Social Enterprise Incubation Program

Community development corporations (CDCs) exist to empower and uplift their communities. CDC activities include community economic development, affordable housing, financial empowerment, community engagement, and local food access.

Ideally, these organizations would focus all of their time on fulfilling their mission, but instead they must adapt to the new reality of decreased government funding and decreased charitable giving for nonprofit community development organizations. Thus more of their time is spent fundraising rather than pursuing their mission and serving the families in their neighborhood’s footprint.

Community development organizations need access to resources that help them create sustainable social enterprises that help them achieve their mission while becoming financially stable.

Social Enterprise Incubation Program

The Social Enterprise Incubation Program (SEIP) is an intensive four phase program consisting of rigorous training and tailored technical assistance for OCDCA members while they create their own social enterprise. This program culminates in a structured “shark tank” where the participating CDCs gain access to startup capital.

OCDCA is delighted to announce its first SEIP Cohort, which commenced in October 2018.

Phase 1: Introduction Workshop (Completed October 25, 2018)

A crowd gathers for the SEIP Phase 1 Introductory Workshop on October 25, 2018.

A crowd gathers for the SEIP Phase 1 Introductory Workshop on October 25, 2018.

This first training provides an overview of social enterprises, including best practices, research regarding each attendee’s organizational core competencies, business plan creation, and marketing. It is required that each participating CDC send two staff members to the workshop. Each participant completes a self-assessment to gauge their organization’s readiness for running a social enterprise. Initiating any new program is not easy, but a social enterprise requires complete buy-in from the organization’s stakeholders as well as a considerable amount of time, planning, and resources. Social enterprise is not for everyone and this self-assessment tool will help guide CDCs to make a realistic decision concerning their goals and ability to continue into the SEIP.

Interactive discussion and problem solving were a major component of the SEIP Phase 2 Boot Camp in January 2019.

Interactive discussion and problem solving were a major component of the SEIP Phase 2 Boot Camp in January 2019.

Phase 2: Social Enterprise “Boot Camp” (Completed January 15-16, 2019)

In the month following the workshop, participants apply to enter the SEIP. It is required that an applicant organization must have had two staff members attend both workshops. This highly competitive process results in up to six organizations being selected to advance into the program. The selected CDCs then send two staff members to the SEIP’s Boot Camp. The Boot Camp is a 2-day intensive training focused specifically on devising a specific social enterprise for their organization.

Phase 3: Technical Assistance (In Progress)

This phase lasts up to one year, depending on the CDCs needs, during which the CDCs develop a business plan for their social enterprise with technical assistance from OCDCA. Phase 3 culminates in a “shark tank” showcase, where CDCs pitch their social enterprise plans to a room of potential investors. All participating organizations receive further feedback on their pitches and proposals after the showcase.

Applications have already been accepted for this cohort’s Phase 3. Interviews are currently being conducted, and Phase 3 will officially launch at the end of February 2019.

Phase 4: Investment & Start Up

Participants begin to execute their business plan and are eligible to receive startup investments for their social enterprise in the form of enterprise loans, grants, or organizational operating support. Funded CDCs start their social enterprise with continued technical assistance support from subject experts and program support through the OCDCA AmeriCorps VISTA program. No more than two organizations reach this phase in each cohort.

Thank you to Bank of America for supporting this program!