| Impactpreneur – Toru’s Program for Nurturing Entrepreneurs |
Toru’s program, ‘Impactpreneur’, seeks to support innovators to build social enterprises by nurturing their ideas and transforming them into scalable solutions. It is constructed as a 1-year program, launching in October 2017, covering three key stages:
- Design and Innovation
- Business Incubation
- Personal Development.
The structure of the ‘Impactpreneur Program’ reflects our understanding that each entrepreneur is different and requires individual focus. After a detailed needs assessment, each impactpreneur is assigned a dedicated portfolio manager who helps turn his/her the entrepreneur’s innovation into an investment-ready social enterprise. The program supports operations, legal and financial support of the enterprises, and personal leadership coaching of the impactpreneurs.
We anticipate that this program will eventually go on to promote and create positive changes by culturing nurturing sustainable solutions and growth that the enterprises will provide to the economy. We eventually hope to have a part in establishing cross-sectoral collaboration, closing ecosystem gaps and creating communities that catalyze the potential of enterprises to grow. Because it is through these enterprises and their sustainable solutions that local communities will be elevated out of the problems they face.
What are our Impactpreneur’s values?
The values we want to instill in our impactpreneurs are listed below. We want to play an active role in helping them develop and nurture these values as they lead their social enterprises:
Resilience and focus are our driving forces that we believe is critical for us and our impactpreneurs to create social enterprises and work towards bringing sustainable social change.
We believe it is important to identify a core purpose for our impactpreneurs that will strengthen their commitment and help us map out the road ahead.
Working together is a key part of ensuring effectiveness in our impactpreneurs’ enterprises.
- Willingness to Evolve
This is needed to adjust and adapt their products and their enterprises to achieve impactful goals.
- Empathy before Profit
In order to develop sustainable solutions and bring social change, it is essential to empathize with the existing problems and approach them holistically rather than equating the scale of solutions to the scope of profits alone. This will enable them to create solutions that are long-term focused and will bring systemic change.
- Sense of Possibility
We work with the belief that it is possible to co-create a social entrepreneurship landscape where every idea has the possibility of having its potential tested.
We recognize the need for developing the ability to attract resources by establishing and engaging with local and global networks.
What the Program Offers
The program will provide strategic foundational support to emerging entrepreneurs and enterprises working to bring about positive social change. At the beginning of the one-year program, impactpreneurs will be offered the opportunity to choose between growing their businesses into either social enterprises or social businesses.
The following support is to be provided to our impactreneurs:
- Human Centered Design: With the partnership with Greater Good Studio, we have developed the first HCD curriculum that is tailored to the local context. This will enable impactpreneurs to be able to relate and implement the methodology to develop their solutions further.
- Customized roadmaps and curriculum for business incubation: Our framework is designed to give innovators customized tools and skills they need to build and scale their enterprises in the long run.
- Technical Assistance: The program provides technical assistance for capacity building of the impactpreneurs’ enterprises.
- Access to Networks: We provide access to industry experts and stakeholders for product development, market access, business growth, downstream investors, and support to subject matter experts during Design and Innovation phases the impactpreneur’s journey.
- Business Incubation: Post minimum viable product, the impactpreneurs’ businesses need to scale for sales, marketing, productions and operations, recruitment and investment readiness. This will be done through leading experts and mentors.
- Access to Financial Networks: We assist our impactpreneurs in harnessing access to networks that can provide impact investment opportunities.
- Seed Investment: The program itself will provide seed money throughout the one year period of the program.
- Personal Leadership: We provide personal development coaching for the entrepreneur in order to become value-driven individuals.
- Impact Measurement: We help impactpreneurs create effective monitoring and evaluation tools to measure the impact of their enterprises.
- Review by Regional Incubator: Along with our own team, our business incubation partner, Villgro will guide us the impactpreneurs through the incubation journey of our impactpreneurs.
- Learning Trips: This allows our impactpreneurs opportunities to interact with inspirational and effective social entrepreneurs (peer mentors) in the regions. Our program offers site visits for impactpreneurs to peer mentors’ enterprises depending on the impactpreneurs’ curriculum requirements.
- Entrepreneur in Resident: We understand the challenges and importance of a workspace both in bureaucratic as well as incubation purpose. Entrepreneurs constantly face challenges (either in terms of product development or administrative support) in being able to belong to a location due to their credibility and affordability. Depending on their necessities, from time to time we provide impactpreneurs office space/work space during the 1-year period of the incubation.
- Legal and Governance: In Bangladesh, bureaucracy is an obstacle for early stage enterprises. Most innovators do not have the understanding of the complex legal, governance, and accounting structures that stand as a difficulty in the future. We help our impactpreneurs in these processes as well.
Who Will Mentor Our Impactpreneurs?
Our impactpreneurs work with a dedicated team of advisors and mentors who support them through their 1-year journey with us. The types of these mentors are:
Sector Mentor (Subject Matter Expert) – Individuals with sector specific expertise will guide the impactpreneurs as they address problems and challenges faced by beneficiaries. They will also act as a guide as impactpreneurs develop and prototype their products and services.
Business Mentors- Entrepreneurs and professionals with minimum 10 years of experience in running successful organizations will help impactpreneurs model their enterprises to become investment-ready.
In-House Design mentor- Trained design mentors will constantly work with key stakeholders to facilitate product development and market access. They will listen to professional and personal challenges and coach impactpreneurs on human centered design.
Personal Development Coach and Dedicated Portfolio Manager – These individuals will help impactpreneurs understand their strength and areas of development, and guide them throughout their business and product related queries. They will also coach them through their personal action plans to become effective leaders.
Peer Mentor- Individuals who are operating in a similar social enterprise in the region, will help impactpreneurs access knowledge, and share learning.
What Are We Looking For?
Our impactpreneurs are expected to demonstrate professional, academic, personal and community knowledge. Additionally, our assessment of applicants is centered on these areas:
- Social Impact – Does the product aim to solve the pain of the communities from a social and economic perspective and improve their lives directly?
- Innovation – We are looking for new and innovative solutions to Bangladesh’s most critical problems in health, education and worker welfare. However, it is important that the innovation is deliverable by the organization and employees. Additionally, the innovation must be differentiated where competitors (non-consumption or alternatives) cannot easily make the same claim. We focus on the solution’s innovative approach; it can be both adaptive and disruptive innovation.
- Business Feasibility & Scale – We wish to incubate early stage enterprises that have a tested prototype of a product. A large-scale impact can only be created if an enterprise can operate across geographies. We are looking for ideas that can be easily replicated across locations rather than those that are viable only in select parts of the country.
- Leadership – We believe that it is important to seek out entrepreneurs who have the acumen and ability to develop as leaders. The entrepreneur or founding team of an early-stage social enterprise is the single most significant aspect of an enterprise’s success. We look for people who are passionate about their ideas, are ambitious to grow, have strong skills sets and integrity and will rigorously execute ideas on the ground.
After selecting our cohort of impactpreneurs, we will induct them and together plan the journey of one year they will embark upon.
With the help of needs assessment, personal and enterprise goals will be planned and a mentor will be assigned to them. This will be presented to the Diagnostic Panel (Mock Board) where these goals will be further solidified and milestones will be set for the commencing two quarters.
Design and Iteration
The first priority is to iterate and develop the impactpreneurs’ products, making them market ready. We seek to cement their understanding of Human Centered Design and help them scale their enterprises, with the guidance of our in-house design and sector mentors. At the end of this stage, we expect our impactpreneurs to have a minimum viable product (MVP) that is ready to be taken to market.
Marketable products need high focus on sales growth, revenue generation and access to the market. This phase will help impactpreneurs create a structured business model and all the organizational frameworks required to run an effective enterprise. Five businesses will be selected for the program in a year and each will receive a seed funding of BDT 1,000,000.
At this stage, impactpreneurs would need to determine funding requirements, create their financial and accounting frameworks and have a functioning organization and governance structure. By the end of this phase, they will be presented to local and global investors for the first round of investment.
Personal Development & Alumni Movement
Throughout the impactpreneur’s journey, we intend to coach our impactpreneurs them on their personal strengths and areas of development. We expect to develop their skill-sets in a way that allows them to engage in local and global networks and harness resources.
By the end of the 1-year program, we expect our impactpreneurs will to:
Be key contributors to the wider social entrepreneurship ecosystem
We intend to help our impactpreneurs develop the skill sets they require to become voices for the sectors, both at the micro and macro levels. This will enable them to engage, develop, and contribute meaningfully to the Bangladeshi entrepreneurship ecosystem.
Have an investment-ready business model
Impactpreneurs will have the skills and mindsets required to build effective enterprises. They will be able to access funding and investment opportunities and would be ready to pitch to local and global philanthropic and impact investment networks to achieve scale.
Internalize the value of continuous improvement
At the end of the journey, impactpreneurs would have made a commitment to rigorous evaluation, continuous improvement of their enterprises and would demonstrate an attitude towards transparent impact measurement.
Become role models
Our impactpreneurs will become role models whose stories can be sources of inspiration and promote the entrepreneurial spirit.
Create systemic changes in the long run
Impactpreneurs will be sensitive to the lack of economic and social inclusivity and be committed to bridging the inclusivity and inequality gaps, building themselves and their enterprises to a degree where they are able to create macro-level impact.
Build effective teams to run their enterprises
Impactpreneurs will be equipped to recruit and select a set of high-performing and values-driven individuals who will be committed to furthering the growth and impact of their enterprises.
If you want to join this program, keep an eye on our social media channels where we will provide the announcement of opening.