What is a social enterprise?
Invest2Innovate defines a social enterprise as a for-profit or non-profit business that provides an innovative product or service to address a long-standing social or environmental issue. While social enterprises’ primary intention for launching their business is impact-driven, they must also be financially viable and sustainable.
What kinds of enterprises get chosen for the i2i Accelerator?
Invest2Innovate selects high-growth social enterprises with potential for sustainability and large-scale social or environmental change in Pakistan. We choose seed-stage models – looking for key business support as well as between USD$100K – $200K in investment – that are thoughtful, innovative, and primarily have a significant and measurable social and/or environmental impact. i2i will give preference to for-profit enterprises already generating revenue on the ground, but we will still consider non-profit models that have plans to be financially viable. We’re not looking for entrepreneurs who will be grant or donation dependent for eternity.
Does i2i focus on a particular sector?
For now, yes. Since Invest2Innovate is a start-up ourselves, we want to prove our model & build expertise in a specific number of sectors first. This is better for you – the entrepreneur – because you’ll get access to tailored mentors and experts that can help your business grow. i2i will give preference to enterprise applicants focused on Agriculture, Energy, or ICT4D. If your idea doesn’t fall into those categories but you think it’s ground-breaking, awesome, and you fulfill our basic eligibility requirements, apply anyway. There are always exceptions to the rules.
What value will I get from the i2i Accelerator?
The i2i Accelerator is a four-month program in which entrepreneurs convene for monthly two-day sessions. In the span of these four months, entrepreneurs will gain access to mentors, industry experts, and key curriculum that will help grow your businesses and position you for investment. The curriculum topics include legal structuring, branding/marketing, operational support, financial modeling, and measuring social impact. At the end of the four-month program, i2i Enterprises will pitch for funding to i2i Angels, our community of angel investors committed to supporting seed-stage entrepreneurs in Pakistan.
How did the 1st i2i Accelerator go?
Pretty awesome. We learned a lot that we’re excited to apply to our next class of the i2i Accelerator. You can read a related post here, and below see our sweet video:
Who invests in i2i’s Enterprises?
i2i Angels is our investor community, made up of angel investors interested in helping social businesses grow by providing both access to capital as well as mentorship to i2i Enterprises. We work with our i2i Enterprises through the Accelerator to ensure they are investment ready, and then connect them with our Angel network, where Enterprises gain access not only to capital support but guidance on a range of topics from operational challenges, to marketing, to financing. Our angel investors/funders can be institutions or individuals (to learn more see i2i Angels’ FAQ page).
Ok, so I applied to the next i2i Accelerator. What happens next?
We have a rigorous due diligence process that each enterprise must go through before selection, ensuring that prior to joining the i2i community each enterprise meets i2i’s criteria as a high-potential organization with both a sound financial plan and the ability to have a positive social and/environmental impact on low-income communities. Our next application cycle will launch in June 2013 – we will announce the finalists in July 2013, and will select the final class in August 2013. The next Accelerator will run from September 2013 – January 2014.
Is this free? How does i2i make money?
If an enterprise is selected to join our Accelerator program, they pay an upfront cost of USD$250 or around PKR 25,000. This initial payment covers the time i2i puts in with our initial due diligence, and also shows us that you’re willing to put some skin in the game. i2i also values our services and access to our networks as either revenue-sharing or equity. We don’t use a traditional consulting model because we understand the constraints of start-ups. We will take a combination of a flat fee & sweat equity from entrepreneurs (averaging 3% to 5% for-profit enterprises). This works with the flexibility of the entrepreneur but also ensures that i2i gets compensation for the work we do for you.
So i2i just works in Pakistan right now. Do you plan to go elsewhere?
Yes, but not yet. We launched our pilot in Pakistan in September 2011 and are committed to creating a better enabling environment for entrepreneurs in the country. Pakistan is exciting, but there’s also a lot of work to be done. Based on the success of our model – the accelerator program & the accompanying angel network – i2i hopes to scale to other untapped & new markets in 2014 to either Tunisia or Bangladesh.
I’m excited to apply! Are there upcoming deadlines?
Yes! The next application cycle will open on June 3, 2013 and will close on July 1, 2013. We will announce the finalists at the end of July, and will select the final class of entrepreneurs in August 2013. Our next accelerator will run from September 2013 – January 2014, and entrepreneurs will meet for two-day sessions once a month during this program.