NEWPORT BEACH, Calif., Jan. 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Making money while also solving social problems is a deep challenge. An innovative Southern California initiative aims to give idealistic entrepreneurs practical coaching to meet it.
The Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge ("SocEnt Challenge") features early-stage ventures meeting community needs in food systems, community development, health and education. It uses a two-pronged approach - first connecting entrepreneurs with skilled business advisors and then introducing them to well-suited investors.
"Social entrepreneurs often lack knowledge in key areas of business, such as market research, pricing, team-building and distribution," says Betsy Densmore, who is spearheading the SocEnt Challenge. "Our aim is to fix that, and match them with appropriate investors. We are targeting social enterprises that have a proven concept," she says. "Usually they have been in operation for at least six months and having begun selling their product or service."
"Traditional methods of solving chronic social issues have failed to move the needle to end poverty in America," says Densmore, who has worked with over 250 social entrepreneurs, helping bring in $10 million in revenue for charitable ventures, through training, mentoring and connections to local universities. "Social enterprises use the free market to address challenges such as environmental cleanup, employing ex-offenders and mitigating 'food deserts' in poor neighborhoods."
How It Works
The call for submissions attracted nearly 100 ventures addressing a broad range of needs. Academies for Social Entrepreneurship (www.academies-se.org) the program's producer, will draw on seasoned entrepreneurs from affiliated angel and social investor groups such as Tech Coast Angels, OC Innovators, Vistage, Social Venture Partners, and several colleges and universities. These men and women will join with sponsor representatives to provide due diligence and mentoring that readies contestants for the Showdown semi-finals event on Saturday, March 19th at Saddleback College and the Showcase finals which will take place in Los Angeles County in early May. The goal is to catalyze at least one million dollars in new investments.
The SocEnt Challenge is based on a pilot program produced in 2014 at Saddleback College. Saddleback, the California Community Foundation and the Annenberg Foundation are lead funders for the SocEnt Challenge. To date, Pacific West Bank, Goodwill of Orange County and the Slow Money Network have committed to being event sponsors.
SOURCE The Southern California Social Entrepreneurship Venture Challenge