The thing that sets social entrepreneurs apart is a public benefit mission at the core of the business. More than just 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 the first hurdle for any organization making a proposal to the Social Enterprise Fund (SEF) is to clearly define and demonstrate your public benefit mission. Who are the primary beneficiaries of your enterprise? How is your mission part of everything you do in business? How will you measure if you are successful in delivering your 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 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 a 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. With the exception of our Corporate Background form (a requirement for every proposal – scroll to the bottom of this page for more details), we expect each proposal to look different, because every business is different. How you present your materials tells us a lot about you – how you think, how you work and your experience.
Here’s a sample of some of the things we would expect to see:
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 can deliver the goals of the enterprise, and whether the plans and cash flow projections demonstrate a clear understanding of both the opportunities and challenges ahead.
The most important thing is that our clients succeed, and the information you provide will help us determine whether that’s possible and whether debt financing is a logical next step.
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:
Please submit your proposal materials as electronic documents to the attention of firstname.lastname@example.org, (such as PDF attachments to an email). Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions.