Through expert business advice, training and networking, we help social ventures to secure finance, embed their social mission, measure their impact, develop strong governance and grow to the next level. Our offer includes:
- six months of structured support, including monthly training days and regular meetings with an advisor
- further flexible support for up to 12 months if needed, negotiated with each entrepreneur
- support and introductions to become investment-ready and access finance, including loans and angel investment
- support to embed and protect your social mission through appropriate legal structures
- connections to business networks and the social sector
- shared co-working space in central Cambridge
- bursaries for entrepreneurs experiencing personal, long-term, financial hardship to enable them to engage with our programme.
We expect our entrepreneurs to:
- be working full-time on their venture, or making steps towards that goal
- embed their social mission in their organisation
- measure their social impact
- be an active member of our community at the Cambridge Centre for Social Innovation.
Entrepreneurs who aren’t quite ready for this sort of support should come along to one of our Social Venture Weekends to develop their idea further.
The core of your relationship with us is your business advisor. You will meet at least monthly and more often when needed.
Each of our advisors is an experienced social entrepreneur. They’ll be a shoulder to cry on when things get tough and they’ll hold your feet to the fire when you need motivating!
At your first meeting you will set some goals together and establish what your support needs are. You’ll meet with them at least monthly and perhaps more often. They will drill down into your business plan with you and help you set strong foundations for growth.
Our team works closely together, and we each have our own strengths that we can use to work through particular issues. Where appropriate we’ll introduce you to other specialists from our networks in Cambridge and the broader social sector.
After six months, we’ll revisit your goals and figure out what further support we can give you.
Training and events
You’ll join a monthly training day in Cambridge – partly an opportunity to learn from world experts in entrepreneurship and partly a chance to connect with each other.
These one-day workshops are taught by teachers from the University of Cambridge, inspiring social entrepreneurs and professionals like accountants or lawyers with relevant social sector experience. You’ll meet journalists, investors and social sector leaders who can help your business grow. The sessions cover finance, governance, marketing and sales, human resources, tax, personal resilience and more.
Being an entrepreneur can be lonely work, so over lunch, you’ll get to share your sorrows and successes with the others on the programme. We always finish the afternoon with a trip to the pub!
Graduates of the incubator are always welcome to come back to revisit training and catch up over a cup of tea or a pint.
Where possible these training sessions are done in person, during isolation online versions will be scheduled.
Funding and finance
We don’t offer any funding to social ventures and we don’t take any equity in your ventures.
We do support ventures to identify customers and make sales, and we can support ventures to access other sources of finance, whether through loans, grants or equity investment (angel and VC). We can do this by helping with the financial modelling necessary for raising finance, and by introducing you to the right people.
There’s a wide range of finance options available to social entrepreneurs. We’ll help you figure out whether external finance is something you need and can connect you to potential investors, grant-making bodies, lenders and others.
We also have specific agreements with two partners that are available to ventures supported by us.
Cambridge Enterprise and Cambridge Social Ventures have partnered to offer seed funding to social ventures emerging from the University of Cambridge. Together we will invest a maximum £20,000 in up to five social ventures, with returns reinvested in future social ventures.
This particular investment is only available to students, staff or alumni of the University of Cambridge.
Find out more about the Cambridge Enterprise social seed fund