Where can I find funding for my social enterprise?

Social Entrepreneurs have seen their funding options expand over the last couple of years. Until recently the main source of funding for those entering social enterprise has been in the form of grants. These grants typically came from philanthropic groups or individuals who’s mission aligned with an entrepreneur’s vision.

Now however, the options for the entrepreneur look more like traditional business enterprises. Funding comes from a number of sources including grants, equity, debt. Likely the funding will be a mix of all three.

Grants

There is a number of sources for grant money given to social enterprises. Some of the grant makers include:

  • Skoll Foundation
  • Ashoka – Ashoka is a global association of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs that invests in individual social entrepreneurs.
  • Draper Richards Foundation – Provides funding and business mentoring to individuals and their nonprofit organizations.
  • Echoing Green – Provides startup grants and support to social entrepreneurs and their organizations
  • Global Giving – Enables individuals and companies to find and support social and economic development projects around the world.
  • Kauffman Foundation – Makes grants and supports initiatives in projects involving both entrepreneurship and education.
  • Enterprise Funding Database – A directory of funders of social enterprise created by the Social Enterprise Alliance and The Enterprise Foundation.

Venture Captial

Another route you can take for funding your social enterprise is through Venture Capital. Like its traditional business counterparts, venture capitalists fund your enterprise and in return receive a stake in the ownership. There are a number of venture capital funds geared toward social enterprises.

  • Acumen Fund: Focus on solving problems of global poverty through loans and equity in India, Pakistan and East and South Africa.
  • Big Issue Investment: Focus on medium-term growth capital.
  • Calvert Group: Early, direct investments.
  • Central Fund: Strong focus on sustainable jobs for low-income populations; services for distressed communities.
  • City Light Capital: Early stage, social mission-driven companies; focus on good financial returns.
  • Clean Technology Venture Capital: Invests in mid-sized alternative energy companies with promising exits.
  • First Light (an iniatitave of Gray Ghost Ventures): Incubator and investment partner to seed-stage, for-profit social ventures
  • Good Capital: Expansion fund; high-engagement, hands-on investment partner.
  • Gray Ghost Ventures: Early stage enterprises focused on low-income communities in emerging markets.
  • Investors’ Circle: Investors’ Circle matches social entrepreneurs with its circle of angel investors.
  • Root Capital: Focus on grassroots businesses in rural areas of developing countries.
  • Shared Interest: Invests in fair trade businesses.
  • TBL Capital: Focus on social enterprises in consumer products, service providers, software, clean technology, green building, health and wellness, and retail.
  • Triodos Bank: Equity and debt fundraising; Social Enterprise Fund and EIS Green Funds.
  • Underdog Ventures: Focus on natural and organic food, environment and conservation, socially responsible consumer products, and socially responsible investment companies.

In addition to grants and venture capital if you are considering funding your social enterprise you can borrow against your business.

Now more than ever there are financial opportunities for entrepreneurs who are willing to take the plunge into a social enterprise.

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