You have to start with a mission

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?

Are you eligible?

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.

Proposal Basics

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:

  • A clear description of the mission your enterprise tackles
  • The amount of your request, the proposed use of the funds, how long you would like the money and your preferred payback terms
  • A complete description of the enterprise and how it will work, including:
    • Who are your customers?
    • What is your revenue stream?
    • What is the strength of the marketplace in which you work?
  • The background experience of the management team, as well as the management, corporate and ownership structure
  • Complete financial information, including cash flow projections for at least three years of the enterprise’s operations (see our Resources section for sample templates)
  • 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 engagement
  • Any other materials that will directly support your request
  • A proposed outcomes reporting plan

We're looking for great ideas & strong teams

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.

Corporate Background

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 (ie., for-profit, non-profit, co-operative, etc.)
  • Previous legal name(s)
  • Shareholder name(s), percentage of ownership
  • Mailing address, telephone, email, website
  • Corporate address if different from 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 and senior staff as applicable

Please contact us if you have any questions.