Social enterprise startups in Sydney and Brisbane are being invited to apply for the Two Feet program, an initiative run by The Difference Incubator (TDi).
The program runs for six months, structured into group sessions each fortnight and monthly one-on-one coaching sessions. These sessions will take startups through strategy, operations, marketing, finance, funding and structuring options, and the measurement and governance of social outcomes.
Supported by National Australia Bank, the program costs $5,000.
Bessi Graham, cofounder and CEO of TDi, said that with the local social enterprise market currently in its infancy, the Two Feet program is part of a long-term mission to build a critical mass of successful social enterprises across Australia ready to rake on investment.
“We want social enterprise to become mainstream. Once we have a critical mass of enterprises, other startups will see how they can do good and make money, and investors will see how they can do good while diversifying and de-risking their portfolios,” she said.
With the Melbourne program launched last month, up to 40 startups will be taking part across the three cities. Graham said the selection panel will not be choosing charities or “napkin ideas” to take part but enterprises that are either already trading, or founders with a solid track record.
“We want to move social enterprises away from grant reliance and into a business model where they are doing good and making money. We are looking for companies that could stack up as good investment and demonstrate their social impact,” she said.
Startups currently taking part in the Melbourne program include Circular Food, a startup creating a closed loop system for organic waste, that is taking in organic waste and processing it using vermiculture, or worm farms, creating organic fertiliser, and Mr GP, a men’s GP clinic where appointments are conducted at the bar in order to combat the social stigma men feel visiting their GP.
Also taking part are The Food Workshop, which creates healthy lunches that parents can order online to be delivered to their child’s school, and m.a.dwoman, which has produced creative programs to support the disadvantaged. It also provides socially responsible team building for corporates to help them support their communities.
Social enterprise has become a hot market recently: last year entrepreneur Geoff Gourley established One10, a social enterprise accelerator and incubator. One10 has also partnered with Optus and the Foundation for Young Australians to help run the Future Markers program, an innovation challenge looking to fund social enterprises solving the issues facing vulnerable or disadvantaged youth.
The Telstra Foundation also recently announced the launch of a series of free innovation bootcamps designed for the not-for-profit sector. These are open to applications from those currently employed by a non-profit organisation that works to improve the lives of young people in Australia.
Learn more about the Two Feet program here.