Program Launches to Help Local Nonprofits Build Social Enterprises

By the end of the year, Columbus should see a new crop of social enterprises tied to some of the city’s most well-known nonprofits. The Center for Social Enterprise Development is implementing CauseImpact’s SE Catalyst program with five organizations from Central Ohio.

SE Catalyst is an immersive, eight-month program that helps a nonprofit develop its idea for a social enterprise venture. The goal is to help participants build a plan to sustainably increase revenues while decreasing their dependence on often variable fundraising efforts.

The five nonprofits selected are all existing organizations looking to evolve their business model with a social enterprise, going through a rigorous screening processes requiring them to have an idea coming in, and a willingness and ability to dedicate the time, staff and resources to bring that concept to fruition.

The first cohort of Columbus participants include:SEcatalyst

CauseImpact has been running a similar program in Nashville for the last three years with much success in producing a pipeline of investment-ready social enterprises. Research shows that it’s working, too. Nonprofits that participated in the cohort saw a 25 percent increase in earned income, while comparison agencies saw a two percent decrease. 

“As one of the leading agencies fighting the war on poverty, we are clear that grant-funded programs and services alone will not win the war,” says IMPACT Community Action CEO Robert Chilton. “A comprehensive strategy fueled by innovation and entrepreneurship is necessary if we are to make an impact on poverty. Our participation in the SE Catalyst Program is a leap forward that will enhance the way we do business and transform the lives of the people we serve.”

Each participating organization will build an Impact Team to receive group and individual training. The program combines classroom instruction with coaching, technical assistance, and the real-world application of tools, approaches and principles. 

“The success of Community Shares to date has been all due to one element: collaboration,” says Teresa Trost, executive director of Community Shares of Mid Ohio. “For us to further our mission and vision we know it requires new relationships and collaborations to help us reach further. I’m excited to be working with The Center for Social Enterprise Development and my fellow cohort members to expand our collective impact in the community.”

The program is a perfect fit with the CSED’s mission to provide cause-driven organizations with the tools they need to launch and grow enterprises that will bring about social change. CSED President Allen Proctor says that the program will do just that for these established nonprofits while also raising the collective profile of startups launching in Columbus.

The program will culminate with an event where each nonprofit will pitch their ideas to a panel of experts and compete for funding.

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