School for Social Entrepreneurs targets “people with passion” for new incubator intake

Social enterprise coaching group the School for Social Entrepreneurs has opened applications for its 2013 incubator program.


The nine-month program is seeking 20 to 25 applicants in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne who have ideas for social or environmental start-ups.


SSE chief executive Celia Hodson told StartupSmart what they’re really looking for is the social entrepreneur’s passion.


“It’s more about the individual than their idea. They may not be able to fully articulate their idea at this stage, but we’re looking for the people with passion to drive and make change,” Hodson says.


“These guys are dreamers, they’ve got very early stage ideas and a burning passion but they’re not really sure what that looks like and if the market’s ready.”


Hodson says they’re hearing a lot of ideas around education, community cohesion and the environment.


The program provides access to mentoring networks and events, as well as one-on-one mentoring with experienced entrepreneurs from social enterprises and businesses.


Students pitch to a panel of mentors on their first day and are paired up with a mentor throughout the nine-month program.


“We know a lot of social entrepreneurs tend to get quite lonely. People in the program often say things like ‘I’ve found my tribe, and they don’t think I’m completely crazy’. It’s about coming home,” Hodson says, adding many don’t have a business network or background and the program is designed to address that.


The program will take place in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney and applicants need to be able to attend all 13 study days in the nine-month period. SSE works with students to develop crowdfunding campaigns to fund their trips to each state.


“Access to funding for start-ups is quite hard in Australia, so getting our students to ask for cash is important. They need to be real about that, and this helps them think about money and becoming sustainable,” Hodson says, adding there are social benefits to crowd funding and the multi-state study program.


“We do this to grow a community that’s bigger than the sum of its parts, to keep reconnecting with our alumni and mentors and networks to create a collegiate network of people supporting each other,” he says.


The program will begin November 2013. Applications close August 30.


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