Giving Compass’ Take:
• Business support for early-stage social enterprises can help drive capacity and scale as well as develop significant leadership abilities.
• How can social enterprises seek out strategic business partnership opportunities?
Private sector and venture capital investors have repeatedly demonstrated that funding innovation can create profound societal change. For more than three decades, venture capital funding for early-stage, innovative startups has helped build some of the most innovative American companies.
But things are very different in the social sector, which badly needs precious risk capital. While the sector has raised and deployed more than half a trillion venture capital dollars over the last 50 years, it remains starved for investment, particularly early-stage social enterprises. Early-stage capital not only drives capacity and scale but also enables deeper leadership development and the ability for social enterprises to create strong partnerships with business in ways that are both creative and mutually beneficial.
VisionSpring and Warby Parker are two well-known examples of purpose-driven organizations that benefit both underserved people and the economy. The Warby Parker/VisionSpring partnership is much more than a corporate social responsibility program. It is central to Warby Parker’s brand identity, and it equips VisionSpring with a predictable, growing source of funding that fuels greater impact.
Partnering with early-stage social organizations provides private sector companies with the opportunity to leverage both their capital and purpose in a deeper way that more mature organizations can’t provide. Early-stage social enterprises desperately need more capital, as well as private sector capabilities in strategic planning, human resources, recruiting, marketing, and customer acquisition.
Read the full article about business support for social enterprises by John Wood and Christy Chin at the Stanford Social Innovation Review.
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