How to raise money for your Social Enterprise

Looking for capital? In collaboration with Impact Hub Westminster, I’m running their first ever Impact Investment Readiness programme. We designed it to help social entrepreneurs find impact investment within the next 12 months. participants-2-500x500

In October 2014, we took our first cohort through the programme (pictured above), and got some great feedback.  If you are a social enterprise based in London, you can apply for the free programme until December 1st 2014.

Below you’ll find just a taste of some of the skills, tips and tricks that the #SocEnt startups were able to learn, and put into practice on the programme.

Play at the right level

You’ve heard of crowdfunding, you’ve watched Dragon’s Den, and you know you could get a loan from the bank. But which is right for you now?

Paul Grant talks about the different levels of the funding game. Continue reading

How to Start a Social Enterprise You Love

This post has my top three tips for starting something that matters. This is how I started, and it can work for you too.

1) Subscribe to blogs

No one likes unwanted spam. But newsletters and emails from interesting people have poked me into action more times than I can remember.  And it’s a great way to make sure you don’t miss the posts from people you like, and from people like you.

  • For business, I love to read the Four Hour Work Week blog by Tim Ferriss. It’s full of interesting posts on lifestyle design, health, new books and online business. I’ve learned a lot from his work. I like to read it with a social entrepreneurship lens. What would a social Tim Ferriss do?
  • For travel, I love This Battered Suitcase by Brenna Holeman. She writes wonderful stories of her adventures around the world, and also around my back garden here in East London.  I love it when she writes about causes she is passionate about, like Femme International, or questions irresponsible tourist practices like chumming for sharks.
  • For social impact, I always read The Impact Hub London Newsletter, and not just because I work here creating Hubcademy.  It’s great, and important, to hear about all the relevant, local events going on near you.  If you live in London, and you’re interested in making an impact with your life and work, join this list.

You can get all my blog posts in your email too – just enter details on the right at the top of the page. Never miss an Inspiring Adventures post!

I also have a newsletter, and I’d love to know what you’d like to read more about.  Answer my 17 second two question questionnaire, so that I can give you more of exactly what you want.

Thanks so much.

2) Write down ideas

Continue reading

Eco Bonito – Ecotourism entrepreneurs

Bonito – it’s not just about the water.

There is at least one attraction that involves none of the wet stuff.

Ecotourism entrepreneur, Senor Modesto Sampaio used to be a farmer. In 1986 he acquired an unusual piece of land.  Part of the land included a giant sink hole, a natural sandstone crater with it’s own unique ecosystem. The largest sink hole in South America, and second largest in the world.  Of course, engineers advised him to cover or fill it somehow, so that he could use all the land for farming, but Modesto, now in his 70s, realised its unique potential.

Continue reading

Staying Eco in the City – Belem, Brazil

I arrived in Belem, the northern port city of the Amazon region. I was not sure what to expect.  I had been deliberating whether to go to Manuas, in the heart of the Amazon, or this less well known city on the Amazon Delta, where the river meets the sea.

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In the end, I chose Belem. Why? There were 3 excellent reasons.  Fernanda from 100% Amazonia, Sergio from Preserva Mundi, and Leonilda from Bio EcoBrazil.  I talk more about them in following posts.

In Belem, I chose to stay at the EcoPousada Miriti.  A tranquil, peaceful guesthouse, designed with sustainable values in the heart of the city. I decided it would perfect base from which to explore the city, and meet local social entrepreneurs.

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I wanted to learn more about why it was an “Eco” guesthouse, so I spoke with the owners, Geraldo and Priscila Barata, to learn more.

Pricila was a tourism student, who wrote her final dissertation on sustainable guesthouses.  With advice from her at that time boyfriend Geraldo, they wrote what would become the future business plan for EcoPousada Miriti. After graduation,  Priscila’s mother bought a property in need of renovation, and Geraldo and Priscila set about the task of converting it into a eco-friendly guesthouse.

Geraldo talked me through the reasons they chose to renovate the existing building, instead of demolishing the old one and starting again.  Demolishing and rebuilding is easier, cheaper and faster.  So why not do that?

If you demolish, the waste must go somewhere, and that means landfill. Rebuilding after complete destruction means using and buying more new materials.  Renovation means you spend less on materials, but more on human labour.  For Miriti, it was better choice to reinvest the money in the local workforce, than in new materials.  The materials they did use, were sourced locally.

Apart from this example, Gerald gave me many more.  The water filtration system cleans 70% of the chemicals out of the water, before it is returned to the water table, where natural processes can filter the remaining 30%.  Most guesthouses don’t filter at all. Solar power is installed to heat the water, and the system will have paid for itself in 6 years.

Miriti also supports native artisans, who create toys from the leaves of the plant from which the guesthouse gets it’s name. These toys have a long tradition, but without a place like EcoPousada to sell them, the toys don’t get bought, and the skills used to make them get lost.

If you are looking for an ecofriendly guesthouse in Belem, I recommend you check out Miriti.  And don’t forget to try their tapioca with banana and cinnamon for breakfast!

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Parque Das Aves, Part II – Overcoming Adversity

We left the story just after learning how much entrepreneur and founder Dennis Croukamp had risked in setting up a bird park in Latin America, and then sadly, he died.  You can see Part I of this story here.

From Carmel Croukamp:

Overcoming adversity

Anna Croupkamp, who had been a housewife for sixteen years and had never run a business, moved to Brazil. She now says that if she had known about all the obstacles she would face, she would have been too terrified to do it.

The odds have always been stacked heavily against the bird park – everyone from shady businessmen to government authorities have tried to close the bird park down at some point. Nature conservation in Brazil is not easy.

Now, it’s the biggest bird park in Latin America, with over 500 000 visitors a year.

With our profits we’re able to support a number of social and conservation projects in various parts of Brazil (supporting education, scientific research, reintroduction programs, organic agriculture and so on).

Social Entrepreneurship

As for social entrepreneurship, however, the Bird Park project has been about building a business that by nature produces socially positive results.

There are the obvious benefits of giving Brazilians a positive experience of the natural environment by spending rare time in the Atlantic Rainforest and, in our walk-through, flee-fry aviaries that allow people closer contact with wild animals than you’ll find anywhere.

We also educate 35 000 schoolchildren a year in a rapidly expanding environmental education program vital to an area and a culture where deforestation, trafficking and poaching are rampant.

In addition, 47% of the birds in the park are animals rescued from traffickers and maltreatment. 43% have been bred here at the park, and we develop programs to reintroduce birds into the wild (many of these endangered species).

Many of our staff, by the way, are former poachers and loggers, some of whom have now become expert bird handlers. Our staff love what they do with a passion.

Flying High

As Anna goes into retirement, the running of the park is passing over to her daughter, Carmel and son-in-law. There’s still a long road ahead and the sky’s the limit.

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