SENO announces New Ventures Accelerator Program for Social Startups

The Social Entrepreneurs of New Orleans (SENO) is currently recruiting 10 creative problem solvers tackling critical New Orleans problems in the impact areas of Blight/Housing, Healthy Food Systems, Infrastructure/Transportation, Education, or Any New Orleans-Specific Issue.

Social entrepreneurs are innovators who are passionate about solving what others may see as intractable social problems.  They play a tremendous and critical role in solving our city’s biggest challenges.  The SENO New Ventures Accelerator was designed in partnership with globally recognized social entrepreneurship nonprofit Echoing Green and shaped by the needs of early-stage social entrepreneurs.

The purpose of the Accelerator is to significantly accelerate an early-stage social venture’s impact and financial sustainability. SENO recognizes that early-stage social entrepreneurs are talented individuals but will not start out as experts in every aspect of running their new ventures. The Accelerator provides hands-on support from paid consultants in areas of need, pro-bono professional services, a large network of mentors and experts, timely connections, peer learning opportunities, and increased exposure for the venture.

Program Process:

• We will select ten high-potential social entrepreneurs who have innovative solutions to important challenges in New Orleans. We will focus on the following impact areas this year: 1) Blight/Housing, 2) Education, 3) Healthy Food Systems, 4) City Infrastructure, and 5) Other New Orleans-specific Issue. If you are a social entrepreneur not working in impact areas 1-4, we still encourage you to apply.
• We work with the social entrepreneur in a 10-month engagement to test and implement his/her promising new approach to solving a problem.
• We begin with an organizational assessment, which includes a financial, operational, and programmatic review.
• Together, we set and reach short- and long-term goals through our Milestone Activity Plan (MAP) for deep social impact and financial sustainability.
• We assemble a team for each social entrepreneur made up of an Accelerator Consultant, Executive Mentor, and pro-bono technical assistance experts (legal, marketing, financial, etc.).
• Support occurs in areas such as building financial models, accessing funding networks, market research, strategic planning, business planning, setting up accounting systems, marketing, and fund development.
• Our goal is for 80%+ of our participants to reach their social impact and financial sustainability goals in ten months.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Founder, co-founder, or leader of an early-stage social change venture currently in operation or in development (for-profit/non-profit/hybrid; less than 4 years in existence or fewer than 3 employees)
  • The desire to seek external support, services, coaching, and mentoring to build a stronger platform to achieve the venture’s mission
  • The desire to accelerate social impact and venture development
  • Unwavering commitment to realizing the venture and achieving the mission
  • Ability to commit to the following::

o Availability to attend program launch and “graduation” event where Accelerator participants present program deliverables and successes to a peer audience (dates TBA)
o Responsiveness to SENO program staff
o Commitment to fill out monthly 5- minute surveys on program deliverables
o Ability to receive feedback and the capacity to implement or act on suggestions and plans that both participant and consultant have agreed on
o Ability and capacity to follow through on the jointly developed and agreed-upon action steps, goals, and deliverables in the ten-month “Milestone Activity Plan”
o Capacity to meet or correspond at least once/week with Accelerator Consultant
o Ability to commit to May 2011 program start date

Who should apply? Early-stage social entrepreneurs–creative problem solvers–with promising solutions to critical challenges in New Orleans.  Social innovators who are seeking expert guidance to help realize their mission in a shorter time frame.  Click here to read full selection criteria. Apply today at Questions about the application and program are welcome.  Email  Deadline is April 14, 2011, 11:59pm.

You can also help out and Be Part of The Solution.