this model in mid-tier cities and their communities that have less financial resources?

twitter@PresenTense

presentense.org

Field Study: United States

In late July 2015, after seven months of research and discovery of the European social enterprise landscape, and its supporters, I was headed for the US. Located in Virginia, I built up a solid home base to work as a freelancer (I recently launched my professional website anikahorn.com!) and take research trips to social enterprise hubs along the East Coast.

Before we dive into the field visits that – so far – have taken me to Washington, D.C. , New York City and New Orleans, I was curious to find out what academia and practitioners had to say about social entrepreneurship in the States.

What the academics say

I love reading up on academic findings in this field. The peer-review process and emphasis on scientifically sound methods shields findings from subjectivity; there is some neutrality and quality to the findings. With that said, I was surprised to find very little published work on social entrepreneurship in the US. The main papers I am referring to stem from 2010 and 2006.

Doeringer (2010) argues that social enterprise in the US “reflects a focus on generating income for organizations that provide services typically thought of as being provided by the nonprofit sector” (p. 292), while the European concept focuses more on tackling the issue of chronic structural unemployment. Doeringer’s work very much discusses social entrepreneurship through the lens of law; he highlights the role and distinction of the nonprofit sector so if you are interested in learning more about that, I recommend his work!

Similarly, Kerlin (2006) focuses on the distinction between social enterprise in the US versus Europe and claims that “much of the practice of social enterprise in the United States, termed as social enterprise, remains focused on revenue generation by nonprofit organizations” resulting in nonprofit social enterprise, nonprofit enterprise, nonprofit ventures, and enterprising nonprofits (p. 248).  According to Kerlin, the European understanding is rooted in the for-profit sector through “firms who seek to enhance the social impact of their productive activities.” (p. 249). The author sheds light on the role of cooperatives and the work of EMES – a research network of universities with a focus on social enterprise, social entrepreneurship, social economy, solidarity economy and social innovation. They are a good resource if you are interested in learning more about social entrepreneurship in Europe – which – however – is not the purpose of this introduction to social enterprise in the United States. But hey, knock yourselves out!

All in all, academic research of social enterprise in the U.S. very much relies on a comparison to Europe. The sources I consulted had me sort through pages and more pages of historic developments. If that’s what you’re into, that’s great but a word of warning: having interviewed more than 25 support organizations in Europe, I just don’t see any of these findings reflected in the current world of social enterprise in Europe, which makes me doubt the validity of U.S. findings. I don’t  mean to discredit anyone’s research, but let’s say I have my reservations.

Practitioner Insights

Similarly to the academic universe, I had a hard time digging up any up-to-date research on social enterprise in the U.S. in practitioners circles. The most extensive resource I could find is Social Enterprise: A Portrait of the Field by Community Wealth Ventures, Social Enterprise Alliance and Case at Duke from 2010. Here are the delicious bits from their report that surveyed 400 social entrepreneurs in 2009:

  • Main sectors social entrepreneurs are active in:
    1. workforce development
    2. housing
    3. community & economic development
    4. education, and
    5. health
  • Workforce:
    1. 41.7% of social enterprise have one to five employees
    2. 12% have more than 100.
  • Most common social enterprise types:
    1. education & training institutions
    2. retail & thrift shops
    3. consulting
    4. food service & catering
    5. arts-oriented ventures
Social Enterprise: A Portrait of the Field, p. 10

Social Enterprise: A Portrait of the Field, p. 10

  • Income:
    1. 34% of social enterprises in the US reported an earned income of more than one million dollars
    2. 25% quoted less than $100,000
  • Biggest challenges social entrepreneurs in the US face:
    1. sales & marketing (27%)
    2. financial issues (23%)
    3. human resources (13.8%)
    4. operations (11.9%)
  • Greatest support needs were rooted in a lack of technical assistance and training in
    1. business plan development (51%)
    2. introductory training to social entrepreneurship (48%)
    3. market research and analysis (45%)
    4. accessing capital (42%)

The authors argue that the biggest challenges in growing the sectors lie in the areas of funding and finances, lack of seminars and training, as well as changes in legislation. All in all, it seems to require a cross-sector effort from the investment community, support organizations and advocacy groups/legislators. It is not the most current report, but I really recommend it if you want to dig a little deeper into U.S.-American social enterprises!

Social Enterprise: A Portrait of the Field, p. 7

Social Enterprise: A Portrait of the Field, p. 7

If you are looking for more recent data, check out Ben Thomley’s The Facts on Social Enterprise in the US in Huffington Post Impact from 2012. Be aware that the links don’t direct to the data source he mentions but the general website of Social Enterprise Alliance.

In 2014, Michael Belinsky argued in Stanford Social Innovation Review that three developments had influenced the sector in the previous year. Foundations were able to make a new type of investment well suited to social entrepreneurs: Program-related investments are similar to grants with the difference of having to be repaid. Corporate forms such as Benefit Corporation (adopted by 31 States as of February 2016) and L3Cs – low-profit limited liability companies. Thirdly, in 2013 Social Impact Bonds made an entry to the US. Often referred to as a Pay For Success model, which offers a more output-oriented financing models to social entrepreneurs. I asked Michael for an update but haven’t heard back yet.

Even though not a detailed insight, I hope this got your mouth watering! As I am based in the united States for now, this section will not be as consistent as the European field visits. I will throw learnings and insights from trips to other countries in, so make sure to use the tags in the right sidebar to navigate!
Let’s dive in and see what social enterprise support looks like in the United States!    

Log 01: LH426

January 12, 2015

Log [n.]: Personal reflection

When I left Hamburg, Germany, in July 2014, I had taken all possible measures I could think of to make sure I was set for success. Organization, discipline, SMART goals – all in order to make sure that I would not fail. I had lists and spreadsheets for different sections of my life to make sure I got a paid job in no time and the H1B visa. I was going to be an independent strong 21st century women (read Amazon!) who would take the US in a storm.

Fast forward 5 months and I am writing this on the plane back to Germany,  no job, no visa. When I first had to admit that my professional superhero scenario was not going to come true, I was mortified. I had failed. And you know what? It didn’t matter. I didn’t even care all that much. It occurred to me that the only one who was beating herself up over this supposed “failure” was myself. It dawned on me that I had set the wrong kind of goals, that I have been striving to return to the system as quickly as possible. Social security number, pay taxes, and – God forbid – make sure my LinkedIn profile showed an employer under “current position”. Now don’t get me wrong, I still look forward to having a US social security number  and I think it is important to pay taxes. But I realized that I was focused on ticking those boxes rather than creating my own. I had had this idea for a project of my own which would later turn into Social Venturers. I have been putting it off for a year now. The first six months I didn’t have time to work on it because I was full-time employed in Germany, the second six months I couldn’t possibly devote any time to it as I clearly needed to find a full-time job first. Which in turn would have pulled me away from this project again. I had created this perfect little vicious cycle which would never allow me to just try it out and see what happens. And so the Social Venturer was born – after a year of contemplating, not daring, and finding excuses.

By Dominik Schroeder

By Dominik Schroeder

Of course it wasn’t all this black and white. The idea needed some time to mature. I needed time to mature and convince myself that I can do it. Also, I have managed to get some freelance work with my old company and of course you never really go back to square one, you are wiser and more experienced than you were the first time around.

As I am writing this, the plan is to go back to Europe to find professionals who devote their careers to supporting entrepreneurs with a social mission, and learn what it means to be good at it. There is plenty of buzz around social entrepreneurs, they are being studied, awarded and hyped – and that is ok in its own right. What we don’t hear so much about, however, are the support organizations behind these individuals – all the incubators and accelerators, summer schools, university programs, even angel investors that search for this talent around the world to nurture it. There is an entire industry of professionals that devote their careers to training and educating, mentoring, coaching and financing start-up entrepreneurs with a social mission. These are the people I want to meet, talk to, and learn from.

I joined the Managing Directors conference of the Global Accelerator Network in New York in October 2014 thanks to one of the contacts I had made during my first weeks in the States. The MD’s came together in New York for three days to discuss their common challenges, their individual challenges, good and best practices, industry trends, you name it. I was baffled to see how openly every leader spoke about what was really going on in the space and how they respond to these pressures. While these were supporter from the conventional start-up space, one thing holds true:

When it comes to supporting start-up entrepreneurs – social or not – a dialogue about how we as an industry can best address their needs and nurture their talent is tremendously helpful in designing better programs and creating higher social impact. I am setting out to find fellow Social Venturers and listen to their ideas, opinions, concerns and forecasts for the social entrepreneurship scene. I want to gain and share insights into their career paths as individuals and their work within their organization.

Global Accelerator Network Conference in New York, October 2014

Global Accelerator Network Conference in New York, October 2014

Why all that? I want us to start talking about good practices, valuable lessons and common challenges encountered when designing and implementing support programs for social entrepreneurs. I want us to start learning together, sharing our experiences and deciding how we can move this industry forward as a whole.

The plan is to document this journey and the Social Venturers I meet to learn and share these learnings.

Update May 17

One week until the website goes live. Looking back, I can tell that the first four months (almost exactly!) have been a great experience in giving it my best shot because I have stopped making excuses. Even though my freelance work keeps me busier than I want a lot of the time, and the funding is still nowhere in sight, I have worked on Social Venturers as my first priority. Confronting the person who wrote these earlier lines meaning to check in with myself about what I have achieved. I am currently visiting country number 5 to talk to the 23rd and 24th support organization. I am not as nervous as I thought I would be. That said, I still have a week to go, I don’t know what I don’t know about the launch of a website yet.

All in all, I can say that I am chuffed to see how many people I have met and how much I have learned from the over the past four months. Now it’s time to roll it out and see what you all think.