A good place to start is with mission.
The thing that sets social entrepreneurs apart is a public benefit mission at the core of the business. More than a desire to contribute back to community, (which is truly admirable, don’t get me wrong!), mission is central to everything a social enterprise does.
So it is a given that the first hurdle to any organization making a proposal to the Social Enterprise Fund is to clearly define and demonstrate their public benefit mission. Who are the primary beneficiaries of your mission? How will you measure if you are successful in delivering on that mission, and how will you report those metrics back to SEF?
If you have any doubts about whether SEF will consider your enterprise eligible for our loans, please feel free to send us a letter outlining your mission, answering all the questions above, before you submit a full proposal.
It may be good idea to have a conversation with the fund’s executive director, either in person, or by phone. Be ready to talk about your idea, and how you see it working. We’ll want to know about the people involved, your target market and how you plan to reach it, and where you see your enterprise in three to five years.
When you are ready to make a formal presentation, it can take a variety of forms – but it must clearly answer all the questions about the enterprise and how it will work. (See the cover sheet checklist at the bottom of this page.) Some of the things we will look for include:
- A clear description of the mission your enterprise tackles
- A complete description of the enterprise and how it will work. Who are your customers? What is your revenue stream?
- The background experience of the management team, as well as the management and corporate and ownership structure
- Complete financial information, including cash flow projections for at least three years of the enterprise’s operations
- Formal financial statements (preferably externally prepared) for the past three years of the organization’s operations, if available.
- A complete marketing and sales plan demonstrating how you will capture and keep your revenue stream
- Any studies or assessments you have completed, plus any indicators of community or marketplace support
- Any other support materials that will directly support your request
- The amount of your request, the proposed use of the funds, how long you would like the money, and your preferred payback terms.
Essentially, we are trying to determine if you have a strong idea that is supported by an understanding of the marketplace or customer base, whether there is an experienced management team in place that agree on the goals of the enterprise, and whether the plans and cash flow projections demonstrate a clear understanding of both the opportunities and challenges ahead.
Please be assured that SEF keeps all project and organizational information it receives confidential.
When submitting your proposal, please include a cover sheet with the following information so we can confirm your eligibility, and contact you regarding your proposal:
- Date of submission
- Applicant Company Name
- Legal name if different than company name
- Legal entity type (for-profit, non-profit, co-operative, etc.)
- Previous legal name(s)
- Shareholder(s) name(s), Percentage of ownership
- Mailing address/telephone/email/website
- Corporate address if different than mailing address
- Corporate registry number (Alberta or Canada)
- Date of incorporation/registration
- Business start date
- Fiscal year end
- Primary contact name, title and contact information (if different from corporate contact information
- Secondary contact name, title and contact information (if different from corporate contact information
- Full list of management team, including Board members, Directors, Officers, Shareholders, senior Staff, as applicable
Please contact us if you have any questions.