For Profit, For Good

Social Enterprise

On Thursday, November 8th, 2012, I attended an event hosted by the Chicago Chapter of the Social Enterprise Alliance  in honor of the Chicago Community Trust and their efforts and on-going strategy in funding social innovation, enterprise and best practice models.  Social enterprises are described as businesses operated by non-profits with the dual purpose of generating income by selling a product or service in the marketplace and creating a social, environmental or cultural value.  Social enterprises and social entrepreneurs leverage capital to maximize financial results while driving positive social change.

As the fiscal cliff quickly approaches for federal and local governments, the public funding scenarios for non-profits looks quite dire. It’s expected that as the money continues to dry up at the state, local and federal levels, more and more non-profits relying on those dollars will be forced to close their doors (going the way of the historic Hull House) unless they can find a way to generate revenue and garner private individual and organizational support. 

Jim Lewis, Senior Program Officer at Chicago Community Trust, addressed the crowd that evening and delivered a call-to-action challenging everyone in the room to create proposals that outline creative social enterprises which could function on their own as viable businesses and would be appealing to investors.  Although, a social enterprise is generally closely tied to a non-profit, the enterprise should be able to function as an independent entity which generates the profits needed to fund the non-profit organization.

The Social Venture Capitalists are Here!

SVP Chicago Seeking to invest – Apps Due Nov. 26th!!

Adrienne Bitoy-Jackson , of SEA Chicago’s Governing Board of Directors, forwarded me this message from Tasha Seitz of the Chicago chapter of Social Venture Partners (SVP).  They are seeking LOIs from interested nonprofits by November 26.

“SVP is a venture philanthropy organization with a network of over 25 chapters in cities around the country and across the world. We take a venture-capital-like investment approach to funding innovative nonprofits and magnifying the impact of our dollars through volunteering our time, expertise, and network connections in support of the mission. SVP strives to identify and support the most promising social entrepreneurs who bring innovative approaches to their work and can make a meaningful impact on the men, women and children facing society’s toughest challenges. We support those entrepreneurs through multi-year, unrestricted financial commitments and capacity building to strengthen their organizations and set the stage for enhancing their social impact.

We are just launching our first investment cycle in Chicago, and we have chosen to focus our first investment in education. We believe that the purpose of education is to enable individuals to serve productive, successful and purposeful lives, and we seek to support a non-profit organization that enables underserved populations to achieve their potential.

  • The mission focuses on supporting the education of preschoolers, children, and young adults, or skills training for young adults and adults that live in the Chicagoland area.
  • The programs are scalable and replicable.
  • The programs have demonstrable success and create lasting impact.
  • The annual budget is greater than $250,000 but less than $3,000,000.

The staff and board desire growth and hands-on assistance in building organizational capacity in areas such as Planning, Board Development, Fund Development, Business Operations (including Accounting/Finance), Marketing, and Technology.

Please note that local education foundations, school districts, colleges and universities, and charter schools are not appropriate for partnership with us to build lasting organizational capacity and will not be considered for our investment.

We intend to make a three-year commitment to our investee organizations, with an investment of $20-25K per year, renewable annually. The more significant value that we provide our investees is the human capital and capacity building investment of our partners. More information can be found at”  You can also download letter of interest form here.

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4 replies

  1. Hi Sherry, the SVC opportunity would be a dream come true for those persons, leaders, future social entrepreneurs to be a candidate for this investment. I noticed that the focus at this time is for education. Will there be any future interest of investment for organizations that focuses are on women, women empowerment? I’m in process of launching my non profit org in Chicago for Latina women and I’m seeking opportunities as such to help our organization launch and make a statement.


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