One of the most frequent questions I am asked from aspiring social business entrepreneurs is: how do I access funding for my social business? The answer is not always simple and straightforward. Accessing funds for a social business start-up is often a time-consuming and tiring process that requires a lot of patience.
I always tell people to try all possible avenues from participating in competitions for traditional profit maximizing start-ups to sending their business plans to foundations that support innovation and social entrepreneurship. Another idea is to apply for the existing social business funds such as the European Commission’s fund created by the Social Business Initiative or the Social Business Fund established by the partnership between Grameen and Credit Agricole if your social business is in Europe or North Africa.
Often, identifying the most suitable funds available for your social business project depends on its core business, whether it is new technology, healthcare, construction engineering, microcredit, agriculture etc. One thing is for sure: finding seed capital rarely comes easy. However, if your business plan is sound and your idea is brilliant there is no reason why you should not succeed. Start the activity/production of your social business with whatever funds you have available and slowly build it up from there. If you simply sit and wait to receive the responses to your applications you will waste time. Start selling your product or offering your service on a small scale and if that doesn’t allow you to have an income yet, find a part-time job to support yourself without losing focus of your ultimate goal, which is making your social business successful and solving an important social problem with it.
Private investment stakeholders who could potentially finance your social business are venture capitalists, business angels, equity investors and philanthropists. You can also try mainstream banks and banks that work directly with charities and social ventures. Another way to access funding can be through government or charitable grants. In some countries such as the UK it may be somewhat easier to find start-up capital for your social business due to the numerous social investors and funds that provide innovative financial solutions. However, regardless of where you live if you can prove a strong revenue stream and a sustainable business model it is just a matter of time.
You are going to accomplish your mission and start your social business! Keep the faith in yourself and believe in your social business idea. Should you have any questions or seek advice do not hesitate to contact us. Good luck!
Samantha Caccamo is the founder and CEO of Social Business Earth, the first social business in Switzerland created following Prof. Yunus’ principles. The company’s mission is to spread and implement social business in the world.
Samantha is a regular contributor for Diaforlife.
Read an interview with this inspirational Social entrepreneur here
Read more about SBE on: www.socialbusinessearth.org