As the number of social enterprises grows, so does the need for support resources for these unique ventures. Providing funding for charitable start-ups during their formative stages, The Bindu Project launched on Oct. 15 to serve as non-profit social enterprise accelerator.
In speaking with a number of people in her everyday life, Founder Shelley Bird was meeting more and more individuals developing social enterprises. She wanted to hep them all, but found they most often needed assistance in one area.
“Often times they just needed a little help and that little help was often in the form of funding,” Bird says. Normally it’s not even a large sum of money, but “they need a bit of help without a lot of strings attached,” she says.
The Bindu Projects aims to assist social enterprises that are at the sweet spot of trying to scale. They don’t have a lot of time or capacity to write grants and maybe aren’t able to tap into other streams of revenue from corporate organizations.
“I hope we can be that bridge to really help them in that formative stage when they are trying to work on sustainability, when they are trying to scale,” Bird says.
The project is two dimensional in its offerings.
“It’s an accelerator for non-profit startups and it acts a little bit like angel investing, but I view the ROI in terms of societal capital or community capital,” Bird says Instead of the ROI and investor would get, the projects will make a bigger impact on society as a whole.
However investors aren’t left with nothing. In what Bird calls a reciprocal partnership, individuals will purchase coins or charms that represent one of the five categories of social enterprises the Bindu Project supports.
The five categories are education, health & development, shelter & safety, women & girls, and nature & the environment.
“I think they cover the landscape pretty broadly in terms of the types of social enterprises we could partner with,” Bird says. “We don’t really have a bias to location, type of charity or even how long they have been in existence,” she adds. It’s more about where they are in their development.
There will be one organization per round of funding that will last about 12 to 18 months. When the coins and charms run out, or the organization hits their funding goal, the process will be started again with a new round of charms.
Three of the five organizations for the inaugural round have already been chosen and the project is actively seeking to fill the last two spots. A local team from the Dick & Jane Project is the education beneficiary. The Dick & Jane Project helps empower students through songwriting. International Trek Medics is the representative for health & development. Trek Medics creates an emergency response dispatch system in areas where 911 is not available. It’s like a crowd-sourced 911 call center. Girl With Guts was chosen for the women & girls organization. Girls With Guts creates a supportive network for women and girls facing inflammatory bowel diseases.
The Bindu charms are $26 with necklaces going for $35 and commemorative coins for $30, and 100 percent of the profits go directly the organization being represented. Bird hopes that over the 12 to 18 month time period, they will be able to provide each organization with a grant of $10,000.
The idea to provide a commemorative coin came from Bird’s personal experience. She had received a coin from a three-star general for her volunteer efforts several years ago and still cherishes the token today. Once the designs for the Bindu project were ready, she took them to focus groups. She says women loved the designs but wanted to be able to wear them, prompting the idea for the charms.
Social entrepreneurship is a trend Bird thinks will continue.
“There is no shortage of really great ideas and very passionate social-preneurs,” she says. She cites a generation of problem solvers for the rise. They come across a problem they think they can solve and find a way to do it.
For more information, visit binduproject.org.