Social entrepreneurs need support to make a difference at the same time as building a business. Our specialist Incubator helps founders strike the right balance.
There is a vast range of resources available to support founders of new enterprises. But where do you turn if making a social or environmental impact is central to your business plan? Starting any kind of business is a daunting prospect but the task has added complexity if you are aiming to tackle disadvantage or promote biodiversity at the same time as balancing the books.
This is where ‘incubation’ can be a particularly appropriate method for providing intensive support to start-up social entrepreneurs. Business incubation has been an increasingly popular method of promoting enterprise development over the last decade. Incubators generally incorporate a package of support such as structured workshops, mentoring, free office space and start-up funding.
The real power of incubators comes from creating cohorts of like-minded entrepreneurs who are able to bounce ideas off one another, collaborate for mutual benefit and support one another through the highs and lows of setting up a business.
This type of support has particular relevance for social entrepreneurs in the start-up phase. As well as establishing the nuts and bolts of their businesses, social entrepreneurs must grapple with additional challenges like recruiting volunteers, developing a Trustee Board, measuring impact and managing the needs of vulnerable beneficiaries. The scale of the task can feel epic at times so having specialist knowledge and supportive peers on hand can prove the difference between success and failure.
Here at The Melting Pot, we’ve been running an Incubator for the last 4 years especially for founders of new non-profits. The programme is made up of interactive workshops, mentoring, learning visits, pitching sessions as well as access to our fantastic coworking space. What we offer is enhanced by the involvement of diverse partner organisations like Unltd, the Social Enterprise Academy and Business Gateway as well as social businesses like Noble Ox and Third Sector Lab.
It’s inspiring to be in the company of the grassroots leaders we support – all out there striving to use their talents to make the world a better place. Each year, we see our alumni organisations grow and develop and have increased reach and impact. And each year new leaders join the fold with the aim of creating new enterprises with a social purpose.
In this way, incubation really does power social innovation. It’s an exciting and creative area of our work and central to our vision of supporting people to work together to tackle society’s problems.
Jane Bruce, Head of Social Impact, The Melting Pot